Ukraine

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Friday, 08 August 2014.   This advice contains new information in the Summary and under Civil unrest/political tension (the security situation across Ukraine remains unpredictable). Tensions are high across the country and the security situation could deteriorate without warning. Australian officials deployed to Ukraine are adopting additional security measures. We continue to advise Australians not to travel to the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, including the MH17 crash site, due to a tense and dangerous security situation. We also advise Australians not to travel to Crimea as it is not under government control, and to reconsider the need to travel to Ukraine overall.

Ukraine overall

Crimea

Provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk

Summary

  • We advise travellers to reconsider their need to travel to Ukraine overall due to the unpredictable security situation across the country. Tensions could escalate further without warning. If you are in Ukraine and are concerned for your safety or security, you should consider leaving or applying additional security measures.
  • We continue to advise against all travel to the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, including to the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash site, due to ongoing conflict and the highly volatile security situation. There is continuing heavy fighting with loss of life in both Donetsk and Luhansk. Conflict has occurred in a number of towns and cities in these provinces, including Luhansk, Slovyansk, Mariupol, Kramatorsk, and Svyatohirsk, and may occur again without warning. There have also been localised attacks during times of cease fire. The threat of kidnapping exists across Donetsk and Luhansk.
  • Armed groups continue to control areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk Provinces, and have established illegal road blocks and checkpoints. These groups have threatened, detained, and on occasions kidnapped, individuals for hours or days. Journalists should exercise particular caution and seek specialist security advice.
  • We advise Australians not to travel to Crimea at this time as it is not under Government control.
  • Australians presently in Crimea, or the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, should leave by commercial means if it is safe to do so. The Australian Government’s ability to provide consular assistance in these locations is limited.
  • Australians visiting Ukraine on business should see our Advice to Australian business travellers.
  • The Australian Consulate in Kyiv, headed by an Honorary Consul, provides limited consular assistance to Australians in Ukraine. The Consulate does not issue Australian passports, but can provide Provisional Travel Documents for emergency travel to the nearest Australian Embassy. The Australian Embassy in Poland is able to provide full consular assistance to Australians in Ukraine.
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Entry and exit

Australian citizens are required to obtain a visa to visit or transit Ukraine. Visa on arrival is not available to Australian citizens. Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Ukraine for the most up to date information and for visa services. The Australian Embassy in Warsaw is not able to assist with visa applications for or exit visas from Ukraine. Unless you are staying in a hotel, foreign citizens are required to register with the local immigration authorities.

As Ukraine does not recognise dual nationality Australian/Ukrainian dual nationals are advised to confirm visa requirements, including exit requirements, with the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Ukraine before travelling to Ukraine.

Ukrainian customs regulations require you to declare cash and jewellery upon arrival in Ukraine. Undeclared items may be confiscated. Customs regulations also apply on the export of currency, antiques, art and items of historic significance. You should check with the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Ukraine the amount of cash you can take into and out of the country. Excessive funds may be confiscated by customs officials and only returned following court proceedings.

Make sure your passport has at least six months validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

Civil unrest/political tension

We advise travellers to reconsider their need to travel to Ukraine overall due to the unpredictable security situation across the country. If you are in Ukraine and are concerned for your safety or security, you should consider leaving or applying additional security measures.

The security situation in other regions is also unpredictable. Tensions are at a high level across the country and the security situation could deteriorate further without warning. On 26 July 2014, the Mayor of Kremenchuk in central Ukraine was assassinated and an attack took place against the Mayor of Lviv in the western region. There were also reports of renewed fighting in the east.

Australians should continue to avoid locations where demonstrations and large public gatherings are evident, as even peaceful protests may become violent.

Donetsk and Luhansk: We continue to advise against all travel to the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk due to ongoing conflict and the highly volatile security situation. There is continuing heavy fighting with loss of life in both Donetsk and Luhansk. Conflict has occurred in a number of towns and cities in these provinces, including Luhansk, Slovyansk, Mariupol, Kramatorsk, and Svyatohirsk, and may occur again without warning. There have also been localised attacks during times of cease fire.Australians in the Luhansk and Donetsk provinces should leave by commercial means if it is safe to do so. If you are unable to leave, limit your movements, avoid demonstrations and public gatherings, and be alert for risks to your safety and security.

Armed groups continue to control areas of Donetsk and Luhansk provinces, and have established illegal road blocks and checkpoints. These groups have threatened, detained, and on occasions kidnapped, individuals for hours or days. Journalists should exercise particular caution and seek specialist security advice.

Travellers should check with their airline for up to date information on flights to and from eastern provinces. A number of airports in the provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk have been affected by the violence, including the SS Prokofiev International Airport in Donetsk which remains closed to all flights.

Crimea: We advise Australians not to travel to Crimea at this time as it is not under Government control, and the security situation remains tense and unresolved. Australians presently in Crimea should leave by commercial means if it is safe to do so. If you are unable to leave, limit your movements, stay indoors, and avoid demonstrations and large public gatherings.

Our ability to provide consular assistance to Australians in these areas is limited.

Terrorism

There is an ongoing threat of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin for more information on terrorism and our General advice to Australian travellers for tips on staying safe overseas.

Crime

The rate of crime is increasing in Ukraine. Robbery, pickpocketing and bag snatching occur regularly particularly on public transport, at crowded markets, in popular tourist areas and in bars and nightclubs. Drink spiking, with the intention of robbing the victim while incapacitated, has been reported. Street scams are common. Criminals are known to target foreigners.

