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Background Note: Ukraine

BACKGROUND: Ukraine was the center of the first eastern Slavic state, Kyivan Rus, which during the 10th and 11th centuries was the largest and most powerful state in Europe. Weakened by internecine quarrels and Mongol invasions, Kyivan Rus was incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and eventually into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The cultural and religious legacy of Kyivan Rus laid the foundation for Ukrainian nationalism through subsequent centuries. A new Ukrainian state, the Cossack Hetmanate, was established during the mid-17th century after an uprising against the Poles. Despite continuous Muscovite pressure, the Hetmanate managed to remain autonomous for well over 100 years. During the latter part of the 18th century, most Ukrainian ethnographic territory was absorbed by the Russian Empire. Following the collapse of czarist Russia in 1917, Ukraine was able to bring about a short-lived period of independence (1917-20), but was reconquered and forced to endure a brutal Soviet rule that engineered two artificial famines (1921-22 and 1932-33) in which over 8 million died. In World War II, German and Soviet armies were responsible for some 7 to 8 million more deaths. Although final independence for Ukraine was achieved in 1991 with the dissolution of the USSR, democracy remained elusive as the legacy of state control and endemic corruption stalled efforts at economic reform, privatization, and civil liberties. A peaceful mass protest "Orange Revolution" in the closing months of 2004 forced the authorities to overturn a rigged presidential election and to allow a new internationally monitored vote that swept into power a reformist slate under Viktor YUSHCHENKO. Subsequent internal squabbles in the YUSHCHENKO camp allowed his rival Viktor YANUKOVYCH to stage a comeback in parliamentary elections and become prime minister in August of 2006. An early legislative election, brought on by a political crisis in the spring of 2007, saw Yuliya TYMOSHENKO, as head of an "Orange" coalition, installed as a new prime minister in December 2007.

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:   Ukraine is undergoing profound political and economic change as it moves from its Soviet past toward a market economy, 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 for additional information.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENT: Depending on the length and purpose of travel, U.S. citizens may or may not be required to get a Ukrainian visa prior to arriving in Ukraine.  A passport valid for six months beyond the planned date of travel is required.  According to Ukrainian Presidential Decree #1008, dated June 30, 2005, U.S. citizens are exempt from the requirement to have a Ukrainian visa as long as the duration of their stay in Ukraine does not exceed 90 days and the purpose of their travel is tourism, private travel, or business. U.S. citizens whose planned stay in Ukraine exceeds 90 days must have visas authorizing their entry into Ukraine. If the purpose of their visit is other than tourism, private travel, or business, an appropriate visa must be obtained. U.S. citizens may apply for all types of visas through Ukrainian Embassies and Consulates overseas. A list of required documents for the visa application will be determined based on the purpose and length of travel on a case-by-case basis. Contact details for Ukrainian Embassies and Consulates are available on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine web site at http://www.mfa.gov.ua/mfa/en/305.htm.

Visas may be obtained from the Consular Office of the Embassy of Ukraine in Washington, DC or from Ukrainian Consulates General in New York, Chicago, or San Francisco.  For additional information about Ukrainian visas and related policy, please contact the nearest Ukrainian Embassy or Consulate.

Embassy of Ukraine
3350 M Street NW
Washington, DC 20007
Tel: (202) 333-0606
Fax: (202) 333-0817
Web site: http://www.mfa.gov.ua/usa/en/
  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/

The Government of Ukraine does not issue visas at the point of entry into Ukraine.  Individuals whose purpose of travel requires them to have a visa must obtain the correct Ukrainian visa prior to arrival; otherwise they will be denied entry into Ukraine and will have to return to the United States or travel to another country to obtain a visa.

Please check your visa carefully upon receipt and pay careful attention to validity dates.  Each traveler is responsible for understanding the type of visa issued and the provisions of that visa.  Frequently, American citizens are refused entry into Ukraine because they believed that they possessed a multiple entry visa, while in fact their visa was only valid for a single entry; Americans occasionally 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 01/05/07 is valid from May 1, 2007 and NOT from January 5, 2007.  Such travelers can be detained at the port of entry, refused admission and sent back to the country from which they traveled.  The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv is unable to assist travelers in these situations.

