Each person who comes to a foreign country faces lots of confusing situations. The reason for it may not be limited by the ignorance of the language spoken there only. Peculiarities of etiquette, traditions and local mentality, the discrepancies in legislation, and such important things as the time lag and another climate – all these can lead to misunderstandings and awkward situations. In the site section “Essentials” you can find all necessary information that may help you to avoid any possible difficulties when you visit Ukraine.
When crossing the state border of Ukraine, you will need to pass customs checkpoint and to fill in customs declaration. It is necessary to know which kind of personal belongings can be transported through the border without declaring and paying taxes, and which you will need to declare.
According to the Ukrainian legislation, the physical body has the right to bring into the territory of the country cash in amount that is equivalent to not more than 10 000 euro without the written declaration. In case, money you have exceeds this amount, you must have an individual license issued by the National Bank of Ukraine, as well as documents on the withdrawal the amount of money that exceeds 10 000 euro from your bank account. As for the export of cash from Ukraine the procedure is the same. Remember that you have the right to export money in the amount that doesn’t exceeds that you have imported and declared previously…
Tending to meet the European standards Kiev is becoming more and more safe city. Surely, the crime situation has a place here, like in any other big city. But it is way too far from that in 90s. In order to avoid pick-pocketing or some other negative experience, just stick to some basic precautionary measures. Firstly, make sure you keep money and documents in a reliable place. The best solution would be keeping the valuables in a hotel’s safe. If you carry big sum of money, try not to flash it in public and keep it in inside pockets.
Other safety tips don’t significantly differ from those regarding other megalopolises. Try not to delay to check your luggage after arrival as some airport service faults may occur. Also, when exchanging currency use only official currency exchange offices. As firstly illegal money exchange is considered as a criminal offence in Ukraine. And secondly you may just fall a victim of fraud by receiving counterfeit bills.
However, if you are unlucky enough to become the victim of crime, immediately inform the local authorities and the embassy of your country.
Addresses of embassies
Before coming to Ukraine, it is useful to collect all the contact information concerning your embassy. Being a diplomatic city Kiev has dozens of foreign embassies. On this website you will find all the addresses and phone numbers of the major foreign embassies in Ukraine. Write down the information you may require in case you have some misunderstandings or confusing situations when being in Ukraine. Write down the contacts information of your embassy in case you have some misunderstandings in Ukraine and you need help.
Most part of the Ukrainian territory has the moderate continental type of climate with only Mediterranean climate found in the Southern Crimea. The main climate characteristics of Ukraine are the high level of precipitation and cloudiness in winter and fall disproportionately distributed with western and northern part getting most rains and snow. All the four seasons last equally for 3 months. The average winter temperature ranges from 17 to 35 Fahrenheit degrees (from -8 to +1 degrees C) however sometimes it can fall up to -4 Fahrenheit degrees (-20 degrees C). In summer the average temperature varies from 65 to 80 Fahrenheit degrees (from +18 to +27 degrees C) but during the hottest days it can rise up to 104 Fahrenheit degrees (+40 degrees C). Mind that when packing your luggage as it’s quite easy to catch cold. So make sure you take warm clothes just in case, when coming to Ukraine. Meanwhile, in summer the dress code may be quite light and it is advisable to wear a hat to protect yourself from sunstrokes.
The voltage in electric networks of Ukraine is 220 volts 50 Hz. The design of the plugs and sockets differs from that in the United States. At the moment there are two types of set plugs and sockets in Ukraine. They are the so-called «C» and «F» (look at the image on the left). If you bring some appliances that are electricity powered, be sure to take adaptors so that gadgets could work properly. Regarding sensitive to instable electricity appliances, it’s better to connect them to additional devices controlling the fluctuation of voltage in electricity network.
Ukrainian time zone is 2 hours ahead of GMT. Arriving to Kiev it is advisable to put the clock forward in order to avoid misunderstandings. However, if you still feel confused about the time, you can call 060 to know the exact time. Mind that in Ukraine it is agreed to put the clock an hour forward in the last week of March and an hour back in the last week of October. So be ready to that.
