CONSULAR INFORMATION SHEET
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520
Consular Information Sheet
April 08, 2010
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Ukraine is undergoing profound political and economic change as it moves from its Soviet past toward a market economy and multi-party democracy and integration into Euro-Atlantic and other international institutions. In recent years, the availability of goods and services has increased along with increased rates of growth in Ukraine's economy, and facilities for travelers have improved somewhat. Nonetheless, the availability of travel and tourist services remains uneven throughout the country, and Ukraine still lacks the abundance of many of the goods and services taken for granted in other countries. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Ukraine at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3211.htm for additional information.
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport valid for six months beyond the planned date of travel is required. In addition, all travelers to Ukraine must have a valid single- or multiple-entry visa before arriving in the country. A visa may be obtained from the Consular Office of the Embassy of Ukraine in Washington, D.C. or from Ukrainian Consulates General in New York, Chicago and San Francisco. Careful attention should be paid to the validity dates of Ukrainian visas.
Embassy of Ukraine
3350 M Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20007
Tel: (202) 333-0606
Fax: (202) 333-0817
Web site: http://www.ukraineinfo.us
Consulate General of Ukraine in New York
240 East 49th Street
New York, NY 10017
Tel: (212) 371-5690
Fax: (212) 371-5547
Web site: http://www.ukrconsul.org
Consulate General of Ukraine in San Francisco
530 Bush Street, Suite 402
San Francisco, CA 94108
Tel: (415) 398-0240
Fax: (415) 398-5039
Web site: http://www.ukrainesf.com
Consulate General of Ukraine in Chicago
10 East Huron St.
Chicago, IL 60611
Tel: (312) 642 4388
Fax: (312) 642 4385
Web site: http://www.ukrchicago.com
U.S. citizens, who stay in Ukraine for less than six months on a private, tourist, or business visa, do not need to register with local authorities. Once inside Ukraine, it may be possible to get an extension of stay, over and beyond the validity of the visa, for up to six months, from the Ministry of Interior's Office of Visas and Registration (OVIR). However, the extension is only valid for continued presence in the country. It is not possible to depart Ukraine and return on the extension, nor can additional visas be obtained from within Ukraine.
The Government of Ukraine does not issue visas at the point of entry into Ukraine. All visitors without a valid entry visa will be turned back to the United States or will have to travel to another European country to obtain a visa. Please check your visa carefully upon receipt. Each traveler is responsible for understanding the type of visa issued and the provisions of the visa. Frequently, American citizens are refused entry to Ukraine because they thought they possessed a multiple entry visa, but in fact their visa was valid for only a single entry. Alternatively, Americans try to reenter Ukraine after using their single entry visa, believing they have unlimited travel for six months. In some cases, Americans attempt to enter Ukraine before their visa becomes valid. This is a common mistake since in Ukraine the date is written day-month-year, not month-day-year. Thus, a visa issued on 01/05/05 is valid from May 1, 2005 and NOT from January 5, 2005. These travelers have been detained at the airport, refused entry and placed on the next available flight. The U.S. Embassy in Kiev is unable to assist travelers in these situations.
Travelers who intend to visit Russia from Ukraine must also have a Russian visa. The Consular Section of the Russian Embassy in Ukraine is located at Prospekt Kutuzova 8, tel.: (380-44) 294-7797 or 294-6816.
Visitors to Ukraine should also note that Ukrainian law requires them to obtain mandatory health insurance from the state joint-stock insurance company, Ukrinmedstrakh. For more information see the section on Medical Insurance below.
See our Foreign Entry Requirements brochure for more information on Ukraine and other countries. Visit the Embassy of Ukraine web site at http://www.ukraineinfo.us for the most current visa information. Also see Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ official web portal at http://www.ukraineinfo.org.