All foreigners entering or staying in Ukraine must be registered with Ukrainian authorities. American Citizens traveling to or staying in Ukraine are reminded that recent changes to Ukrainian immigration law change the registration procedures for short-term stays; registration for short-term visits of up to 90 days is completed at the border by the customs offices.  Such registration is valid for 90 days out of each period of 180 days; the calculation of the 90-day period begins from the date of first entry into Ukrainian territory.

Initial registration for both short- and long-term visits to Ukraine, with or without a visa, is completed at the port of entry into Ukraine.  Future extensions for stays exceeding 90 days are completed through the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs™ Office of Citizenship, Immigration and Registration (OVIR).  Most cities have several OVIR offices.  Extensions are not automatic, however, and are valid only for continued presence in the country.  It is not possible to depart Ukraine and return on the extension, nor can an adjustment to visa status be made from within Ukraine. Applications for extension of registration should be submitted at least three days before the current registration expires.

Travelers who intend to visit Russia from Ukraine must also have a valid Russian visa.  The Consular Section of the Russian Embassy in Ukraine is located at Prospekt Kutuzova 8, tel.: (380-44) 284-6816, fax 284-7936, e-mail: general@rucons.kiev.ua, http://www.embrus.org.ua/.

Visitors to Ukraine should note that Ukrainian law requires all visitors to obtain mandatory health insurance.  For more information see the section on Medical Insurance below.

Visit the Embassy of Ukraines web site at http://www.mfa.gov.ua/usa/en/1609.htm for the most current visa information.  Also, see the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs™ web site at http://www.mfa.gov.ua/usa/en or http://www.ukraineinfo.org/.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our web site.  For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information sheet and visit the Ukrainian State Customs Service web site at http://www.customs.gov.ua/dmsu/control/en/index.

TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION" The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program advises Americans traveling and residing abroad through Country Specific Information, Travel Alerts, and Travel Warnings. Country Specific Information exists for all countries and includes information on entry and exit requirements, currency regulations, health conditions, safety and security, crime, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. Travel Alerts are issued to disseminate information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas that pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel to a certain country because the situation is dangerous or unstable.

For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet web site at http://www.travel.state.gov/, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Alerts, and Travel Warnings can be found. Consular Affairs Publications, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a safe trip abroad, are also available at http://www.travel.state.gov/. For additional information on international travel, see http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Travel/International.shtml.

The Department of State encourages all U.S citizens traveling or residing abroad to register via the State Department's travel registration website or at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Registration will make your presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an emergency and will enable you to receive up-to-date information on security conditions.

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or the regular toll line 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada.

The National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of State's single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport information. Telephone: 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778). Customer service representatives and operators for TDD/TTY are available Monday-Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight, Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 877-FYI-TRIP (877-394-8747) and a web site at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/default.aspx give the most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled "Health Information for International Travel" (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.  

SAFETY AND SECURITY:   Ukraine is largely free of significant civil unrest or any organized anti-American domestic political movements.  However, occasionally mass demonstrations occur in larger cities, such as Kyiv, and are usually sponsored by individual political forces.While the majority of these protests are small and peaceful, it is best to avoid such gatherings.

There also have been recurrent incidents of racially-motivated violence; groups of “skinheads” and neo-Nazis target people of Asian, African, or other non-European descent, as well as religious minorities, in Kyiv and throughout Ukraine (see the section on Crime below).

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs™ web site at http://travel.state.gov/ where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, including the Worldwide Caution, 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.

CRIME:  Ukraine is undergoing a significant economic, political, and social transformation, and income disparities have grown sharply.  As a result, foreign visitors may be perceived as wealthy 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 ranges from various scams, simple pickpocketing, purse snatching and theft of personal items from parked cars, to mugging, armed robbery or the drugging of unsuspecting victims at nightspots and bars (where they are then robbed).  Cases of assaults in apartment building corridors, elevators and stairwells, as well as armed break-ins and crimes involving small caliber firearms have also been reported.  Please see the Embassy™s web site for additional security information for Americans at http://kyiv.usembassy.gov/amcit_security_eng.html.

A commonly reported scam in Kyiv is The Wallet Scam which involves a person dropping a wallet or a packet of money near a potential victim. After the victim picks up the wallet and attempts to return it to the individual who it belongs to, the perpetrator then claims that the wallet is missing money which the victim stole.  The perpetrator either threatens to call the police if the victim does not pay, or asks the victim to show his or her wallet to the perpetrator to ensure that the victim did not take any money.  When the victim produces his or her wallet, the perpetrator grabs the money and flees.  Another variant involves a second person who claims to be a police officer who is of course involved in the crime who approaches the victim after the wallet has been picked-up.  This second person also asks to see the wallet, grabbing the money and fleeing or, through sleight-of-hand, stealing the victim™s money.

