Electricity

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

Language

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

Money

The official currency is the Ukrainian hryvnia (UAH), which is divided into 100 kopiyka. 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, and most shops, hotels and restaurants accept Visa, MasterCard, and EuroCard. The Ukraine is still very much a cash-based society for many locals, particularly in remote areas and smaller establishments, so it's advisable to carry a supply of local currency outside the main cities.

Tipping

Tipping is common in the Ukraine but not obligatory. It's generally fine for patrons to round up to the nearest 10 or 50 UAH if they want to show their appreciation for the quality of service.

Health

Tap water is best avoided but it's easy to find still and sparkling bottled water. There is a serious issue of widespread HIV and the level of sexually transmitted diseases is high. Vaccinations are recommended for hepatitis A, hepatitis B and, for travellers who plan on taking long trips to remote areas, rabies. State medical facilities are generally poor and private institutions, though better, do not always meet western standards. Comprehensive travel insurance is advised and it's recommended that visitors bring a supply of personal medication.

Safety

Most visits to the Ukraine are trouble-free but foreigners are considered lucrative targets for petty theft and street crime. 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.

Ukraine has experienced serious political unrest in the recent past and continues to do so, and most governments have instituted travel warnings for parts of 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 various regions.

Visitors are advised to avoid all demonstrations and take care around public gatherings.

Local customs

Homosexuality is legal but there is a high level of intolerance towards the LGBT+ community.

Doing business

Ukrainian business people are generally less formal than in other countries. English isn't widely spoken so 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. Business cards should have one side translated into Ukrainian and presented with the Ukrainian side facing the recipient. 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.

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.

Communications

The international dialling code for the Ukraine is +380. Mobile phone network coverage is fairly extensive, but international roaming can be expensive. Local SIM cards are a cheaper option and are compatible with European and Australian phones. Visitors from the US and other regions should consider purchasing cheap Ukrainian mobiles. Free wifi is the norm in cafes, hotels and restaurants across the country, and is often available at bus stations, train stations and airports, and on intercity trains and long-distance coaches.

Passport & Visa

EU citizens and some other nationalities do not require a tourist visa for stays of up to 90 days within a 180-day period. All visitors must possess return/onward tickets. It is highly recommended that travellers' passports have at least six months' validity remaining after the intended date of departure from their travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Entry requirements

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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

Useful contacts

102 (General), 103 (Ambulance)

Embassies / consulates in other countries

Ukraine Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 (202) 349 2920.

Ukraine Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 7727 6312.

Ukraine Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 230 2961.

Ukraine Embassy, Canberra, Australia (also responsible for New Zealand): +61 (0)2 6230 5789.

Ukraine Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 460 1946.

Ukraine Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 (0)1 668 5189.

Embassies / consulates in Ukraine

United States Embassy, Kiev: +380 (44) 521 5000.

British Embassy, Kiev: +380 (44) 490 3660.

Canadian Embassy, Kiev: +380 (44) 590 3100.

Australian Consulate, Vienna, Austria (also responsible for the Ukraine): +43 (0)1 506 740.

South African Embassy, Kiev: + 380 (44) 289 8870.

Honorary Consul of Ireland, Kiev: +380 (44) 279 3200.

Send a link to this travel guide