WTO Membership Means New Rules for Visitors

Following a fifteen year battle to increase economic growth, improve living standards and establish a European Union free-trade area in an effort to be approved as a World Trade Organization member country, Ukraine has reached its goal. World Trade Organization members meeting in Geneva in February approved the accession agreement which required that Ukraine ratify the accord by the latest 4 July, and having done so, the country would become a WTO member thirty days later. Ukraine lost no time in fulfilling their obligations, and became a fully-fledged WTO member on 16 May 2008.

There are many benefits to being a World Trade Organization member, as the organization sets global rules to facilitate the free-flow of commerce and trade between member countries, as well as acting as an arbitrator in reaching mutually beneficial conclusions in the event of a trade dispute. Ukrainian President, Viktor Yushchenko, expressed his confidence that Ukraine will successfully handle the task of implementing any changes needed to meet WTO regulations. Some of the changes that are being put into place since inclusion into the WTO, have a direct bearing on tourism, with the two major adjustments relating to visas and foreign currency restrictions.

Non-residents who enter the country on a visa may stay for a period not longer than 90 continuous days from the date of their passport control stamp. Individuals entering Ukraine by means of the simplified or visa-free arrangement may stay for a period of 90 cumulative days within any 180 day period. Citizens of WTO member countries may stay in Ukraine for a period of 180 cumulative days during a one year period. Those who plan to stay beyond these periods may register with the Department of Citizenship, Immigration and Registration to do so. Should travelers stay longer than their stipulated days without registration, they would face a fine. It is recommended to register at least three days prior to passport entry stamp expiration.

With regard to currency regulations, individuals do not need a written customs declaration to bring into or take out of Ukraine the equivalent of 10,000 Euro. Should the amount be in excess of 10,000 Euro, a compulsory written customs declaration is necessary for the entire amount. However, if the funds brought into the country are for performing banking operations, a customs declaration is compulsory regardless of the amount.

No doubt, as with any significant changes in any organization, there are sure to be some “teething problems”. But with proper planning, your visit to the fascinating country of Ukraine is sure to be filled with memory-making moments.