We approach the last point of control before entering Ukraine. We hold our breaths as we hand our documents to a soldier. We wait for him to smile and wish us a nice stay… But he doesn’t. His face gets serious, he gives us a suspicious look.
– You can’t go. You miss one stamp.
– But… what?
Yes, we missed one stamp indeed.
Ukraine is an attractive touristic destination due to its beauty and low prices. However, going there makes travelers ask a lot of questions (check this extensive list of Ukraine travel FAQ!). Some of them are about border crossing. Let me tell you one thing. It is not the most pleasant part of the trip. Schengen zone spoiled me a lot and I’m no longer used to border procedures.
What happens step by step while crossing Polish-Ukrainian border?
Polish-Ukrainian border crossing in Korczowa by car – step by step
Make sure you have all documents required for residents of your country to enter Ukraine. For Polish requirements check Polish version of this post
Polish-Ukrainian border crossing: How long does it take?
There are no rules. You can check an estimated time and see camera views on granica.gov but it’s only an estimation and is differs from reality.
In my case on my way to Ukraine I spent only 30 minutes on the border while on the way back it took 3,5 hours. I heard stories about people spending over 6 hours there.
Polish-Ukrainian border crossing – step by step
When you get close to the border you choose one of two lanes: the one on your left is for European Union citizens and the right one for all other passports. Don’t get confused by a lot of cars on Polish plates in the right queue. I guess these are Ukrainians working in Poland and driving Polish cars.
If they were Poles, they lost a lot of time… 🙂 The lane for EU citizens was empty while the other one was jammed.
When you reach the border itself, a border guard will check your trunk. He wasn’t very thorough on Polish side. He will check your documents and take them to his office. If everything is fine he will come back in a few minutes and you’ll be allowed to leave Poland.
After leaving Poland you will see a soldier. He will note your plate numbers and check the number of people in your car. Then he will give you a Crucial Piece Of Paper. Don’t lose it, for the next half an hour you’ll collect stamps on it and your “to be or not to be in Ukraine” depends on it.
The next stage is another trunk control. Ukrainian guard might be more careful, he asked us to open our gloveboxes and checked the inside of the car. After the control he will give you the first stamp on your paper.
Then you have two controls (and stamps) left. Don’t go there too early, before your car reaches the place. A lot of people do it but then the guards check documents in the order of cars in queue anyway.
The first stage is passport control (ПАСПОРТНИЙ КОНТРОЛЬ). Prepare your documents and the paper. The guard will compare you with your passport picture.
They can ask you where are you going, why, for how long. Not necessary in any language you understand 😉 The guard will take the documents and if everything goes well he will give them back with another stamp on your paper.
The only thing you have left now is customs control (МИТНИЙ КОНТРОЛЬ) in the next window. We thought both windows are for the same control, it’s enough to do one and we drove away… that’s where the story at the beginning comes from, they didn’t initially let us enter. Don’t do that 🙂
Go to the second window with all the documents. Customs official may ask if you have anything forbidden in your car ( 🙂 ) or if your car crosses Ukrainian border for the first time. He will take the documents and again if everything is ok you will get them back with the last required stamp on your paper.
You can go now! There’s one more soldier on your way who will check your Crucial Piece Of Paper, take it and let you enter Ukraine. Success! 🙂
From Ukraine to Poland – border crossing
The procedures are the same on the way back. There’s no division on EU citizens and other passports on Ukrainian side so everybody is stuck in the same (long) queue. You will get the paper again, your trunk will be checked, you need to pass passport and customs control and collect stamps.
On Polish side the same story again – trunk, they’ll take your documents and give them back after the control.
The only difference is that after Polish passport control you still need to go to separate customs control. The official will check the documents again, he asked us where we were and for how long, how much fuel is in our car, if it uses LPG and how much of it do we have. Wished us a safe trip… and off we went after 3,5h 🙂
Border control is annoying and inconvenient. But if you prepare your mind for it and you wait patiently – you will have an opportunity to visit a new, fascinating country 🙂 It wasn’t that bad after all!
Have fun in Ukraine! And check how to experience Lviv at its finest 🙂
If you still need to find accomodation in Ukraine, you can use the below booking.com searchbox. It changes nothing for you – but it does change the world for me! You will pay the same anyway but instead of giving it all to booking.com team, a little chunk of it will go to me for the hard work and time I spend developing this place for you! Thanks! 🙂
Anyways, safe travels!
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