Read our information on dual nationality and the prevention of international child abduction at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1469.html. For Customs Information see http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1468.html.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: In November 2004, public outrage over fraudulent presidential elections brought hundreds of thousands of protesters into the streets of Kiev and other Ukrainian cities for 17 days. This so-called “Orange Revolution” ended without bloodshed and led to a peaceful transition of power through a rerun election. With the exception of these mass demonstrations, Ukraine has been largely free of significant civil unrest or disorders. However, demonstrations intermittently occur in cities such as Kiev. While the majority of these protests are small and peaceful, it is best to avoid such gatherings. There also have been recurrent incidents of groups of skinheads targeting people of Asian, African or other non-European descent in downtown Kiev (see the section on Crime below).
For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public nnouncements can be found.
Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad at http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/safety/safety_1747.html.
CRIME: Ukraine is undergoing a significant economic, political and social transformation, and income disparities have grown sharply. As a result, visitors perceived to be wealthier are targets for criminals. Americans often stand out in Ukraine, and are therefore more likely to be targeted than in Western European countries where incomes are higher and Americans may blend in better. Most street crime is relatively low level, but crimes involving small caliber firearms have been reported. Street crime ranges from wallet scams, simple pick pocketing and purse snatching, to muggings, armed robbery, or drugging unsuspecting victims at nightspots and bars (where they are then robbed). Cases of assaults in apartment building corridors and stairwells, and armed break-ins have also been reported.
While most travelers do not encounter problems with crime in Ukraine, there has been an increase in the number of racially-motivated attacks conducted by “skinheads” in Kiev. These incidents, in which non-Caucasian foreigners are specifically targeted for violence, have occurred without provocation in prominent areas of downtown Kiev that are commonly frequented by tourists. While the majority of people targeted have been of Asian, African or other non-European descent, all travelers should exercise caution. In addition to incidents of assault, persons of African or Asian heritage may be subject to various types of harassment, such as being stopped on the street by both civilians and law enforcement officials.
Credit card and ATM fraud is widespread. Ukraine operates as a cash economy, and money scams are widespread. Although credit card and ATM use among Ukrainians is increasingly common, it is nevertheless strongly recommended that visitors and permanent residents of Ukraine refrain from using credit cards or ATM cards.
Burglaries of apartments and vehicles represent the most significant threat to long-term residents. Although few cars are actually stolen, primarily because of increased use of alarm systems and security wheel locks, vehicular break-ins and vehicular vandalism are becoming more common.
In Ukraine there is a lack of tourist and travel services upon which American and foreign visitors can rely in the aftermath of a crime. Transferring funds from the United States, replacing stolen traveler’s checks or airline tickets, or canceling credit cards can be difficult and time consuming. There is a lack of safe, low cost lodgings such as youth hostels. Public facilities in Ukraine are generally not equipped to accommodate persons with physical disabilities.
Over the past several years, the Embassy has received a number of reports of harassment and intimidation directed against foreign businesspersons and interests. While these reports have become considerably less frequent in recent years, they have not ended entirely. Reported incidents range from physical threats (possibly motivated by rival commercial interests tied to organized crime), to local government entities engaging in such practices as arbitrary termination or amendment of business licenses, dilution of corporate stock to diminish U.S. investor interest, delays of payment or delivery of goods, and arbitrary “inspections” by tax, safety or other officials that appear designed to harm the business rather than a genuine attempt at good governance.
Computer fraud is also becoming more common in Ukraine. Internet scams appear to be on the increase. The Embassy suggests refraining from wiring money unless the recipient is well-known and the purpose of business is clear. American citizens have reported transferring money to Ukraine to pay for goods purchased from residents of Ukraine via on-line auction sites, but never receiving the goods in return. The Embassy regularly receives complaints from Americans regarding scams involving marriage and dating services. Numerous Americans have lost money to agencies and individuals that claimed they could arrange for student or fiancйe visas to the U.S. Additional information is available on our web site in a document titled “Marriage Brokers ” at http://usembassy.kiev.ua/amcit_marriage_brokers_eng.html.
INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.
