Sometimes the enthusiasm of the upcoming trip can be dissolved by the sole fact that you need to gather a ton of information, and then decide whether it’s actually useful or not. When it comes to Ukraine, some sites providing crucial tips are available only in Ukrainian or Russian, preventing from being carefully and fully prepared. Destinations gathered the essential information and tips in a guide on travel requirements to get to Ukraine from Canada.
The first and the most necessary step before any trip is to make sure the passport you are booking plane tickets with is valid. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, a passport is considered valid if its expiry date is at least 6 months beyond the intended date of departure from Ukraine. An ID card, so popular in the US and Canada, is not a required document in Ukraine, but it can serve as an additional way to prove identity along with the passport or driver's license. The next requirements to travel to Ukraine from Canada are quite simple and known well to those who often travel around the world.
Upon entering Ukraine, customs officers will ask you for a valid passport, a valid visa (if needed), a physical inventory of your belongings, and in case your intention of stay includes working in Ukraine — an accreditation from your employer. The following items can be charged with a tax: coin and stamp collections, sculptures, icons, musical instruments, objects made before 1945, artist drawings, precious metals or stones, and any other items of cultural value. If relevant, the afore-mentioned objects should be registered with their serial number, the name of the artist, and the name of their work. Needless to say, items such as weapons, drugs, pornography, fresh meats, vegetables, pets, and plants are prohibited to import.
The next step while preparing an upcoming trip is to ask yourself: "Do I need a visa to travel to Ukraine from Canada?" In most cases, citizens of Canada do not need a visa to transit or travel on the territory of Ukraine. However, if the expected period of stay is over 90 days in a 180-day term, you do need a visa to get a valid Ukrainian residency permit. If the purpose of travel includes employment, permanent residency, study and work at the diplomatic missions exceeding 90 days within 180 days period, one needs a visa as well. Such visa can’t be issued at the border — all the necessary preparations need to be done in advance at the local Ukrainian Embassy or Consulate.
Read: How to Get a Ukrainian Visa
One more important tip about visas that may seem not so obvious is to carefully check the visa date. While Canada uses both day-month-year and month-day-year formats, in Ukraine the date is written as day-month-year. Sometimes citizens of the United States or Canada confuse the formats and try to cross the border before the visa allows doing it. In such cases, a citizen will be not allowed to enter Ukraine and will be sent to their point of origin at their own expense, that’s why you should always check details on the visa to Ukraine from Canada before booking flights.
How to travel to Ukraine from Canada
For dwellers of Canada, the most comfortable way to get to Ukraine is, of course, boarding a plane. Up to date airlines like Air Canada, Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Swiss International Airlines and Ukrainian Airlines offer flights from Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary, and St. John's with one or more stops at the major transportation points in Europe. Luckily, due to the improvement in the diplomatic relations of both countries, a non-stop flight to Ukraine from Canada will be implemented as well. From June 6 2018, Ukrainian International Airlines will host flight Kyiv – Toronto three times a week in the high season, and starting October 2018 the flight will operate twice a week. Booking is already available on the UIA web site. International airports are located in all key Ukrainian cities: Kyiv, Kharkiv, Lviv, Odesa, and Dnipro.
The most popular and easiest to travel from Canada to Ukraine is Boryspil airport (KBP), which will host the non-stop flight starting this summer. As the airport is situated in about 40 km from the city, you need to choose a transfer to get to the hotel or Airbnb. There are several ways to get to the city quickly: one of them is riding a shuttle – Sky Bus – which leaves several times an hour and drives you to the nearest metro station, Kharkivska, or to the main railway station Pivdenny, located in the center of Kyiv. Usually, Sky Bus follows the next schedule: leaves every 15 minutes from 6 A.M. to 10 P.M. and every 45 minutes from 10 P.M. to 6 A.M. The ticket costs UAH 80. Another way to get to the capital is a taxi, either from the ones that are present at the airport, though they may offer a higher price, or taxi services like Uber or Uklon. It will cost about UAH 240-400, depending on the destination and taxi service.
Read: 10 Kyiv Hostels Recommended by TripAdvisor
Besides, a high-speed railway track connecting Kyiv and KBP is soon to appear. Construction works are promised to begin no later than June 2018 and be finished by the end of the year. The new railway will enable passengers to get to Boryspil airport in 35 minutes. At the moment, the ticket price is estimated to be UAH 80—120.
Another way of how to travel to Ukraine from Canada is finding cheap flights to Eastern European cities and crossing the border by a train. This is the perfect option for those who want to travel more and enjoy the wonders of the neighboring countries. The newly introduced train destinations to/from Ukraine include Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, and Bulgaria. For instance, daily express trains Intercity go from Polish Przemyśl to Lviv and Kyiv. A detailed schedule and prices are available at the Ukrzaliznytsia (Ukrainian Railways) web site or mobile app.
Useful tips while traveling to Ukraine from Canada
Now, let’s see what tips may come in handy when you finally come over to Ukraine.
Firstly, the capital is full of high-standard hotels that offer rooms for the decent price. This concerns both 5-star and 4-star hotels, located at both banks of the city for convenience. Another way to look for housing is to book a room at Airbnb. This way, you can communicate with a local host, find out more about the neighborhood, and sometimes even try dishes from Ukrainian cuisine, as locals are usually quite hospitable.
While the younger generation usually understands and speaks English well, the elderly may have trouble to get by. That’s why it may be better to buy or download a phrasebook, as Google translator does not always give accurate translations of long sentences. In case your phone battery is dead, it is better to apply to the younger-looking passers-by for help. The least they can do for you, if they do not know the address you seek for instance, is to show the route on the Google Maps app from their smartphone or help to read signs on the paper map.
Read: Connecting Expats in Ukraine
Smartphone applications for travelers with maps that work without an Internet connection are a must in Ukraine. Firstly, it is simply convenient to have all information in one place. Usually, those apps have all the necessary info on what you need to know to travel to Ukraine from many countries, including Canada. Another reason for downloading those is that 3G connection often does not function well enough across all the territory of the country, especially away from the big cities.
Electricity standard in Ukraine is 220 volts, 50Hz. Consider purchasing an Eastern-European adapter, because a Canadian plug won't work here because of the different socket type.
Usually, the visits to Ukraine are trouble-free, but it's important to remember about personal measures of security: avoid walking alone late at night in dark or poorly lit streets; keep your valuables and cash safe and out of sight, especially in crowded areas, tourist spots and public transport. It is recommended to have your ID with you, as well as the Embassy or Consulate number saved in contacts. There are two spots of consular assistance for Canadian citizens in Ukraine: Embassy of Canada in Kyiv, and Consulate of Canada in Lviv. In case an emergency arises, it is always better to contact the consulate representatives of your country.
Travelling often might be as scary as exciting. With the right preparation and research, the journey will be carefree and full of unforgettable memories. Enjoy the stay!
Photo source: shutterstock.com. All images belong to their rightful authors.