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Handling Your Documents While in Ukraine

Last update: Sept. 9, 2011 (updated for 2011)


When to present your documents in Ukraine

There are occasions when you will need to present your passport or other picture ID (driver's license, for example) in Ukraine — apart from crossing Ukraine's borders, which requires a passport. These situations include, for example:
  • buying train tickets (not any more — for domestic destinations; documents only required for returning tickets!), plane tickets, or long-distance bus tickets
  • checking in at hotels
  • getting on the plane, the train (only train ticket required now), and any international buses
  • going to a Ukrainian healthcare clinic (sometimes)
  • performing bank transactions
  • exchanging money at banks (sometimes; but never at money exchange kiosks)
  • entering some government or business centers (to be issued a visitor's pass)

If you don't have any business like this going on, there is no reason to carry around a passport or driver's license all the time. A good idea is to xerox your passport information and the pages with the visa and the stamp from your last Ukraine border crossing and carry that with you. Ukrainians themselves have two kinds of passports — a domestic passport that serves as an I.D., much like a driver's license in the West, and an international passport for travel abroad.

NOTE: If you filled out a custom's declaration upon entry to Ukraine (required for those carrying amounts of cash over $1000 USD and valuable items), you are supposed to present this declaration upon exit from Ukraine. However, it seems that in most cases no one cares to see it.

Getting stopped by Ukrainian police

There is a slight chance you may be stopped by the police sometime and asked for your documents. If you are of a non-European race, the chances are a lot higher. Police checks seem most common on metro platforms and train stations. Ukrainians who look like they're from out of town sometimes get checked, too.

This does not mean that you have been suspected of any crime; usually, they are just routine, mostly random checks. The worst thing that can happen to you if you have no documents of any kind to show is that you will be taken to the police station for a few hours until your "identity is established" — in other words, until family or friends can bring an I.D. to the police station for you. Police don't have the right to detain you indefinitely even if you have no documents.

If policemen look at your documents, they will be interested in your most recent date of entry and the term of your visa. If you have been in Ukraine for more than 90 days without leaving the country, you need to have registered at the local OVIR (department of visas and registration), which puts another stamp in your passport with your Ukrainian address in it.

What to do if your passport is stolen or lost while in Ukraine

If your passport (and hence Ukrainian visa) is stolen, you are required to take the following steps:
  1. Report the incident to your embassy in Ukraine, apply for a new passport, and get a document from the embassy stating that your new passport is being processed.
  2. Report the theft to the local police office and get a document from them stating that the theft has been reported (take a local with you if you are not fluent in the language or unsure of how to act with the police).
  3. Go to the local Department of Visas and Registration ("OVIR" or "VVIR" in Ukrainian) with these two documents and get a document from them stating that you have the right to be in Ukraine until a certain date.

After you leave Ukraine for the first time after your passport was stolen, you will need to apply for a new visa in order to re-enter the country, even if the visa that was stolen allowed multiple entries.



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