Australians should take extra care at night in the centre of Kyiv as there have been reports of an increase in street crime and muggings.

Some Australians have been defrauded by bogus internet friendship, dating and marriage schemes operating in Ukraine. These scams typically result from connections made through internet dating schemes or chat rooms. Once a virtual friendship develops, the Australian may be asked by their friend or prospective marriage partner to send money to enable travel to Australia or to pay rent or other living costs for their friend/fiancÚ. In some cases the relationship is terminated, with very little chance that any funds can be recovered.

Money and valuables

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible. Review the general advice to Australian travellers for further information on being safe and prepared abroad.

There have been reports of credit card scams, especially related to the use of ATMs. We advise you to be vigilant when using your credit card and limit its use to respectable commercial establishments and ATMs in secure locations (such as inside banks).

Local travel

MH17 crash site: On 17 July Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was brought down in the area around Torez in Donetsk province, an area to which we advise against all travel. Multiple hazards can exist at an aircraft accident site. Australians should be aware of the hazards of visiting the accident site before exposing themselves to possible risk of serious injury. The aircraft wreckage at an accident site should be treated as if it were a crime scene and disturbed as little as possible. Removing or disturbing material can seriously hamper an investigation. If you choose to travel to these areas, despite our strong advice against travel, you should engage the services of professional security advisers.

Other information on local travel: You are required to carry your passport with you at all times. Foreigners may be stopped by local police and asked to present passports and visas. Unless you are staying in a hotel, foreign nationals are required to register with local authorities.

Foreign drivers must possess a valid international driver's licence. Drivers must be able to produce either an original ownership certificate, rental contract or a power of attorney from the owner of the car.

Driving in Ukraine can be hazardous. Roads outside major cities are of a low standard and poorly lit. Drivers can be aggressive and ignore the road rules. Rural roads are often used by unsafe vehicles. Driving under the influence of alcohol is common despite the zero tolerance law. Pedestrians should take particular care as drivers may not stop at crossings and may park on footpaths. For further advice, see our road travel page.

Airline safety

Please refer to our air travel for information about aviation safety and security. Information on aviation safety in Ukraine is also available from the website of the Aviation Safety Network page.

Laws

If you choose to travel to Ukraine, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.

Driving with a blood alcohol level greater than zero is an offence.

While homosexuality is legal in Ukraine, public attitudes are less tolerant than in Australia. See our LGBTI travellers page.

Australians visiting Ukraine for the purposes of commissioning commercial surrogacy arrangements should seek legal advice before doing so. You should see our Overseas births, adoptions and surrogacies page for further information.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Information for dual nationals

Ukraine does not recognise dual nationality. Australian citizens entering Ukraine on their Ukrainian passport will be treated as Ukrainian citizens by local authorities. This may limit the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular assistance to Australian/Ukrainian dual nationals who are arrested or detained.

Recent reports advise that on 1 May 2014, Ukraine reintroduced compulsory military service for male citizens over 18 years of age. Australian/Ukrainian dual nationals should confirm with the nearest Ukraine Embassy or Consulate whether this will affect them prior to visiting Ukraine.

For further information, contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Ukraine, before you travel. Our Dual nationals page provides further information.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

Outside the major cities including Kyiv, Odessa, Donetsk and Lviv, the standard of state medical facilities in Ukraine is generally low and there are frequent shortages of medical supplies. English is not widely spoken outside major centres, except in private clinics. Private health care services are of a better standard, but always require a guarantee of payment before commencing treatment. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with appropriate facilities may be necessary. Medical evacuation costs would be considerable.

Travellers requiring medical attention may contact the Australian Embassy in Warsaw for a list of medical facilities available in Ukraine (see Where to Get Help below).

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, measles, diphtheria, hepatitis and rabies) are prevalent, with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water and avoid ice cubes. You should also avoid raw and undercooked food, and unpasteurised dairy products.

Travel in forested areas brings the risk of exposure to tick-borne encephalitis and other tick-borne diseases. Ticks are common from spring to autumn.

In regions of Ukraine contaminated by radiation from the Chernobyl accident, we recommend you avoid eating dairy products, wild fowl and game and fruits and vegetables unless they are imported.

Where to get help

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurance provider in the first instance.

Australia has a Consulate in Kyiv, headed by an Honorary Consul. The Consulate provides limited consular assistance which does not include the issue of Australian passports. The Consulate is able to issue Provisional Travel Documents for emergency travel to the Australian Embassy in Poland.

You can obtain full consular assistance from the Australian Embassy in Poland. Contact details are:

Australian Embassy, Warsaw

3rd Floor, Nautilus Building
ul. Nowogrodzka 11
00-513 Warsaw, Poland
Telephone: (48 22) 521 3444
Facsimile: (48 22) 627 3500
Website: www.poland.embassy.gov.au
E-mail: ambasada.australia@dfat.gov.au

Contact details for the Consulate in Ukraine are:

Australian Consulate, Kyiv

Turhenievska str, 45-49
Office 53
01054 Kyiv, Ukraine
Telephone: +38 044 206 6698
Facsimile: +38 044 206 6696
E-mail: australianconsulateua@gmail.com

If you are travelling to Ukraine, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Embassy you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.