The state language of Ukraine is the Ukrainian language according to the Constitution. All the documentation is kept in this language. Still the significant part of the population speaks Russian especially in the eastern and southern parts of the country. A lot of magazines, TV channels and radio stations also use the Russian language. So if you don’t know Ukrainian but speak Russian, it won’t be difficult to get along with the Ukrainians.
Moreover, in Kiev the classes of Russian or Ukrainian as foreign languages became a very popular tendency. You can also hire a professional guide-interpreter who will tell you everything you want to know about the city and help to communicate with the locals. Alternatively, if you don’t have much time, you can purchase an English-Ukrainian or English-Russian phrasebook, where you will find the majority of phrases you might need.
Remember that in all hotels, restaurants, banks and shops and cafes you can freely communicate with the staff in English, that makes your trip to Ukraine much more pleasurable. If you need any advice in the street, you should address to young people, mostly students, because the curriculum of most higher education institutions and schools includes learning English.
Before travelling to Ukraine it will be useful to learn some basic phrases that will help you to communicate with local residents. You can see them here. Ukrainians are very hospitable, and if they hear from a foreigner a few words in Russian or Ukrainian, even if it is just «Thank you», «Sorry», «Please», or «Do you speak in English?», they will help you with a pleasure.
On arrival in Ukraine, ask at the hotel administrator to give you a card with the name and address of the hotel. This will help you in communicating with taxi drivers or people in the street.
There is an eight-hour working day in Ukraine. That’s why most institutions operate from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday till Friday with a lunch break whether from 12 p.m. to 1 a.m. or from 1 a.m. to 2 p.m. Though banks are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., visitors can come there till 3 p.m. or till 4 p.m. However, there are many supermarkets in Kiev that operate 24 hour. On the plus side, a considerable part of restaurants and cafes close late at night, meanwhile night clubs work all night long.
To make sure the water in tap is clean and safe to use, it is purified with chemicals. That is why, it is not advisable to drink it without boiling. However, you can always buy clean water in large bottles in any supermarket. Around the city you may notice pump rooms with drinking water. However, to make yourself assured it is not also advisable to use this water unboiled. Meanwhile, the supply of hot and cold water is stable all the year round in the Ukrainian capital. Still many hotels use electric boilers to ensure their guests with comfort.
Cigarettes and alcohol
As for cigarettes and alcohol, there is a familiar for Western countries system of legal principles operating in Ukraine. There is a legal prohibition for smoking and drinking alcoholic beverages in public places. It is prohibited to smoke in restaurants in non-smoking areas. Also, there is a prohibition to buy cigarettes and alcohol for those who under 18 years old. It is illegal to drive being in alcohol intoxication. It is also better not to buy alcohol and cigarettes in the street from private persons.
Before coming to Ukraine it is advisable to learn some basic rules of etiquette and mentality features of the Ukrainians.
When Ukrainians are going to visit somebody, they usually think of a present. It should be something nominal and not expensive. A bottle of wine and chocolate box will be enough to maintain a tradition. If you present a bouquet of flowers, remember that the number of flowers must be odd. At home Ukrainians do not wear shoes, so be ready to leave you footwear in the entrance hall. It is very likely that you’ll be offered a pair of slippers.
If you’re going to visit some places working at night in the Ukrainian capital, be ready to be checked by security at the entrance.
Ukrainians are known to be superstitious. Partly, it is true. For example, handling something or shaking hands over the threshold of a house is considered to be a bad sign as well as black cat crossing a street and whistling or opening an umbrella at home. Anyway, it’s up to you whether to take it seriously or not.
Also, mind that before entering a church men take off their hats while women enter with covered head. Still, as a rule tourists freely enter churches without sticking to these rules.
As you see, all in all there is not much difference between Ukrainians and other nationalities maybe except for superstitions.