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Ukraine

If you’re travelling to Ukraine, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Overview

Security status

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution.

We are currently advising against all travel to Crimea and to the Eastern region of Ukraine.

Latest travel alert

Crimea

Tensions remain high in Crimea, where Russian forces and pro-Russian groups have established full operational control. We advise against all travel to this region, and advise any Irish citizen in Crimea to consider leaving by commercial carrier while it is still possible to do so. In a deteriorating situation, we cannot guarantee that we will be in a position to offer consular assistance should you decide to remain there.

Ireland has no Embassy in Ukraine, and no Consulate in Crimea, so it is extremely unlikely that we’ll be able to provide any consular assistance to Irish citizens in Crimea.

Eastern Ukraine

We advise against all travel to the Eastern provinces of Ukraine as the security situation is dangerous and unpredictable.

If you are in Ukraine at present you should keep yourself fully informed of what’s going on around you by monitoring local media for information about possible safety or security risks and maintaining contact with your hotel or tour organiser. We advise you to exercise caution, remain vigilant and we strongly advise that you avoid all demonstrations and public gatherings, as even peaceful protests may turn violent.

Emergency assistance

The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

You can contact the emergency services in Ukraine on the following numbers:

•Emergency services: 112

•Police (Militsia): 102

•Fire brigade: 101

•Ambulance/municipal first aid: 103

•Natural gas and fire emergency service: 104

Other EU embassies

You can contact the Embassies and Consulates of other EU countries represented in Ukraine for emergency consular assistance, advice and support.

Our tips for Safe Travels:

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities.
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates.
  • Read our ‘Know Before You Go’ guide.

 

Safety and security

Crimea

We advise all citizens in Crimea to leave. Ireland has no Embassy in Ukraine, and no Consulate in Crimea, so it is extremely unlikely that we’ll be able to provide any consular assistance to Irish citizens who decide to remain in Crimea.

Demonstrations

Demonstrations and protests have been taking place in Ukraine over the past year. A number of these have resulted in violent confrontations, and we strongly advise that you avoid demonstrations, protests and public gatherings.  You should keep yourself fully informed of what’s going on around you by monitoring local media and maintaining contact with your hotel or tour organiser.

Terrorism

Although the threat from terrorism in Ukraine is low, there is still a global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by tourists and expatriates.

Crime

Whilst most visits to Ukraine are trouble-free, there has been a rise in the number of muggings and other attacks reported in Kiev and other urban centres. Always take sensible precautions:

  • Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place 
  • Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home
  • Avoid showing large sums of money in public and don’t use ATMs after dark, especially if you are alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business
  • Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafes, train and bus stations
  • Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible

Racially motivated crime

All visitors should be careful but if you’re of Asian or Afro-Caribbean descent and/or belong to a religious minority, be particularly careful in Ukraine, as some attacks on visitors have reportedly been racially motivated.

Tourist scams

A common scam is where a conman drops a wallet or bundle of money in front of a tourist. If you are approached in this way, do not engage in conversation and walk away.

Reporting crime

If you’re a victim of a crime while in Ukraine, report it to the local police immediately. And you can contact us at the Consulate of Ireland in Kiev if you need help.

Lost or stolen passports

If your passport is lost or stolen, you need to report it immediately to the police. Getting a replacement passport will be easier if you are able to provide a copy of the lost or stolen one, so keep photocopies of your passport.

Driving

If you’re planning to drive in Ukraine, you should careful. Road conditions in Ukraine especially in rural areas can often be extremely hazardous, especially at night. If you want to drive:

  • Bring your full Irish driving licence and your international driving permit and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
  • There is a zero-tolerance policy on drink driving in Ukraine
  • Be aware of Ukraine’s traffic laws, such as speed limits
  • Wear your seatbelts at all times
  • Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped at traffic lights

Public transport

Most towns and cities have a comprehensive network of buses, trolleybuses and trams. You can usually buy tickets (bilet) at ticket booths at major stops. If not, then once on board, you should buy a ticket from the ticket conductor or driver. Tickets, including those bought from conductor, normally need to be validated by being ‘punched’. Travelling without a ticket or with an invalid ticket carries an on-the-spot fine.

There is a wide network of minibuses with fares normally displayed on the window inside the bus. Fares are typically between 1.50 and 3.00 Hryvnia. Passengers often pay their fares by passing money to the driver via fellow passengers.

Crime on public transport

Be careful on public transport as it is popular with pickpockets and bag snatchers. Take particular care on any overnight trains. We recommend, if possible, travelling with someone else and in a compartment that can be secured from the inside.

Taxis

Non-regulated taxi drivers can overcharge so we advise you to use official taxis only. These taxis will have the name and telephone number of the taxi company on the side of the door and on the top of the taxi. Two taxi companies whose drivers usually have basic English are:

Express taxi – Tel: +380-44-239-15-15

Etalon taxi – Tel: +380-44-501-55-01/502-54-54

Local laws and customs

Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or even illegal.