See our information on Victims of Crime at http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/emergencies/emergencies_1748.html.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of hospitals and clinics with some English-speaking staff. Many facilities have only limited English speakers. There are no hospitals in Ukraine that provide a level of medical care equal to that found in American hospitals, or which accept American health insurance plans for payment (see the section on Medical Insurance below). Some facilities are adequate for basic services. Basic medical supplies are available; however, travelers requiring prescription medicine should bring their own. Elderly travelers and those with existing health problems may be at risk due to inadequate medical facilities. When a patient is hospitalized, the patient, relative, or acquaintance must supply bandages, medication, and food. The Embassy recommends that ill or infirm persons not travel to Ukraine. The Embassy also recommends that travelers obtain private medical evacuation insurance prior to traveling to Ukraine.
Medical evacuation remains the best way to secure western medical care. This option, however, is very expensive and could take at least several hours to arrange. Travelers may wish to purchase medical evacuation insurance prior to travel, or have access to substantial lines of credit to cover the cost of medical evacuation. The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy has information on various air ambulance companies that perform medical evacuations to Europe or to the U.S. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to other European countries can cost from $25,000 to $50,000, and to the U.S. as much as $70,000 or more. More information can be found on the U.S. Embassy's website in a separate document “Medical Services in Kiev” at http://usembassy.kiev.ua/amcit_medical_serv_eng.html.
Please note that while the Embassy can help American travelers and their families make contact with a medevac service, the U.S. Government cannot pay for medical evacuation. Travelers should make sure they have medical evacuation insurance, which is available from many private companies, or have funds available for evacuation, before the need arises.
Radiation and Nuclear Safety: In 1986, the Chernobyl incident resulted in the largest short-term unintentional accidental release of radioactive materials to the atmosphere ever recorded. The highest areas of radioactive ground contamination occurred within thirty kilometers of the Chernobyl station. The city of Kiev was not badly affected because of the wind direction, but it was not completely spared. The Chernobyl nuclear power station closed officially on 15 December 2000. The Ukrainian government has an effective program of monitoring fresh foods and meats sold in local markets. Street purchase of produce should be avoided. Wild berries, mushrooms, and wild fowl and game should be avoided, as these have been found to retain higher than average levels of radiation. Background levels of radiation are monitored regularly by the Embassy and to date have not exceeded the level found on the Eastern seaboard of the United States.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC’s Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. Please see our information on medical insurance overseas at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1470.html.
The Ukrainian parliament passed a law in 1997 whereby all visitors to Ukraine are required to obtain mandatory health insurance from the state joint-stock insurance company, Ukrinmedstrakh. According to information from the Ukrainian authorities the cost of this medical insurance depends on the anticipated length of a foreigner's stay in Ukraine. The cost for the insurance is approximately 25 cents per day (more for short stays). More information can be found on U.S. Embassy's web site in a separate document, “Medical Insurance in Ukraine for Emergency Care” available at http://usembassy.kiev.ua/amcit_medical_ins_eng.html. This required insurance covers only the costs of basic medical care inside Ukraine and does not cover medical evacuation.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Ukraine is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Generally, roads in Ukraine outside major urban areas are in poor condition and poorly lit. Visitors should drive defensively at all times, since drivers often disregard traffic rules. Drivers are often poorly trained or drive without a valid driver's license. Drivers can also be very aggressive, and they normally do not respect the rights of pedestrians, even at clearly marked pedestrian crossings. Pedestrians should also be aware of cars driving or attempting to park on sidewalks. Many cars do not meet the safety standards common in America.
Cross-country travel at night and in winter can be particularly dangerous. The Embassy strongly recommends that visitors and permanent residents of Ukraine refrain from driving their private vehicles after dark outside of major cities. However, major roads are drivable during daylight hours. Roadside services such as gas stations and repair facilities are becoming more common, particularly on the main national and regional overland highways and in large and mid-size cities. Nonetheless, such services are far from American standards, and travelers should plan accordingly. There have been isolated reports of carjackings of western-made or foreign-registered cars. There has also been an increase in the number of documented reports of criminal acts occurring on trains.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information at http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/safety/safety_1179.html.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Ukraine as not being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for the oversight of Ukraine ’s air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Ukraine does not recognize dual nationality. American citizens entering Ukraine with a Ukrainian passport will be treated as Ukrainian citizens by the local authorities. This may include being required to perform mandatory military service. Also, Ukrainians who have immigrated to the U.S. without obtaining the proper exit visa from Ukrainian authorities may be subject to civil or criminal penalties and will be required to obtain an exit visa before returning to the U.S. For additional information, see the Consular Affairs home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov for our Dual Nationality flyer.