While most travelers do not encounter problems with crime in Ukraine, there has been an increase in the number of hate crimes directed at ethnic and religious minorities. Many of these incidents are conducted by “skinheads” or neo-Nazis in Kyiv, but similar crimes have also been reported throughout the country. In Kyiv these incidents have occurred without provocation in prominent downtown areas 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. Individuals belonging to religious minorities have also been harassed and assaulted in Kyiv and throughout Ukraine.

Credit card and ATM fraud is widespread.  Ukraine operates as a cash economy, and money scams are common.  The MEbassy strongly recommends that visitors and permanent residents of Ukraine refrain from using credit cards or ATM cards except at major international establishments.

Burglaries of apartments and vehicles represent a 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 common.

Ukraine lacks reliable tourist and travel services for foreign victims of 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 are few 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 much 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. American business entities are encouraged to read the Corruption, Money Laundering and Organized Crime section of the 2007 Crime Report for Ukraine at http://kyiv.usembassy.gov/amcit_crimereport_eng.html.  American businesses and other private sector organizations are also encouraged to read the most recent Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) Annual Crime and Safety Report for Ukraine at https://www.osac.gov/Regions/country.cfm?country=42.

Computer fraud is also becoming more common in Ukraine.  Internet scams appear to be on the rise.  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 online 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 fiancĂ©e visas to the U.S.  Additional information is available on our web site in a document titled “Marriage Brokers” at http://kyiv.usembassy.gov/amcit_marriage_eng.html and on the Department of State’s web site under Ukraine: Internet and Other Fraud Schemes. 

As in many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available in Ukraine.  Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law.  In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.  More information on this serious problem is available at http://www.cybercrime.gov/18usc2320.htm.

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 individuals in finding appropriate medical care, contacting family members or friends and explaining how funds could be transferred.  Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help victims to understand the local criminal justice process and to provide a list of local attorneys who have informed the Embassy that they are willing to take foreign clients.

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:  In December 2005, Ukraine reported the first cases of H5N1 (avian influenza, "avian flu," "bird flu," or "chicken flu") among birds in Crimea.  Further outbreaks followed in 2006.  On January 18, 2008, another outbreak of the H5N1 avian influenza virus was detected at a poultry farm in the Krasnogvardiyskyi Rayon in Crimea. There are no registered human cases of H5N1 in Ukraine.  For detailed information on H5N1, please review the Avian Influenza Fact Sheet.

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, and 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 several hours or more 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 web site in the document “Medical Services in Kyivâ at http://usembassy.kiev.ua/amcit_medical_serv_eng.html.

Please note that while the Embassy can help American travelers and their families make to contact with a medical evacuation 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, should the need arise.

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) or via the CDC’s web site, http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/default.aspx.  Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Ukraine.  For further information, please consult the CDC™s Travel Notice on TB at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/yellowBookCh4-TB.aspx.  For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization™s (WHO) web site at http://www.who.int/en.  Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith/en.

RADIATION AND NUCLEAR SAFETY:  In 1986, the Chernobyl incident resulted in the largest short-term, accidental release of radioactive materials to the atmosphere ever recorded.  The highest areas of radioactive ground contamination occurred within thirty kilometers of the Chernobyl nuclear power station.  The city of Kyiv was not badly affected because of the wind direction, but it was not completely spared.  The last operating reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant site closed officially on December 15, 2000. All identified stabilization measures on the existing sarcophagus are complete, and preparatory work to start construction of the new shelter is nearing completion. The contract for the new Chernobyl shelter was awarded in September 2007 and its construction is projected to be completed in 2012.

The Ukrainian government has an effective program of monitoring fresh foods and meats sold in local markets.  However, street purchase of produce should be avoided.  Wild berries, mushrooms, and wild fowl and game should also 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. If external radiation levels are high enough to require evacuation, the U.S. Embassy will notify the American community through the Embassy warden e-mail and text messaging system.

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.

