Entry and Exit
So where do we start our advice on how to travel to Ukraine? Firstly, those who want to come to Ukraine need to make sure their passport is valid. A passport is considered valid if its expiry date is no less than in six months beyond the planned date of travel. Travelling with an invalid passport may cause difficulties not only at the borders, but boarding planes as well. As for an ID card, while not used widely in Ukraine and not required to be obtained, it can serve as a way to proof identity along with the passport or driver's license. Locals usually use internal passport for these purposes. Often when preparing for the trip the next question arises: "Do I need a visa to travel to Ukraine from USA?", Unless the trip is less than 90 days within a 180 day period, you don't need a visa for travelling to Ukraine from the USA.
The stay for more than 90 days within 180 day period requires a visa or 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. The important detail is, the visa can not be issued at the border — it needs to be done in advance at the local Ukrainian Embassy or Consulate. All the information and details given for a travel visa to Ukraine from USA should be checked carefully as sometimes U.S. citizens try to cross the borders before their visa allows to do 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. It's necessary to remember that date format in Ukraine is day-month-year to avoid miscommunications and confusion.
Then, while entering Ukraine, customs officers will need to see your valid passport, a valid visa (if needed), a physical inventory of your belongings, and in case you will be working in Ukraine — an accreditation from your employer. Remember that 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. These are the main travel requirements to get to Ukraine from the US. Now, let's see about the ways to get to the goal.
How to travel to Ukraine from the US
The most comfortable way to get to Ukraine is, naturally, by airplanes. International airports are located in all key Ukrainian cities: Kyiv, Kharkiv, Lviv, Odesa and Dnipro. Starting 2017, many of them started adding new flight destinations, including non-stop flights to Europe and Asia. The most popular and easiest to travel from the US to Ukraine, however, is Boryspil airport (KBP), situated in a 40-minutes drive from Kyiv's downtown. There are several ways to get to the city from the airport: one 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 taxi, either from the ones that are present at the airport or taxi services like Uber or Uklon. It will cost about UAH 240-400, depending on the destination and taxi service.
Currently, the most popular airlines to travel to Ukraine are United, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines and Ukrainian Airlines. They offer flights from New York, Chicago, Washington DC, Dallas and Houston with one or more stops at the major transportation points in Europe. Unfortunately, non-stop flight routes of travel to Ukraine are hard to find from the US. Ukrainian Airlines and other flight companies are working on implementing new routes and non-stop flights starting 2017-2018 due to the recently obtained visa-free regime with the European Union.
Another way of how to travel to Ukraine from USA is finding cheap flights to Eastern European cities and crossing the border by a train. Thus, newly introduced train destinations include Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria. For instance, daily express trains Intercity go from Polish Przemyśl to Lviv and Kyiv.
Useful tips while travelling to Ukraine from USA
Firstly, buy or download a phrasebook: Google translator does not always give accurate translations of long sentences and only functions with Internet connection. While the younger generation usually understands and speaks English well, the elderly may have trouble to get by. In case your phone battery is dead and any question arises, it is better to apply to the younger-looking passers-by. The less 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.
Download smartphone applications for travelers with maps that work without Internet connection as 3G connection often does not function well enough across all the territory of the country. Usually those apps have all the necessary info on what do you need to know to travel to Ukraine from many countries, including USA.
Electricity standard in Ukraine is 220 volts, 50Hz. A converter is usually necessary to use the electric appliances — consider purchasing an Eastern-European adapter, as the US plug won't work here.
And what about travel safety in Ukraine? It`s always an important issue – no matter if you are travelling alone or with friends. 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 (especially if you are travelling by yourself and have no company); 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 number saved in contacts. In case of any emergency it is always better to contact the Embassy of your country. Following these tips makes travelling to Ukraine safe.
Ukraine has a wide and highly-developed system of public transport. All cities and towns have buses and shuttle vans (so-called “marshrutkas” – probably the most popular kind of public transport in Ukraine). The bigger cities have trams, trolleybuses and subway. The prices for using public transport depend on a city, but usually foreigners find them quite cheap in any point of Ukraine. For example, in Kyiv, which is considered to be the most expensive city of the country, a ride on bus or subway costs UAH 8 (USD 0.25). If we consider taxi rides in Kyiv, price for a ride on local Uber or Uklon is usually 50-250 UAH (USD 2-8).
Few words about climate in Ukraine. Ukraine has moderate continental climate with clearly expressed seasons. The hottest months in Ukraine are July and August, while January and February are the coldest ones. For example, if you come in August, you can expect temperature around 25-35 C, so you can leave your warm clothes at home. But if you come for New Year celebration, the temperature can drop down below -20 C, so you better pack your warm overcoat and boots. Springs and falls are probably the most comfortable seasons in the terms of climate, especially if we talk about May and September when the weather is still warm but not hot (around 15-20 C). Regarding precipitations, the amount varies depending on region, but usually there is not too much of them.
Travelling to a new country as Ukraine often might be as scary as it is exciting. With the right preparation and research, the journey is bound to be care free, now that you know how to travel from USA to Ukraine in detail. We hope that we provided you with all you need to know before your trip, including information on required documents, international and local transport, safety and communication tips, Ukrainian climate and weather conditions. Enjoy the stay and welcome to Ukraine!
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