Ukraine is a cash economy. Travelers' checks and credit cards are gaining wider acceptance in larger cities. Even in Kiev, however, acceptance of credit cards is not nearly as widespread as in the U.S. or in Western European countries. Expect credit card use to be limited to some hotels, upscale restaurants, international airlines and the rapidly growing, but still select number of up-market stores.
Exchanging U.S. dollars into the national Ukrainian currency hryvnya is simple and unproblematic, as licensed exchange booths are widespread, and exchange rates are normally clearly advertised. Exchanging U.S. dollars into Ukrainian currency or other currencies is legal only at banks, currency exchange desks at hotels, and licensed exchange booths; anyone caught dealing on the black market can expect to be detained by the local militia.
There are many banks and licensed currency exchange booths located in major cities. ATMs (a.k.a. Bankomats) are becoming available throughout Ukraine, particularly in Kiev and in other larger cities. In smaller cities and towns ATMs are still virtually non-existent. Most ATMs disperse cash only in the local currency hryvnya. The difficulties of a currency shortage can be avoided by coming to Ukraine with a sufficient supply of hard currency to cover necessary obligations during travel. Funds may be transferred by wire, advances may be drawn on credit cards and travelers checks may be cashed at many locations.
Again, the Embassy emphasizes that the incidence of credit card and ATM bankcard fraud is high and we strongly recommend that visitors and permanent residents of Ukraine refrain from using credit cards or ATM cards.
Customs regulations prohibit sending cash, travelers' checks, personal checks, credit cards, or passports through the international mail system. Customs authorities regularly confiscate these items as contraband. Ukrainian customs authorities may also enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Ukraine of items such as firearms, antiquities, currency, etc. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Ukraine in Washington or one of Ukraine's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements. In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products are illegal and bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.
Ukrainian law requires that travelers declare all cash and jewelry, regardless of value, upon entering Ukraine. Travelers should fill out a customs declaration and ask customs officials to stamp it. According to Ukrainian law, foreign citizens may bring up to $10,000 in cash or up to $50,000 in travelers' checks into Ukraine without a special license. A traveler must declare the cash or checks. If customs officials determine that a traveler entering or exiting the country has undeclared cash on him or her, they can and often do confiscate the undeclared funds. When leaving the country, foreign travelers are only allowed to take out a maximum of $1,000 in cash or as much cash as they declared upon their entry into Ukraine. If a traveler wants to take out more than $1,000, the traveler must have a customs declaration proving that he or she in fact brought the corresponding sum of money into the country.
Travelers desiring to bring more than $10,000 into Ukraine must obtain a special license AFTER entering the country. Details for obtaining this license are available on the Embassy's web site in a separate document “Ukrainian Customs Procedures for Transporting Currencies, Monetary Instruments, or Precious Metals” at http://usembassy.kiev.ua/amcit_travel_ukrcustoms_eng.html. Ukraine has strict limitations for the export of antiques and other goods and artifacts deemed to be of particularly important historical or cultural value. This includes any items produced before 1950.
Ukrainian Postal laws prohibit mailing of passports or other IDs across Ukrainian borders via regular mail as well as via courier mail (FedEx, DHL, etc.)
It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Ukraine in Washington or one of Ukraine's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements. Please see our information on customs regulations at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1468.html.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Ukrainian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Ukraine are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States. For more information visit http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1467.html.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.
REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION: Americans living or traveling in Ukraine are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Ukraine. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.
The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy is located at #6 Mykola Pymonenko St., 01901 Kiev, Ukraine. Telephone: (38-044) 490-4422, fax 236-4892. The Embassy is located at #10 Yuriy Kotsyubynsky St. 01901 Kiev, Ukraine. Tel.: (38-044) 490-4000.