The Ukrainian parliament passed a law in 1997 requiring all visitors to Ukraine to obtain mandatory health insurance. According to Ukrainian authorities, the cost of a visitor’s medical insurance depends on the anticipated length of the visitor’s stay in Ukraine.  The cost of the insurance is approximately 25 cents per day (more for short stays).  This required insurance can be purchased after arrival and covers only the costs of basic medical care inside Ukraine; it does not cover medical evacuation.  Failure to purchase mandatory health insurance often results in refusal of treatment at Ukrainian public hospitals and clinics.  Private clinics do not require Ukrainian public health insurance, but can be as expensive as similar clinics in the United States and may require payment in advance.  More information can be found online in Ukrainian at http://www.pro100.com.ua/, or by calling +38 (044) 206 2885 from abroad or 8-800-500-1080 from within Ukraine.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS:  While traveling 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 are poorly lit.  Visitors should drive defensively at all times, since local drivers often disregard traffic rules.  Drivers are often poorly trained or drive without valid driver's licenses.  Drivers can also be very aggressive, and 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.

Due to heavy traffic and congested roads, vehicle accidents are a common occurrence in larger Ukrainian cities, especially in Kyiv. In Ukraine, it is mandatory for motorists involved in vehicle accidents not to remove the vehicle from the site of the accident, unless it presents a clear safety concern. Local police must be notified and will report to the scene to conduct an investigation. Drivers should be prepared to wait until the police arrive and complete their report. Due to traffic and slow response, it may take up to several hours for police to arrive. When police arrive, they will ascertain responsibility, take the drivers’ personal information, and file a report of the accident.

Cross-country travel at night and during the 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 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 (primarily theft) occurring on trains and other modes of public transport.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Ukraine™s Civil Aviation Authority as not being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for the oversight of Ukraine™s air carrier operations.  For more information, travelers may visit the FAA™s web site at http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa.

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 web site at http://travel.state.gov/index.html for our Dual Nationality flyer.

Ukraine is a cash economy.  Traveler™s checks and credit cards are gaining wider acceptance in larger cities.  Even in Kyiv, however, acceptance of credit cards is not nearly as widespread as in the U.S. or in Western Europe.  Expect credit card use to be limited to major 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.  Currency exchange is only legal at such licensed exchange booths, banks, and currency exchange desks at hotels; 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 more common throughout Ukraine, particularly in Kyiv 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 traveler™s checks may be cashed at many locations.  Again, the Embassy emphasizes that the incidence of credit card and ATM bankcard fraud is high, and strongly recommends that visitors and permanent residents of Ukraine refrain from using local ATMs.

Customs regulations prohibit sending cash, traveler™s checks, personal checks, credit cards, passports, or other forms of identification through the international mail system, as well as via courier mail (FedEx, DHL, etc.).  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.  As 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 $15,000 in cash, or up to $30,000 in traveler™s checks, into Ukraine without a special license.  A traveler must declare the imported currency.  If customs officials determine that a traveler entering or exiting the country is carrying undeclared currency, they can and often do confiscate the undeclared funds.  When leaving the country, foreign travelers are only allowed to take out a maximum of $3,000 in cash, or as much cash as they declared upon their entry into Ukraine.  If a traveler wants to take out more than $3,000, 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 $15,000 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 the document “Ukrainian Customs: Procedures for Transporting Currencies, Monetary Instruments, or Precious Metals” at http://kyiv.usembassy.gov/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.

Ukraine is a developing democratic nation undergoing significant political, economic, and governmental reform.  This includes reform of police and emergency services.  Visitors should be aware that although Ukrainian police and emergency services have made much progress, they still generally remain below Western European and U.S. standards in terms of training, responsiveness, and effectiveness.  American citizens have reported waiting hours for Ukrainian police and ambulance services to respond to calls for emergency assistance.  Although this may generally be atypical, it does nevertheless occur. 

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.

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 Ukraine™s 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 sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.  Please see our information on Criminal Penalties.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES:  For information, see our Office of Children™s Issues web pages on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction.

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 web site and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Ukraine.   Americans withoutInternet 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 Mykoly Pymonenka St., 01901 Kyiv, Ukraine. Telephone: (38-044) 490-4422, fax 486-3393. The American Citizen Services unit is located at the same address and can be reached at (38-044) 490-4445  The Embassy is located at #10 Yuriy Kotsyubynsky St. 01901 Kyiv, Ukraine. Tel.: (38-044) 490-4000.

Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State.

CIA World Factbook


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