Ukraine and Russian Borders-Latest Intel
Just rode from Germany to Moscow and thought I'd pass on my experiences at the Ukrainian and Russian borders. Nothing dramatic, but it is always good to get fresh data:
1) Ukraine: Passed into Ukraine from Romania, near Chergovsty. The border people could hardly have been friendlier. They spent a long time looking at the title from my bike (which I gave them because I don't have a registration) under an ultraviolet light (or something), maybe looking for a watermark or something. I didn't tell them that it was in fact a photocopy and ultimately they didn't have a problem with it. Since I was just passing through Ukraine, they proposed a transit visa, and they pushed me to pick an exit point. I told them I wasn't sure where I would exit, but probably near Glukhov, and they left it at that. Also, when I left the border, I did not see any insurance booths, so I did not buy any.
When leaving Ukraine near Glukhov, one fellow asked me for my Ukrainian insurance forms. I told them they were the bottom of my bag, and luckily he said not to bother, since I still didn't have any insurance. So a word to the wise--try to buy some insurance! Another guy asked me why they had not stamped an exit point in my passport, that I had violated my visa! I told them that I told them where I was exiting and it wasn't my problem that they had not entered it in my passport. After some bitching and moaning, he let it go. In retrospect, I think I should have asked for a tourist visa, which might not have the same restriction on exit points.
Each time, it took about 40 minutes to cross the Ukrainian border.
2) RUSSIA: Russia also went pretty smoothly, although I speak russian so could parley with the officials. the only snag was that I wanted my temporary entrance paperwork for my bike to last as long as my visa--a bit more than two months. They responded that they could only give three weeks and I would have to have it extended in Moscow. I told them that it would be very inconvenient to do this in Moscow, and they agreed to make it as long as my visa in return for 1000 rubles. Not sure what the rule is, but it was worth it to me. I tried to get them to grant the temporary import longer than my visa, but they said it wasn't possible and I didn't push the issue. This whole process took about an hour and a quarter.
Anyway, that's it, hopefully helpful to someone.
Noteworthy: there were police everywhere with functional radar guns. This was the only place on my recent 40k mile trip where I actually got nailed for speeding....although these police left me with a verbal warning after threatening various dire consequences for about an hour (during which time they extracted obvious cash payouts from several locals). They turned back all my hints that perhaps there might be another way to settle things, and even refused an offered chocolate bar as I got ready to go. Maybe they just wanted to talk...but they had me dead to rights, and had every right to issue me a ticket which I'd have to pay at a specific bank in a faraway town. I don't know whether it was an advantage or disadvantage that I speak neither Russian nor the closely-related Ukrainian.
With this density of handheld radar guns, I'd recommend particular caution when entering or leaving towns: the speed limit changes the instant you pass a sign identifying a town or village, with or without additional cautionary signage. Since there are a great many towns along the roads, this means not drifting off into riding reveries.
Hope that's helpful to someone, someday.
Although this information is nearly 12 months old, I too had problems when exiting Ukraine into Russia. I got my passport stamped at a border crossing entering from Poland and explained to a very grumpy official that I was heading for Russia and got the necessary stamp, no mention of the need for insurance at all. Got stopped by the Police for speeding about 20 miles past the border control and was finally let of with a warning, no mention of insurance here either, that was the only copper I had any dealings with for the rest of Ukraine.
The problems started when trying to leave. Because I had been broken down for a couple of days I ended up being in Ukraine for 5 days, the border guards at the exit point insisted that I only had a transit visa and this was only valid for 3 days. Apparently this was 'A big problem'
After about an hour of haggling it was suggested to me that ' Problem could go away if I made a "Present" to senior officer' I continued to plead me innocence and ignorance to the supposed 'Problem' and was finally allowed to leave the country when I got my phone out and started to call the Ukraine biker friend I had made while broken down, for some reason they didn't want to talk to him and let me on my way. It was frustrating but the moral, as already stated, is to get a tourist visa stamp not the standard transit stamp.
