Ukraine Basics

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The Basics

Time: GMT +2 (GMT +3, Mar - Oct)

Electricity: Electrical current is 220-240 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs are the round two-pin variety.

Money: The official currency is the Ukrainian hryvnia (UAH), which is divided into 100 kopiyka. Banks are usually open Monday to Friday until 3pm. US Dollars and Euros are exchanged easily at banks and currency offices, and while other currencies can also be exchanged, they are not as widely accepted. ATMs are widely available in all major towns and cities. Major restaurants, shops, and hotels accept Visa, MasterCard, and EuroCard. However, credit cards are not widely accepted, particularly in remote areas and smaller establishments. Outside the main cities, it is advisable to carry a supply of local currency.

Currency Exchange Rates

UAH1.00 = USD 0.04GBP 0.03CAD 0.05AUD 0.06ZAR 0.60EUR 0.04NZD 0.06
Note: These rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.

Language: Ukrainian is the official language, but Russian is also widely spoken.

Entry requirements for Americans: US nationals require a passport that is valid on arrival, but no visa is required for a stay of up to 90 days.

Entry requirements for UK nationals: UK nationals require a passport valid for duration of stay, but no visa is required for a touristic stay of up to 90 days within a 180-day period. Holders of British passports with endorsements other than 'British Citizen' should confirm these requirements before travel.

Entry requirements for Canadians: Passports must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the departure date, but no visa is required for a stay of up to 90 days within a 180-day period.

Entry requirements for Australians: Passports must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the departure date. Australian nationals need a visa to enter Ukraine.

Entry requirements for South Africans: South Africans require a visa and a passport valid for six months after the departure date to enter Ukraine.

Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand nationals require a visa and a passport valid for six months from date of arrival to enter Ukraine.

Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish nationals require a passport valid for duration of stay, but no visa is required for a tourist stay of up to 90 days in any 180-day period.

Passport/Visa Note: Applicants for tourist visas require a letter of confirmation from a hotel or tour company; for business visas a letter of invitation from a company or organisation in the Ukraine is required. However EU citizens and some other nationalities do not require a tourist visa for stays of up to 90 days within a 180-day period. On arrival, all foreign nationals must fill in an Immigration Card, to be presented when entering and leaving the country. All visitors must possess return/onward tickets. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Travel Health: Tap water is best avoided, but there is loads of still and sparkling bottled water. There is a serious issue of widespread HIV and the level of sexually transmitted diseases is high. Due to the risk of exposure to pollutants and radioactive materials, swimming in the Dnieper River should be avoided. Comprehensive travel insurance is advised and visitors are advised to bring a supply of personal medication.

Tipping: Tipping is fairly new in the Ukraine and is now expected in restaurants: usually five to 10 percent of the bill is acceptable. In more upmarket establishments, 10 percent is more the norm if not already included in the bill. Drivers are not usually tipped.

Safety Information: Ukraine has experienced serious political unrest in the recent past and continues to do so, and most governments have instituted travel warnings for the country. The eastern part of Ukraine and Crimea are particularly to be avoided. Travellers are advised to research the current situation and to stay up to date on travel alerts for the region. When it comes to crime, most visits to the Ukraine are trouble-free. But foreigners are considered lucrative targets for petty theft and street crime in the Ukraine, and valuables should be kept out of sight, especially in crowded areas and at tourist spots. Particular care should be taken on public transport and overnight trains. *Elections took place in the Ukraine on 31 March 2019. There is an increased likelihood of large public rallies and demonstrations. Visitors are advised to avoid all demonstrations, and take care around public gatherings.

Local Customs: Homosexuality is legal. However, there remains a high level of intolerance towards the LGBT+ community.

Business: Ukraine, because of a troubled recent history, is trapped in many paradoxical laws. Business is observed quite differently than in Western Europe. After the country's break from Soviet ties, unprecedented opportunities for the entrepreneur arose. But not many people speak English and the use of interpreters may be necessary; knowledge of German, Russian, or Ukrainian will be useful. During meetings formal attire is customary for both men and women, although women are not traditionally part of the business world and visiting businesswomen may be subjected to chauvinism. Meetings often include informalities and sociable questions, and will regularly begin with a welcoming alcoholic drink, which it is considered rude to refuse. These are often used for character evaluation and it is considered impolite to delve straight into business matters. Typical business hours are 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Communications: The international dialling code for the Ukraine is +380. Mobile phone network coverage is fairly extensive, but international roaming can be expensive. There are internet cafes available in Kiev, and other main cities and towns. Wifi is also becoming increasingly accessible.

Duty Free: Travellers to the Ukraine can bring in 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco products; 1 litre of spirits and 2 litres of wine; and goods for personal use, as well as goods with a total value of €200, without incurring customs duty. Prohibited items include items that can have an impact on the environment, and agricultural goods and live animals.