According to the World Tourism Organization, in 2011 Ukraine was holding the 9th spot among the most visited countries in Europe. This is quite an achievement considering the fact that our country is unable to brag about sights as famous as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, or the coastline in Spain. The Euro 2012 football tournament exposed Ukraine even further. Because of its proximity to the European Union, thousands of people decided to visit Ukraine by car. Unfortunately, not everyone found this task easy to accomplish.
This article is designed to provide you with enough information so that your car journey from Europe to Ukraine goes as smoothly as possible.
It is important that you meet State Traffic Laws before you embark on your journey to Ukraine. Foreign nationals crossing a Ukrainian border by car must have the following:
- Car registration documents
- Driver’s license
- Vehicle registration plate with information written in Roman characters
- Your country’s two-letter country code bumper sticker
- Green Card insurance certificate
You are not required a temporary registration document for your vehicle, unless you intend to stay in Ukraine longer than you are permitted by your travel document (EU nationals can stay in Ukraine for up to 90 days).
Drivers from the UK, please note: you must also have headlamp converters. These are the stickers you put on your headlamps to prevent dazzling drivers who are coming the other way, when you are driving on the right.
These days almost every driver has a GPS navigator in their car. You cannot underestimate the value of this gadget, especially if you planning to drive in a country as infamous for its road traffic signs as Ukraine. Getting to Kiev might not be a problem. But if you were to drive to Poltava (or any other smaller city of Ukraine), navigating by solely relying on road traffic signs can be quite a challenge.
There are a number of companies that offer inexpensive road maps of Ukraine. These maps are available for download, and can be easily installed on any GPS navigator. iGo, Libelle, Navitel, Visicom and Naviextras are just to name a few. For instance, Naviextras sells their road map of Ukraine for as little as US $14.95. Their map is also available for rent for US $7.95. Be sure to check out other companies to find a map that meets your needs and the size of your pocketbook.
Choosing a Highway
In the west Ukraine borders Poland, Slovenia, and Hungary. Your route to Ukraine from Europe will largely depend on where you are coming from, and what your final destination is.
With so many options at your disposal, for the sake of this article let’s assume that the last country of the European Union you will be crossing on your way to Ukraine is Poland, and your final destination is Kiev, the capital.
Roads between Poland and Ukraine have always been in an unsatisfactory condition. Yet the moment the two countries were announced as co-hosts of the Euro 2012 tournament, both states have invested tons of cash to repair the roads connecting them. According to some accounts, Ukraine alone has spent more than 500 million Euros. Most of this money went to repair the highway connecting Lublin in Poland with Kiev in Ukraine. Not incidentally, most drivers from Europe opt to take this route.
If you drive this highway, you will have to cross Ukrainian border checkpoint called Yagodin. This checkpoint is located in Starovoytove village, Volyn oblast, Ukraine.
Kiev — Kobel — Yagodin is a Ukrainian state international highway (M-07 route) that is 478 kilometers (299 miles) long. From the European side it is route E373, which is a European route that is a part of the International E-road network. In Poland, this road is labeled as S12. Distance from Yagodin to Lublin is 102 kilometers (64 miles), which takes approximately one and a half hour to drive.
Rules for Crossing the Border by Car
Please note that the rules for crossing Ukrainian border by air are slightly different from rules for crossing a Ukrainian border by car.
The following is a list of items you are not required to pay custom fees and tax for while crossing Ukrainian border:
- Goods that cost up to 500 Euros, and weigh less than 50 kilos (110 pounds).
- Personal belongings such as phones, digital cameras, clothing and computers.
- Cash up to 10,000 Euros does not need to be declared.
- 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars
- 1 liter of strong alcoholic beverage (vodka, liquor etc.), 2 liters of wine and 5 liters of beer.
- Groceries for personal consumption worth of up to 200 Euros per person, up to 2 kilos (4.4 pounds).
- Medical drugs for personal use, not more than stated in a subscription provided by your doctor.
Driving in Ukraine
Once you cross Ukrainian border, you are not permitted to drive unless your vehicle is equipped with the following items:
- a fire extinguisher
- a medical emergency kit
- an AAA emergency warning triangle
Unless your vehicle is not equipped with them, you will have to wear your seatbelts at all occasions while driving within Ukraine.
For driving outside of populated areas:
- You can drive up to 70 km/hour if you have less than 2 years of driving experience
- You can drive up to 130 km/hour on roads marked with a sign ‘Highway’ (image to the right).
- You can drive up to 110 km/hour on roads with at least 1 lane in each direction separated by a solid white line.
- And up to 90 km/hour on other roads
For driving within populated areas:
- You can drive up to 60 km/hour in populated areas marked with a sign ‘Populated Area on white background’ (image to the right).
- You can drive up to 90 km/hour in populated areas marked with a sign ‘Populated Area on blue background’ (image to the right).
- There are very few traffic police officers in Ukraine who speaks any English at all.
- Many roads have potholes. These are hard to spot when the road surface is wet.
- Crossing the border might take a long time, so don’t plan to accomplish too many things on that day.
- Driving a car with a lot of ground clearance is a very good idea.
- Road markings are either in a poor condition, or permanently missing (cats eyes is a rarity).
This article was written by Alex from Poltava Travel.