Ukraine

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Thursday, 02 April 2015.   This advice has been reviewed and updated. We have lowered the level of the advice. We now advise Australians to exercise a high degree of caution in Ukraine. The travel advisory also contains new information, including on violence in Kharkiv (see Civil unrest/political tension). Australians should reconsider their need to travel to Kharkiv. We continue to advise Australians not to travel to Crimea, and the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Ukraine overall

Crimea

Regions of Donetsk and Luhansk

Kharkiv

Summary

  • * We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Ukraine. The security situation across the country remains unpredictable. Tensions could escalate further without warning. You should pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the media and other sources about possible new security risks.
  • We continue to advise against all travel to the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, including to the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash site, due to ongoing conflict and the highly volatile security situation. There has been continuing heavy fighting with loss of life in both Donetsk and Luhansk regions, including during periods of declared ceasefire.
  • Armed separatist groups control parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which is not recognised by the Ukrainian government or the international community, including Australia. These groups have threatened, detained, and on occasion kidnapped, foreign nationals.
  • We advise Australians not to travel to Crimea at this time as it is not under Government control.
  • If you are already in Crimea or the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, you should leave by commercial means if it is safe to do so.
  • We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Kharkiv due to politically-motivated violence in the city, which is likely to continue. A bomb attack on a procession in Kharkiv on 22 February resulted in three fatalities. A car bomb exploded in the city on 6 March. You should think seriously about your need to travel to Kharkiv. If you decide to travel, you should stay as short a time as possible, eliminate unnecessary activities, and review your security arrangements.
  • Australia has opened an Embassy in Kyiv, co-located with the Canadian Embassy, at 13A Kostelna Street. Australia also has a Consulate in Kyiv, headed by an Honorary Consul. Consular assistance for Australians is available from both the Embassy and the Consulate, although the government’s ability to provide assistance to Australians in the Crimea and the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk is limited. The Embassy and the Consulate do not issue Australian passports, but the Consulate can provide Provisional Travel Documents for emergency travel to the Australian Embassy in Warsaw, which is able to issue Australian passports.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
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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 Kyiv 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.

The Government of Ukraine has stated that foreign nationals who attempt to enter Ukrainian-controlled territory through separatist-controlled checkpoints in Donetsk and Luhansk regions will not be permitted to pass through government checkpoints. The Government of Ukraine has also advised that it will not permit foreign nationals to enter Ukrainian-controlled territory from Crimea if they have entered Crimea from any other country.

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.

Safety and security

Civil unrest/political tension

Tensions continue to be high in major cities in Ukraine and the security situation could deteriorate further without warning.

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 regions of Donetsk and Luhansk due to ongoing conflict and the volatile security situation. Armed separatist groups are in control of parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Reduced by ongoing fighting has continued despite the signing of ceasefire agreements.

These groups have threatened, detained, and on occasion kidnapped, foreigners for hours or days. The Government of Ukraine has stated that foreigners who attempt to enter Ukrainian-controlled territory through separatist-controlled checkpoints would not be permitted to pass through government checkpoints.

Conflict has also occurred in a number of towns and cities in Donetsk and Luhansk regions which are under government control, including, Slovyansk, Mariupol, Kramatorsk, and Svyatohirsk, and may occur again without warning.

Australians in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions 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 to risks to your safety and security.

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

Crimea: We advise Australians not to travel to Crimea as it is not under Government control. The Government of Ukraine has advised that it will not permit foreign nationals to enter Ukrainian-controlled territory from Crimea, if they have entered Crimea through any other country. Australians presently in Crimea should leave by commercial means if it is safe to do so. If you are unable to leave, avoid demonstrations and large public gatherings.

Our ability to provide consular assistance to Australians in the Crimea and the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, to which we advise against all travel, is limited.

Kharkiv: We advise Australians to reconsider their need to travel to Kharkiv. Incidents of politically-motivated violence resulting in fatalities have occurred in the city, and they are likely to continue. Three people were killed during a bomb attack on a procession in Kharkiv on 22 February 2015. A car bomb exploded in the city on 6 March 2015. Australians should think seriously about their need to travel to Kharkiv. If you decide to travel, you should stay as short a time as possible, eliminate unnecessary activities, and review your security arrangements.

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 Worldwide bulletin.

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

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).

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 online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

Local travel

MH17 crash site: On 17 July Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was downed near Grabovo in Donetsk region, an area to which we advise against all travel. Multiple dangers can exist at an aircraft accident site. Australians should be aware of the dangers of visiting the accident site before exposing themselves to possible risk of serious injury. Any remaining 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.

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

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Ukraine.

Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

You are subject to the local laws of Ukraine, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you’re arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

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.

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.

Ukraine has 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, Kharkiv, Odessa, 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 Kyiv 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 insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24 hour emergency number.

For criminal issues, contact the local police on 102. The national emergency number is 112. You should also obtain a police report when reporting a crime.
The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and can’t do to assist Australians overseas. For consular assistance, see contact details below.

Australia has an Embassy in Kyiv, as well as a Consulate, headed by an Honorary Consul. Both provide 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, which can issue Australian passports.

Australian Embassy, Kyiv (co-located with the Canadian Embassy)

13A Kostelna Street
Kyiv
Telephone: +380 44 290 6400
E-mail: AustEmbKyiv@dfat.gov.au

Australian Consulate, Kyiv

Turhenievska str, 45-49
Office 53
01054 Kyiv
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.

Additional information

For other useful information to assist travelling in this country, see:



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.