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Country Description: Ukraine is a newly independent nation undergoing profound political and economic change, still in the process of stabilizing its relations with neighboring countries. Tourist facilities are not highly developed, and many of the goods and services taken for granted in other countries are not yet available. Travel within Ukraine is unrestricted. Though fuel shortages are generally no longer a problem, internal travel can be difficult and flight and train schedules can be irregular.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: A passport and visa are required. Visas can be obtained in advance from the Embassy of Ukraine, located at 3350 M Street, NW, Washington D.C. 20007, tel. (202) 333-0606 or 333-7507, or Ukrainian consulates in Chicago and New York. A letter of invitation from a person, company, or organization in Ukraine or a tour company voucher is currently required to obtain a visa. Travelers are no longer able to secure visas at any border crossing point or at airports.

Note: Travelers who intend to visit Russia from Ukraine must have a Russian visa. The Russian Embassy in Ukraine is located at Prospekt Kutuzova 8, Kiev, tel: (7)(044) 294-6701.

Ukraine Registration: All foreigners visiting Ukraine, except those staying less than three working days and minors (under 18), are required to register their passports with local law enforcement authorities. Visitors who do not register may experience delays when leaving Ukraine, or difficulty when trying to extend visas. The registration requirement is automatically met when foreigners stay in hotels, when resident business persons register their companies, or when students register under established exchange programs. Private visitors must have their hosts, relatives or landlords register their U.S. passport at the local Section of Visas and Registration Office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (known by the acronym "VVIR" in Ukrainian and "OVIR" in Russian). A fee is usually charged for visa extensions or passport registration.

Medical Facilities: Medical care in Ukraine is limited. The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of English speaking physicians and a list of pharmacies that offer American and Western European supplies and medicines. The availability of basic medical supplies, including disposable needles, anesthetics, and antibiotics has improved. Elderly travelers and those with existing health problems may be at risk due to inadequate medical facilities. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. Travelers have found that in some cases, supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage, including air evacuation coverage, has proved to be useful. Further information on health matters can be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline, tel: (404) 332-4559.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Inflation, unemployment, and the breakdown of the country's social fabric have contributed to an ever increasing and violent crime rate. Westerners and their residences are increasingly viewed by criminals as choice targets. The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The Department of State's pamphlet "A Safe Trip Abroad" provides useful information on guarding valuables and protecting personal security while traveling abroad. Additional information on the region can be found in the brochure "Tips for Travelers to Russia and the Newly Independent States". Both publications are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington D.C. 20402.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: Roads in Ukraine are in generally poor condition. Travel between cities at night and in the winter can be particularly treacherous. Gasoline and diesel fuel supplies may be difficult to find in outlying areas. Carjackings of Western-made or foreign- registered cars is on the rise. There has been an increase in the number of documented reports of criminal acts occurring on trains, including gassings and robberies.

Aviation Oversight: In March 1993, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration assessed Ukraine's civil aviation authority as in compliance with international aviation safety oversight standards for Ukraine carriers operating to and from the U.S. The same level of safety oversight would typically be applied to operations to other destinations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation at 1-800-322-7873.

Currency Regulations: Ukraine is a cash economy. Traveler's checks and credit cards are gaining wider acceptance in larger cities. Use of credit cards is limited to the better hotels, Western-style restaurants, international airlines and select stores. Customs regulations prohibit sending cash, traveler's checks, personal checks, credit cards or passports through the international mail system to Ukraine. These items are regularly confiscated as contraband by customs authorities. Changing U.S. dollars for Ukrainian coupons or another currency is legal only at banks, currency exchange desks at hotels and at licensed exchange booths.

Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

Registration and Embassy Location: Americans may register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy and obtain updated information on travel and security within Ukraine. The U.S. Embassy in Kiev is located at Vulitsa Yuria Kotsubinskoho 10, telephone (380-44) 244-7349. The Embassy's 24-hour emergency number (answered only in English after working hours) is (380- 44) 216-3805.

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