Posted by Victoria Wilbourn on March 27, 2000 at 13:58:18:
In Reply to: International Arrival Process posted by Dan on March 26, 2000 at 15:52:28:
The information is helpful and it is true.
It is big help for my husband. We are going to spend this summer in Kiev. I am from Kiev so I can tell that you describe everything very precisely and accurately.
: International Arrival Process:
: First -Kyiv (as of February 2000):
: 1 - Exit the airplane and head for the entry desks - along with the other passengers from your aircraft. Kyiv actually has passenger-ways that allow passengers to disembark the aircraft directly into the terminal - much as we have in Europe and the US. Most other airports in Ukraine use a shuttle verhicle to get you back and forth from the terminal and the airplane.
: 2 - As you enter the area where the lines begin, you should see a desk to your right and individual Passport Control agents, maybe 8 or 10 of them, checking passports to your left. Your first stop is the insurance desk which is the one you see on your right when you enter the large room.
: 3 - Tell the person at the insurance desk (usually a woman) how long you are staying in Ukraine. This will determine how much you will pay. I have never paid more than $7 and I have stayed as long as 3+ weeks. They only take US Dollars, so be sure to have some small bills to pay the fee. They will give you a yellow document that you must show the Passport Control agent at your next stop.
: 4 - Passport Control is directly across from the insurance desk. There will be lines for Ukrainian citizens and there will be lines for foreigners and they are marked in English. I don't recall how many of each, but it is a safe bet there will be fewer agents, hence longer lines, for foreigners. Obviously, you will need to find and join one of the lines for foreigners. I recall always passing through Passport Control in the lines to the right. One of the previous posters made a comment about standing behind a yellow line painted on the floor. This is true when you are the next in line to see the agent. It is also true that you will see this rule at every country in the world, including the US. It is not a problem. I think it is designed to prevent anarchy at the Passport Control agent's desk. Simply wait patiently behind the yellow line until the person in front of you has finished and then step forward.
: 5 - Passport Control is checking for 2 things. One - do you have a valid visa? If you have made it this far, the airlines have already checked that your visa is valid and it should be no problem. Two - they will ask for proof of insurance - the yellow document provided you at the insurance desk a few moments earlier. Assuming all is in order (it will be), they stamp your passport to show you have entered the country.
: 6 - Step forward to the baggage claim area. Since you have probably waited for a while by now - half an hour or more - your bags may already be on the carousel. If not, just wait and they should appear. If it takes too long, there is an Austrian Airlines agent that speaks excellent English that will be able to advise you as to what to do. Assuming no problems, retrieve your bags and put them onto a luggage cart - which you can easily find in the baggage area.
: 7 - Now move towards the Customs area. There are two distinct channels and they are marked. Just look for signs that are posted high on the wall. There is a Red Channel for those that have declarations to make and there is a Green Channel for those with nothing to declare. The rules are written in English and they are not difficult to interpret.
: 8 - BEFORE actually entering the Customs lines, you will need to retrieve the Customs declaration forms and complete them. The are directly across from the baggage carousel and next to Austrian Airlines baggage office. These forms are prepared in many languages - just look for the English version. Complete it according to the instructions. If the instructions appear obtuse - you can either ask the kind folks at the Austrian
: Airlines baggage office (you should be standing right in front of it), or fill it out as best you can and explain any confusion to the Customs agent upon introduction. They are usually pretty helpful. Frankly, it is best if you give the appearance of knowing what you are doing though, so I'd ask at Austrian Airlines if I had any questions.
: 9 - It is best to declare any valuables that you intend to take back out of the country (camera, jewelry, laptop computer, etc.). Also declare the cash you are bringing into the country. It is legal (though, perhaps not advisable) to bring up to $10,000 USD in cash and up to $50,000 USD (or equivalent other currency) in traveller's cheques into Ukraine. If you have more than a small amount of cash (I *think* it is $250 USD or equivalent), then you MUST include the cash on your declarations form. Next, stand in the line for the Red Channel and wait your turn. They may ask you a few questions - depending on the language skills of your particular agent. Just answer honestly and it should be a painless process.
: 9a - To be clear, there are 4 major steps. A) Insurance, B) Passport Control C) Baggage Claim and Declaration Form, and D) Customs. That's it.
