Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe, with an area of almost 604,000 sq km and a population of approximately 45 million. Ukraine shares borders with Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Belarus and Russia. Its capital city is Kiev with approximately 3.3 million inhabitants and the other major cities of note are Luhansk, Lviv, Kharkhiv and Odessa.
Most visits to Ukraine are enjoyable, safe and trouble free but should it be the case that assistance may be required at some stage of your visit, the following numbers may useful:
|Ambulance/Municipal First Aid||103|
|Natural Gas and Fire Emergency Service||104|
The Department of Foreign Affairs strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before travelling to Ukraine. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.
Irish Citizens should note that the Irish Government does not provide funds for emergency medical repatriation or for repatriation of remains.
Safety and Security
It is advisable to carry your passport on you at all time as Ukrainian police often carry out passport checks on foreign nationals. Police officers must introduce themselves by name, post, rank and the reason for checking you (ID check) and must present a document verifying their position. Only original passports are accepted by the police in these circumstances as they typically seek to establish your status in Ukraine. If detained, you should request an official police report.
It is also advisable to email yourself a copy of your passport or to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you in case your passport is lost or stolen. If your passport has been lost/stolen you must report it to the nearest police station.
You should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.
Visitors may wish to be aware that demonstrations are held more frequently during the summer and it is recommended they be avoided.
Petty crime rates are moderate and visitors should exercise vigilance in keeping valuables and cash out of sight, especially in crowded areas and tourist spots or when using public transport, where pickpockets and bag snatchers typically operate. Particular care should be taken on public transport, especially on any overnight trains and it is recommended, if possible, to travel accompanied and in a compartment that can be secured from the inside.
Be aware of a common scam 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.
Whilst most visits to Ukraine are trouble-free, there has been a noted rise in the reported instance of muggings and other attacks in Kiev and other urban centres. All visitors should exercise caution but especially so for travellers of Asian or Afro-Caribbean descent and individuals belonging to religious minorities as some of these attacks have reportedly been racially motivated.
Penalties for drug offences are severe. Do not buy drugs on the street, the sale and distribution of which are illegal. Such drugs are often hazardous counterfeits.
Never leave drinks or food unattended and it is unadvisable to accept drinks from strangers or casual acquaintances.
Always report theft of property to the police without delay.
There is a zero tolerance policy on drink driving in Ukraine. Road conditions in Ukraine especially in rural areas can often be extremely hazardous, especially at night.
Local Laws and Customs
Smoking and drinking alcohol in public places such as public transport, bus stops, underground crossings, playgrounds, parks, cultural and sports venues, government establishments, etc. are officially prohibited.
It is prohibited to take photographs in the vicinity of government or military establishments.
Most towns and cities have a comprehensive network of buses,
trolleybuses and trams. Tickets (“bilet”) can usually be
bought at ticket booths at major stops; if not, then once on board,
a ticket should be bought 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
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 and it should be remembered that passengers often pay their fares by passing money to the driver via fellow passengers.
Non-regulated taxi drivers can overcharge and it is advisable to use official taxis only. Such 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 www.express-taxi.ua
Etalon taxi (tel. +380-44-501-55-01/502-54-54 www.etalontaxi.com.ua.
There are strict customs regulations governing the export from Ukraine of antiques and items of historical interest. If in doubt seek prior permission from customs authorities. Failure to comply with local rules may result in payment of fines, confiscation of property or unplanned delay in travel.
Natural Disasters and Climate
Ukraine experiences a temperate continental climate, with some areas in the Southern Crimean coast enjoying Mediterranean conditions. Summers are typically warm rather than hot, reaching 20 degrees Celsius in July and August. Winters can be long and quite cold with daytime temperatures in January often being no higher than -3 degrees Celsius. The coldest and warmest part of the country is traditionally the inland region.
Ukraine is located in a seismically active zone and small earth tremors may occur from time to time. Independent advice on how to prepare for an earthquake and how to protect yourself during an earthquake or tremor is available from many sources online.
DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR MISSIONS
If you intend to stay in Ukraine for an extended period of time, you are encouraged to register your presence with the Irish Embassy, which is based in Prague, through the Consulate of Ireland in Kiev. Contact details are available here. (Opens in new window)Top