Tourist visa is required for short-term visits to Ukraine (no more than 25 days). It is important that you should have a tourist itinerary provided by a Ukrainian tour company (or by a Ukrainian partner of your local travel company – See tourist invitation section for further info).
Step 1 – determine whether you need a visa.
Nationals of some countries may visit Ukraine for tourism purposes without a visa. Check visa policy of Ukraine for more information.
Step 2 – Locating the embassy/consulate.
You should find out the location of the nearest Ukrainian consular institution. Make sure that the consular boundaries of such consulate cover your country, and remember, that if there is no consulate or embassy in your country, your documents will be accepted in one of the neighboring embassies (remember to check the consular boundaries!).
Step 3 – Scheduling visa interview.
Once you have found the embassy/consulate, use its website to schedule an interview. It is also possible to call the embassy/consulate and ask for a visa interview by phone, or arrive personally. Do not forget to mention your citizenship to double-check the consular district of your boundaries. For example, Ukrainian Embassy in Kenya will accept visa applications from the citizens of Tanzania but will reject applications of the Namibian citizens, who should apply to the Embassy of Ukraine in South Africa.
Step 4 – Preparing the visa documents.
Once the interview is scheduled, it is now the right time to start preparing the documents. Though we have done our best to make this list as comprehensive as possible, nevertheless, we highly recommend you to visit the embassy website and check updates. Some embassies of Ukraine may have particular requirements, which should be taken into account.
Documents, indicating the purpose of a journey (“tourist invitation”)
These documents (4-5 pieces) also known as “tourist invitation,” should be provided to you by the Ukrainian travel company, which is responsible for organization of your tour. The documents are usually in Ukrainian, and there is no need translating them into English. These documents are especially important – you cannot prepare them by yourself, they should be drafted and sent by the licensed Ukrainian tour operator only.
We have described the tourist invitation documents package in this article.
Documents in relation to accommodation or proof of sufficient means to cover your accommodation
It is prescribed in the law that you should provide verifiable proofs of accommodation in Ukraine for the entire duration of your stay there. If the embassy/consulate issued a 20-day visa, you become responsible for proving that you have a place to stay in. Usually, it is a tour company, which is responsible for providing hotel booking vouchers and a guarantee letter, confirming that the booking is done properly.
If the tour company does not provide such booking voucher (or other proof of accommodation), it is you, who become responsible for obtaining such proofs. A good strategy in this regard is to find suitable hotels in the web and make reservations with them directly. Do not forget printing the booking voucher, and make a copy with notarized translation for submission to the embassy/consulate (not required if accommodation voucher is provided by the tour operator together with the other “tourist invitation” documents). Also, keep the usual copy of this voucher when entering Ukraine.
The accommodation booking voucher should be a real one – embassy staff, as well as the border officers, may call the hotel to verify the validity of your booking.
The tourists often neglect the importance of this step. Failure to collect proper and legitimate “tourist invitation” documents may lead to visa application rejection or denial of entry to Ukraine on the border.
Documents indicating that you possess sufficient means of subsistence both for the duration of the intended stay and for the return to your country of origin or residence
The purpose of these documents is to show that you have enough money to support your stay in Ukraine. The law of Ukraine uses USD 100 per day as criteria in this regard. For calculating the amount, which is sufficient for staying in Ukraine, the following formula is applied:
(USD 100 or equivalent in EURO x the number of days in Ukraine) + USD 500 for emergencies
Thus, if your intended stay in Ukraine is 8 days, you should have (USD 100×8) + USD 500 = USD 1300
The following proofs may be used for confirming that you are in possession of enough funds for visiting Ukraine:
- Cash in Ukrainian hryvnia or other freely convertible currency. We recommend taking USD or EUR;
- A valid document from the bank, confirming that you have an account with this bank and a statement of personal account balance with the required amount of funds. Such a statement should be in English or translated into Ukrainian;
- International pay system cards (VISA/MasterCard/American Express/Maestro) along with a statement of personal account balance confirming the funds (in English or translated into Ukrainian).
You should remember that not only such information is submitted to the embassy/consulate, but also the border officers may ask you to present such information when at the Ukraine entry check-point. Do not forget making a copy of all documents (in English or translated into Ukraine).
Information which enables to assess your intention to leave Ukraine before the expiry of the visa
Because the number of illegal immigrants in Ukraine is rising every year, all Ukrainian embassies and border officers are legally required to assess whether each entrant is going to leave Ukraine when his/her visa expires. Proving that you will return upon expiration of your visa, two critical issues should be taken into consideration.
Firstly, you should be in possession of a return ticket. The date of such ticket should not be later than the expiry date of your visa. The embassy/consulate always checks your return ticket, and sometimes it may be checked by the border guards. Make sure that you always have a printed return ticket with you.
Secondly, although the embassy/consulate staff often say that the interview is of secondary importance, in fact, the way you answer their questions may be crucial. During the interview, the embassy staff should be 100% sure that you will return to your country.
They will be specifically interested in:
- Your family status (do not forget taking marriage certificates and birth certificates of your kids with you);
- Your employment status. For this purpose we recommend taking a certificate, issued by your employer, confirming that you have a contract. If you are a business owner, taking the certificate of incorporation of your company will be useful. For students, a student ID and a letter of confirmation (saying that you are indeed studying in a university) will be very helpful.
Do not underestimate the importance of this step. Even though you may have much money, Ukrainian embassy/consulate and the border guards should be presented with unquestionable proofs of your intention to return to your home country.