: 10 - Now you begin the process to exit the airport. You will find a throng of people waiting to meet arriving passengers. It is nice if you have someone there to meet you. If not - be prepared for a barrage of 'taxi' drivers wanting to drive you to the city. Your best bet is to walk through all these 'taxi' drivers (briskly) and head out toward the right-hand side of the airport where you will find an exit. These guys are persistent, so just keep walking. Once outside (you'll still be getting propositioned from the drivers) - look directly across from the airport entrance - and a little to the right and about 100 yards away, you should see a legitimate taxi stand where they have cars that are clearly painted as taxis. This is where you are heading. Be sure to tell the taxi driver that you want him to use the meter. If it isn't working immediately - stop him and get another driver.
: Note - the airport is quite a distance from the city, so depending on where you are staying it can take as long as an hour to get you there. Don't be nervous if it takes a while to drive to your destination.
: OK - I think that should do it. It will get you out of the airport and into the excitement and chaos that is Kyiv.
: Next - Odesa (as of November 1998):
: 1 - Odesa uses a system to shuttle passengers from the airport to the terminal where you will first enter a 'bus' that will be waiting at the bottom of the steps when you get off the airplane and will unload all passengers in front of the entrance to the terminal building.
: 2 - Upon entrance into the hall, looking straight ahead, you will see 2 or 3 Passport Control Agents. Before you get to the Passport Control Agents, you need to buy insurance which is sold at a small kiosk which is very inconspicuously placed where you might have difficulty seeing it if you don't know it's there. It is to your immediate left when you enter the room and the window itself is facing the direction of the Passport Control agents, hence, you must enter, see Passport Control, then look BACK to see the insurance window. Buy your insurance (see Kyiv above - same deal in Odesa).
: 3 - Proceed to Passport Control. Since there are only 2 (maybe 3, but I seem to recall only 2) lines, it may be one is for foreigners and the other is for returning Ukrainians. Present your passport and insurance form and wait for the agent to stamp your passport. He/she may ask you why you are visiting Ukraine, but just answer honestly and it should be no problem.
: 4 - Next, proceed directly forward to the baggage claim area. I do not recall any carousels here. I believe I had quite a wait till the baggage handlers brought all the baggage into the terminal by hand and placed it in the hall for retrieval by the owners.
: 5 - Further, I recall no specific Customs area. Once you retrieve your bags, if Customs decides to check something, you will be summoned (or motioned) over to one of the desks that surround the baggage claim area and invited to answer a few questions and open your luggage (if they desire).
: 6 - Please note that there are recent reports of serious corruption among the Customs agents in Odesa. Apparently one of the ploys is to find inbound travellers that have declared both a significant amount of cash AND some items of value such as a camera or laptop computer. They will then challenge the traveller with a claim that the valuable items are dutiable and must be either left with Customs until departure (yeah - right!),
: or the duty paid then and there. Any attempts to force them to produce proof of their rights to assess fees and duties results in detention. This ploy usually results in the extraction of $100 or so - depending on what the agent thinks they can get away with. I know of no way to successfully counter this ploy - so, at least be forewarned!
: 7 - After Customs has finished with you --smile--, you exit through some doors that are clearly marked. If I recall correctly, the stations you move through between entering the terminal once the bus leaves you off - all the way though exiting past Customs is all one station after another and they are all straight ahead. No left or right turns that I recall.
: 8 - Once again, you will usually see quite a few people waiting for arriving passengers and you will be subject to taxi drivers wanting your business. My experiences in Odesa have led me to believe that the taxi drivers are not so dishonest as in Kyiv, so I usually take the first one that appears decent.
: Next - Lviv
: I have visited Lviv, but arrival was by train, hence, I do not know about the international airport arrival process. If anyone has specific step-by-step instructions, please post them and I will incorporate them into future posts.
: Since procedures in Ukraine constantly change, I am confident that what I have written will be different soon - if it is not already. Anyone travelling to these locations that sees any differences in what I have posted - or wishes to share more elaborate descriptions - please send me e-mail or post corrections. My e-mail address is => email@example.com.
: Domestic Plane Travel:
: I have only taken domestic Ukrainian airline travel one time. It was an adventure! I'll be happy to share my experience - it was from Kyiv to Donetsk, if anyone would wish.
: I have taken quite a few trains in Ukraine and would be happy to share my experiences with Ukrainian train travel as well. If there is enough interest, perhaps a 'step-by-step' of what to expect would be useful. Just let me know.
: Since domestic Ukrainian plane and train travel does not involve Customs interaction, I suspect it will be of far less interest than the international arrival process. Anyway, just let me know if anyone would like more information.
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