Safety and security
Pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for information about possible safety or security risks. You should avoid demonstrations and public gatherings, as even peaceful protests may turn violent.
Most visitors to Ukraine experience no difficulties. Serious crime against foreigners is relatively rare, but incidents do occur. In some cases attacks have been racially motivated. Travellers of Asian or Afro-Caribbean descent and individuals belonging to religious minorities should take extra care.
You should report any incidents to the police by dialling 102. A list of local translators is available on the British Embassy website.
Be alert to the possibility of street crime and petty theft, which is on the increase in Kyiv. Foreigners may appear to be lucrative targets. Where possible, avoid walking alone late at night in dark or poorly lit streets. Keep valuables and cash safe and out of sight, especially in crowded areas, tourist spots, and public transport, where pickpockets and bag snatchers operate.
A common scam is to drop a wallet or bundle of money in front of a tourist. The criminal then “finds” the money and asks if it is the tourist’s or offers to share the money with them. If you are approached in this way, you should walk away without engaging in conversation.
Don’t lose sight of your credit cards during transactions.
Theft of and from vehicles is common. Don’t leave documents or money in your vehicle. Unregulated taxi drivers can overcharge. Use official taxis, which have the name and telephone number of the taxi company on the side of the door and on the top of the taxi.
Do not leave drinks or food unattended as they could be spiked. Beware of accepting drinks from casual acquaintances.
Exercise caution when travelling to Ukraine for a relationship initiated via the internet. There have been incidents of marriage fraud and attempted extortion affecting foreign nationals. You should be particularly vigilant if the person is uncontactable face-to-face or they ask you to send money urgently (for example, they may say that they’ve been arrested or have fallen ill). Unfortunately it’s very unlikely you’ll be able to recover your money if you’re a victim of such a scam.
Bus, trolleybus and tram tickets normally need to be validated by being ‘punched’ when you board. You can be fined on the spot if you are travelling with a ticket that has not been validated.
There is a wide network of minibuses. The fare is normally displayed on the window inside the minibus. You may need to pass your money to the driver via other passengers.
There is no metro connection to Kyiv city centre from Boryspil International Airport. The most convenient way to reach the city centre is by taxi. Alternatively you can take the ‘Sky Bus’ from the airport to the city centre (via Kharkivska metro station to the main railway station “Pivdenny”). You can buy a ticket from the driver.
Use official taxis which display the name and telephone number of the taxi company. Where possible ask your hotel to get a taxi for you or ask for the telephone number of a reputable taxi company. You should agree the fare before getting into the taxi.
A number of local companies offer tours to Chernobyl. Some areas around the reactor are covered by an exclusion zone, and you may need to get a permit and travel with a guide. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, although some of the radioactive isotopes released into the atmosphere still linger, they are at tolerable exposure levels for limited periods of time. The State Agency for Managing the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone has issued safety instructions and advice for people visiting the zone.
You must have a valid International Driving Permit to drive legally in Ukraine, as well as your UK driving licence. Make sure you have original vehicle-registration papers, ownership documents and insurance papers available at all times. These will be required if you are stopped by the police and when crossing borders. This also applies to rental vehicles. If you do not have these papers when stopped by the police they have the right to impound your vehicle and charge you for this.
Local driving standards are poor. Street lights are weak, speed limits, traffic lights and road signs are often ignored, and drivers rarely indicate before manoeuvring. There are a high number of traffic accidents, including fatalities. Speeding, drunk driving and infrequent use of helmets, seat belts and child restraints in vehicles are the main contributing factors.
Roads are of variable quality. Driving outside major towns at night can be hazardous. Avoid night-time travel wherever possible.
You must wear a seat belt. Using a mobile phone while driving is prohibited. There is a zero-tolerance policy on drink driving.
There have been reports of traffic police stopping vehicles and levying on-the-spot fines for minor traffic violations. Ukrainian law allows the police to stop a vehicle. The police officer should give their name and rank, explain why you have been stopped and make an administrative offence report. Fines have to be paid at a bank within 15 days.
In case of a road accident dial 102. Ukrainian officials generally only speak Ukrainian.
For information regarding bringing your car to Ukraine, see Entry requirements.
If you travel by train, make sure your belongings are secure.
Don’t agree to look after the luggage of a fellow traveller or allow it to be stored in your compartment
Train timetables and ticket reservation is available online on the Ukrainian Railways site.
You can find a list of recent incidents and accidents on the website of the Aviation Safety network.
The FCO can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes lists of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices – IATA Operational Safety Audit and IATA Standard Safety Assessment. These lists aren’t exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s unsafe.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation has carried out an audit of the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Ukraine.
Air Urga has been refused permission to operate services to the EU due to safety deficiencies. You can find a full list of airlines banned from operating within the EU on the European Commission website. Refusal of permission to operate is often based on inspections of aircraft at EU airports. The fact that an airline isn’t included in the list doesn’t automatically mean that it meets the applicable safety standards.
Direct flights between Ukraine and Russia ceased on 25 October 2015 and on 25 November 2015 Ukraine banned all Russian airlines from transiting its airspace. Check latest developments with your airline or travel company before you travel.