A valid travel document and its photocopy, which is issued within previous 10 years, contains at least two blank pages for visas and is valid at least 3 months after the expiration date of the visa
While in some countries a special passport (known as “foreign passport,” “foreign travel document” or “international travel passport” – there are many denominations) is required for leaving the country, in the others national passport is used for that purpose. In any case, your travel document should correspond to the requirements stated above.
Do not forget making a photocopy of your passport and having it stamped and signed by the embassy official, or if this service is not available in the Ukrainian embassy/consulate of your country – by a public notary. Always keep such copy with you during your voyage to Ukraine – in the event your original passport is lost/stolen/destroyed, the copy will make the process of returning home much simpler.
A filled in and signed application form
You may download a visa application form on the website of a Ukrainian embassy/consulate. The form is to be completed in English. We recommend filling them in a Word processor and then to print it.
Make sure to have a blank copy of the application form with you to be able to complete it anew if the embassy/consulate finds any inaccuracies in it.
If your travel document covers your family members, an individual application form should be filled in for each family member. Application forms of the minors should be signed by the parents or the legal guardians.
Visa processing fee receipt
Ukrainian embassies/consulates levy a fee for processing your visa application, which vary from USD 30 to USD 130 (depending on your citizenship and the type of visa – multiple entry visas cost more). Banking details for making payment should be clarified in the embassy/consulate. Usually, it is possible to pay by cash there as well.
Please note that visa processing fee is non-refundable. It means that if your visa application is denied, no refund will be made.
Two colored passport-size photos
Together with other documents you should also provide two colored passport sized photos. Your face should be 80% of the photo, no smiling. Make sure to call or visit the embassy clarifying the photo requirements. The requirements are also sometimes published on the embassy website.
Insurance policy and its photocopy valid for the period of stay in Ukraine
Often the insurance is provided with the other “tourist invitation” documents by a tour operator in Ukraine, which is responsible for arranging your tour in Ukraine. However, if it is not provided, it is your responsibility to purchase such insurance. It is often possible to buy it straight in the embassy or somewhere nearby.
Overall, though the number of documents is quite significant, you should not be intimidated. The majority of such documents will be provided by the Ukrainian tour companies, while getting the rest is usually not problematic.
We highly recommend you to make the copies of all documents you get on the way to your visa and keeping them with you. It will help you to avoid problems at the entry point to Ukraine.
Step 5 – Interview in the embassy/consulate.
You should demonstrate a complete understanding of your motives to visit Ukraine during the interview in the embassy/consulate.
Because you are going to get a tourist visa you should be able to explain the following:
- Which cities are you going to visit and why you want to visit them as a tourist?
- What is your tour itinerary?
- What are the name of your tour company and the name of the company manager?
- Why did you decide to visit Ukraine as a tourist and what natural and cultural attractions you like most and why?
- In other words, it is crucial demonstrating that the purpose of your visit is indeed a tourist one.
Remember, that if you are going to visit your friends and relatives in Ukraine, or attend to other, non-tourist affairs, you should not talk about them. Otherwise, the embassy/consular staff will decide that in fact, you need a private or a business visa, and your tourist visa application will be certainly rejected.
Application processing time
Typically, visa application processing time varies between 2 and 6 weeks. It depends on the embassy/consulate workload. However, there is a possibility of paying double visa processing fee to make the process faster.
Visa decision of the embassy/consulate
Once your visa application is processed, the embassy will make a decision, which may be:
- Visa application approval – in this case, a special visa sticker will be pasted into your travel document;
- Visa application rejection – in this case, the embassy will issue a written statement, explaining why your visa application has been rejected.
Step 6 – crossing Ukrainian border
Although a visa sticker is a proof that your tourist visit has been approved, the border guards of Ukraine are allowed to double-check your motives. They are permitted to deny entry to Ukraine if they have any suspicions that your real motives of visiting Ukraine are not the tourism-related ones.
Our practice shows that the border guards of Ukraine may ask you to demonstrate:
- Tourist voucher;
- Accommodation proofs;
- Proof that you have enough funds to stay in Ukraine;
- Return ticket;
- In addition to that, the border guards may check whether a representative from a tour company is waiting for you in the “arrivals” zone.
The border guards may also be interested in the following information, and you should be able to provide comprehensive answers in English to the questions relating to:
- The purpose of your visit to Ukraine (remember, that you are a tourist, and the purpose of your visit is familiarization with the natural and cultural wonders of Ukraine);
- The name of your tour company, as well as the name of the manager, who is responsible for organizing your tour;
- Your tour itinerary. In other words, you should be able to explain what cities you are going to visit, and which attractions you are going to explore there;
- When you will leave the territory of Ukraine.
If some of the documents indicated above are missing at the moment of entering Ukraine, or you provided inconclusive answers to the questions of the Border Guard officers, the guards may deny entry to Ukraine, and you will have to leave Ukraine with the nearest plane (at your own cost). Your visa, however, will not be annulled.
Tourist visa summary
Overall, though much bureaucracy is involved, getting Ukrainian tourist visa is not impossible. It is the policy of the government of Ukraine that as many tourists as possible visit the country. Basically, to our best knowledge, there are no cases when the Border Guard denied entry or the embassy/consulate rejected a visa application without a valid reason. Just make sure to have the rights documents and do your best to answer the questions in a proper way.
Finally, always make sure that you are met by a representative of the tour company at the airport. It is still better to write an extra email than to be forcibly repatriated and have all your travel arrangements disrupted because of a small lapse.