OK well I've just returned to Poland having been refused entry into Russia on the Ukranian border, we are travelling with two bikes in a trailer and a towcar, we have all documents but were told we cannot visit russia with this arrangement, I was half expecting difficulties to be overcome with presents but the opportunity did not seem to present itself and having passed through russian passport control my passport was returned with an annulled stamp across the passport controls stamp.
I took the border crossings near Chelm in Poland into the Ukraine and Kharkov as the attempted egress into Russia.
5 hours to cross into Ukraine from Poland
7.5 hours from trying to leave Ukraine to re-entering on the same transit visa after a lovely wait in no mans land
The western side I found the border guards helpful (ish) and the police whilst stopping us did not try and extract bribes
Getting near Kiev and onwards they were persistent like the mosquitoes, as soon as they clocked the foreign plates on the car they were waving to pull us over, this lengthened the journey massively as each time the tired game of checking everything and even going into the police station to be breathalysed where i was told I had a positive result (clearly a lie as was the policemans claim that the woman administrator in the station was a medical doctor) obviously the game is dollars, we didnt have any and frankly the ukrainian police should invent a word for it as it makes it easy to understand their intent when they talk amongst themselves.
On the return leg I took to simply ignoring them and driving through, If you get shot it's not my responsibility but I can say I passed maybe 8 checkpoints this way without being followed, The police seem lazy and corrupt
I didnt have insurance, one police officer asked for it near poland, I just gave him random bits of official paper until he got bored.
Not keen on the 2 days and 40 hours driving I did in the Ukraine, gonna go look at my finances and consider getting into russia through Latvia
hope this info helps someone and your border crossing is easier
Did you try another border post in Ukraine?
Why do you think you'll get in via Latvia if you didn't get in through Ukraine?
(not second-guessing, just trying to understand...)
I am trying to clarify the legality of entry and determine if my visas are still valid with the embassy now, once the position is clear we will either
A) Re-enter russia with just the bikes
B) Try again as before
The reason behind Latvian entry is simply due to the fact that we had a transit only visa in the Ukraine (3 days) this did not extend an opportunity for us to try any other border crossings, I should have got a tourist Visa. Sadly I am the only car driver in the party so by the time I had driven for 20 hours my decision making process wasnt all that great, and from my location now in poland the border is the same distance either way to the Russian border.
Meanwhile I am going to try and source a mobile telephone handset and get some telephone numbers of russian speakers, On getting back to the comfort of Poland from Ukraine I was very low, now I am rested and more determined than ever to fulfill this dream of travel in Russia and Mongolia
Currently a bit angry with myself for failing to acheive my goals, this is my first trip outside Europe and its a steep learning curve ;-)
Hope that makes some sort of sense, as I am a new recruit to overland travel I appreciate all and any comments/questions
thanks for the explanations, very helpful info. I'm sorry you've had such a horrendous time with borders!
You're not the only one sorry to have gotten a Ukrainian transit visa--me too, as well as others! Tourist visa is the way to go...
I speak Russian but am swamped with work right now and might not have much time to help, but let me know if you need something quick. I will PM you with my number.
Here is a link for a place that might have some answers for you, or be able to help, I think someone there speaks english:
Good for you for not giving up, sounds like you had a rough couple of days but it can only get better, right? Right?
FYI I tried to get a Russian visa to visit Sochi when I was in Odessa (Ukraine) at the end of last year. The Russian consulate sounded happy enough to process this until they realised I hold a British passport. Then, instead of it taking a day or two, it was going to take "a couple of weeks", and they wanted to know, in writing with supporting documents, not only where I was going to stay each night but what I planned to do throughout each day of my stay.
I had been in and out of Russia three times earlier on my trip, a year and more before, and to clarify it wasn't ME they didn't want to see, but my British passport.
I'm not a huge fan of Roosian bureaucracy/ politicians.
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