Personal identification

Always carry your passport as the police often carry out passport checks on foreign nationals. Only original passports are accepted by the police in these circumstances because they are usually trying to establish your status in Ukraine. If you are detained, you should request an official police report.

Police officers must introduce themselves by name, post, rank and tell you the reason they are checking you (ID check). They must also show you a document verifying their identity.

Illegal drugs

Penalties for drug offences are severe. The sale and distribution of drugs on the street is illegal and these drugs are often hazardous counterfeits. 

Public order offences

Smoking and drinking alcohol in public places such as public transport, bus stops, underground crossings, playgrounds, parks, cultural and sports venues and government establishments, are officially prohibited.

Photography

You are not allowed to take photographs near government or military establishments.

Cultural artefacts

There are strict rules governing the export of antiques and items of historical interest. If in doubt, get permission from customs authorities before you attempt to export any item from the country. Failure to comply with local rules may result in fines, confiscation of property or delays in travel.

 

Health

Vaccinations

Check your doctor a minimum of eight weeks in advance of travel to see what vaccinations you may need for Ukraine.

A small number of cases of polio have recently been diagnosed in Ukraine. Polio vaccination is recommended for all travellers from Ireland to countries where polio transmission is a risk. Before travelling to areas where poliomyelitis cases are still occurring, travellers should ensure that they have completed the recommended age-appropriate polio vaccine schedule and have received a booster dose, if necessary. More information is available on the Health Protection and Surveillance Centre website.

Sexually transmitted disease

There is a high level of sexually transmitted diseases in Ukraine and HIV is reportedly widespread. You should exercise necessary caution if engaging in activities that expose you to possible infection. If you suspect that you have been exposed to possible infection, you should seek immediate medical attention.

Radioactive contamination

The risk of radioactive contamination from the 1986 accident at Chernobyl is insignificant, other than within the exclusion zone immediately around the Chernobyl site and you don’t need to take any special precautions.

Travel Insurance

We can’t pay for emergency medical repatriation, repatriation of remains, or for expenses as a result of a personal emergency while you are abroad. If you buy an appropriate travel insurance policy, these costs will be covered, provided you haven’t broken the terms and conditions.

Buying comprehensive travel insurance can save you and your family a lot of money if something goes wrong. It will also ensure that you get the medical attention you need, when you need it. Hospital bills can quickly run into thousands of euro, and a medical evacuation back to Ireland can cost thousands more.

Not all policies are the same, and the cheapest one might be cheap for a reason. Make sure your policy covers all the activities you plan to do on your trip. Insurance Ireland recommend that you purchase a policy that provides a minimum medical cover of €1 million.

Emergency expenses

Your policy should cover:

  • All medical care abroad, including evacuation by air ambulance, or other emergency procedures, and any other costs associated with an unexpected longer stay.
  • Your entire trip, from departure to return. Consider an annual multi-trip policy if you’re making more than one trip in the year.   
  • 24-hour emergency service and assistance.
  • Personal liability cover (in case you’re sued for causing injury or damaging property).
  • Lost and stolen possessions.
  • Cancellation and curtailment.
  • Any extra activities you intend to do that are excluded from standard policies (e.g. water sport activities such as jet skiing or other extreme sports).

Exclusions: You should know most insurance policies will not cover drink or drug-related incidents.

Water

We advise you to boil tap water before drinking it. Bottled water is readily available.

Additional information

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

If you are unsure about the entry requirements for Ukraine, including visa and other immigration information, ask your travel agent or contact the nearest Embassy of Ukraine.

Following the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, Russian officials exercising de facto control of the territory are requiring Irish citizens seeking to enter Crimea to have a Russian Federation visa obtained from the nearest Russian Embassy. Those who do not comply with these “visa requirements”, including the expiry date indicated, can be subject to arrest, fines, and/or deportation by those exercising de facto control. It should be noted that the ability of the Embassy to intervene in such cases is extremely limited.

You can also check with them how long your passport must be valid for.

Passports

It’s advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you when travelling to Ukraine and you should carry your passport at all times during your stay.

Money

The official currency of Ukraine is the Hryvnia (UAH). Euros and US dollars are the easiest currency to exchange in Ukraine, but only use banks and official exchange booths. Depending on the amount to be exchanged, you may need a passport and/or other ID. When you’re exchanging currency, you should get an official receipt, known as an NBU form № 377. Hold on to this receipt because you may need it to exchange Hryvnia to other currencies when you leave the country.

ATMs are available in Ukraine and credit cards are widely used but not universally accepted in cities. Beyond larger urban centres, we advise you to carry enough local currency to meet your needs.

Take particular care when exchanging money to safeguard your passport and credit/ATM cards and don’t lose sight of them during transactions.

Transport

Hiring a vehicle

If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

Crime on public transport

Be careful on public transport as it is popular with pickpockets and bag snatchers. Take particular care on any overnight trains. We recommend, if possible, travelling with someone else and in a compartment that can be secured from the inside.