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Entering Ukraine

Like many other countries, Ukraine has special entry procedures for foreign citizens. These include presentation of valid travel documents and permits to enter the country, such as visas. As of January 2007 Ukraine had visa-free regimes with the following countries: member countries of the EU, Switzerland, the Vatican, The Principality of Monaco, Canada, the US, Japan and South Korea. Citizens of these countries do not require a visa if they enter the territory of Ukraine for the period of up to 90 days. In case a visa is required, a foreign citizen should present a valid national (or for foreign trips) passport, an invitation from a physical person or from an organization in Ukraine (unless otherwise specified by agreements between the countries) along with payment of the consular fee to the nearest Consulate or Embassy of Ukraine. A detailed information can be obtained from the Ukrainian consulates abroad.

Ukraine’s “90/180” Rule for visa-free entry

Upon entering or exiting Ukraine, your passport is examined or scanned to determine the number of days out of the previous 180 that you spent in the country. (Note: 90 days is a little less than 3 months, and 180 a little less than 6 months.) If this number is above 90, you could be refused entry or fined. This is more likely at Kyiv Boryspil airport and less likely at some land border crossings, such as Medyka-Shehyni near L’viv, where the “90/180” Rule continues to be ignored three years after its official adoption.

Citizens of many countries can now visit Ukraine without a visa for periods of up to 90 days over a 180-day period, with a valid passport:

Andorra               Finland        Japan                 Monaco          Slovenia

Austria                 France        Kazakhstan         Mongolia         Spain

Belgium                Georgia       Korea (South)     Netherlands     Sweden

Canada                 Germany     Kyrgyzstan         Norway          Switzerland

Cuba                    Greece        Latvia                 Poland           Tajikistan

Cyprus                 Hungary      Liechtenstein       Portugal         United Kingdom

Czech Republic     Iceland        Lithuania             Russia            United States

Denmark              Ireland         Luxembourg       San Marino     Uzbekistan

Estonia                 Italy            Malta                  Slovakia         Vatican City

*Note: Two countries are conspicuously missing from this list: Australia and New Zealand.

Citizens of these countries can stay in Ukraine for up to 90 days within any 180-day period without a visa. For longer stays, a visa is required. Until July 11, 2007, there was no 180-day limitation and meant that foreigners could simply cross the Ukrainian border every 3 months and re-enter without a visa. By law, this is no longer allowed (link to decree in Ukrainian), although in practice it is still possible at certain border crossings. If you intend to stay in Ukraine for more than 90 days out of any 180-day period, you should arrange to get a visa.

Travelers who need a visa to enter Ukraine

You will need a Ukrainian visa if:

a) You do not hold a passport from one of the countries listed above;
b) You are from one of the listed countries, but plan to be in Ukraine longer than 90 days, regardless of the purpose of your travel;
c) You plan on working or studying in Ukraine, regardless of the length of your stay.

Getting a Ukrainian visa was never too difficult to begin with, and the last five years have seen new developments that make it easier for foreigners to come to Ukraine:

1) Foreigners are no longer required to go through the red tape of registering at the local VVIR (Department of Visas and Registration, known as OVIR in Russian) within three days of arriving in Ukraine. Now, you only need to register your passport if you will be in the country for more than three months (more than six months for US passport holders).

2) Invitation letters and other supporting documents are no longer required for those holding passports from the United States, Canada, Japan, Switzerland, Slovakia, the EU, or Turkey, although a letter of invitation never hurts. Indeed, some Ukrainian consulates abroad still require it.

3) Today, the citizens of many countries do not require a visa at all for visits to Ukraine of up to three months.

Getting a Ukrainian visa

Visa types and requirements can be found on the websites of Ukrainian consulates and embassies abroad. Plan to send in your visa application no less than three weeks before you enter Ukraine. You can get it done in three or four days’ time, but you will pay more. A listing of Ukrainian embassies and consulates around the world is available here. If you speak Ukrainian or Russian, you can call the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry’s information bureau at (+38-044) 238-1737 or their visa department at 238-1525.

Note: You cannot get a Ukrainian visa inside Ukraine, even if you have come to Ukraine without a visa as a citizen of one of the visa-free countries in the list on this page. You must exit the country and apply for a visa at a Ukrainian consulate abroad.

Visa application forms can be downloaded in PDF format at or requested by mail.

You will need to mail to the nearest Ukrainian embassy or consulate:

- your passport (the original, not a copy);

- one completed application form printed or written in block letters in black ink;

- one recent passport-sized color photograph;

- a self-addressed prepaid express envelope. Only mail delivered by FedEx and Express Mail will be accepted, so do not send your application by regular mail. Your self-addressed express envelope will have to be “prepaid on account” for them to send your documents back to you;

- a money order made out to the embassy or consulate as your application fee. The amount of this fee is shown on the websites. For example, US $100 for 9 business-day processing.

- unless you are requesting a single-entry visa, which requires no additional payment, a second money order as your visa fee. This amount is also shown on the websites.

- if you are not a US, EU, Canadian, or Japanese citizen, you will probably need a letter of invitation. Check with the Ukrainian embassy or consulate in your country or contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to confirm this.

For a tourist visa, you will need a letter of invitation from a travel agency registered in Ukraine.

Visa application pointers

As you can see the visa application procedure is really quite simple. Don’t worry if you wrote your inviting party’s address in Cyrillic or wrote “Kiev” instead of “Kyiv.” Those will not affect your application. However, you do have to fill in the full name and address of your inviting party and you must have a temporary address in Ukraine. If you do not fill in these boxes, your application and passport will likely be returned to you without a visa.

Extending a Ukrainian visa

- Visas can be extended inside Ukraine in 4-5 business days at the municipal VVIR, not the district VVIR.

- Make sure you apply for an extension no sooner than 4-5 days before your visa expires.

- You cannot change the class of your visa.

- You will not be able to exit and re-enter the country during the extension period. In other words, even if you extend a multi-entry visa inside Ukraine, you will only be allowed to exit Ukraine on it. As soon as you leave the country, your visa will become void.

Remember, you cannot get a new visa while in Ukraine - you can only extend your existing visa. You must leave Ukraine to get a new visa, at any Ukrainian consular office in a country with a diplomatic mission from Ukraine.

Going through Customs

- You may bring into Ukraine cash up to EUR 10,000 without declaring it in writing.

- Citizens of Ukraine may bring back alcoholic beverages and tobacco products into Ukraine without paying import duties (customs) in those quantities designated for a single individual:

a) 2 liters of wine and 1 liter of spirits;

b) 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco or a set of such products with a total weight of no more than 250 g.