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FAQ on visa-free travels

Starting June 11, 2017, Ukrainian citizens have the right of visa-free travels to the EU. For those willing to enjoy the benefits of the new introduction, we prepared this FAQ section on border crossing, visa-free travels for kids, invitations and hotel reservations.

Which countries are free to travel to?
From now on, 30 countries, members of the European Union - provide visa-free entrance for Ukrainian citizens, except Great Britain and Northern Ireland, also four non-member countries of the Schengen zone: Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein. As the agreement was signed with the EU, not with Schengen countries, Ukrainians may freely travel also to Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia and Cyprus.

Kids, passports, fingerprints
Regular passports are no longer issued in Ukraine, with the introduction of the new biometric standard. For children aged below 12, fingerprints are not included to the database, as fingerprints are considered changeable due to age-related processes. The fact is you don't have to worry at all, as such passports are still biometric! Note, that starting next spring, children will no longer be able to travel while just being inscribed to their parents' passports, even to neighboring countries e.g. Moldova and Belarus.

Parental notarized agreements
Another big nuance is now children are only allowed to leave the country with BOTH parents. If a kid travels abroad with just one of  them, a notarized agreement from the other is necessary to provide, and this requirement is here to stay.

How to tell if my passport is biometric or regular?
Look for a specific mark on the cover of the passport. If yours has one, that's it, you may travel visa-free.

No fingerprints
The main feature of a biometric passport is a chip, not fingertips. There are plenty of situations when it is physically impossible to collect fingertips for a database(e.g. hand traumas or disabilities of a person).

Visas and biometric passports
If you apply for a visa with your biometric passport, the application will be rejected. An official decision has been issued by EU authorities: all embassies now should refuse to accept biometric passports from those, why apply for Schengen visas.

Visas and regular passports
For those who doesn't want to change their passports, situation is quite the contrary. Valid visas remain valid and when they expire - you are free to again apply for Schengen visa. The thing is biometrical passport is much more easier and cheaper to obtain, compared to new visas.

Solvency checks
There's no need to take cash with you, as credit card will be the main proof of your solvency. It is clear that a card should have either positive pay balance or valid credit limit. Solvency checks happen not quite as often, but if border guards insist, balance check from the nearest ATM, balance status SMS from your bank or login to the banking profile from a gadget will solve the problem. Situation is slightly more complex with phone banking service due to language barrier, but still this option is viable. Certificates from your job, cash flow statements and/or other documents one must collect for visa applications in Consulates won't work here though.

The purpose of your visit
You should name the purpose of your visit at the gate, usually just name it and that's it. When you travel with "blank" passport however, almost guaranteed that you will be asked to clarify. You may show your hotel booking info, though now hotel reservation is not mandatory. Either you plan to visit relatives or stay in a camping - this is legit. If the trip is short, showing your return tickets is usually enough.

Invitations from relatives and friends
You should have information about your friends and relatives: full names, addresses, phone numbers. Consider giving them the approximate time you are planning to cross the border, in case if officers decide to contact them - they should be available on the phone. Another option is to show a confirmation from your relatives or friends, which they may e-mail to you in advance.

The only case when border guards ask for a notarized invitation is when those, who invite you, - are the guarantors of your solvency in the EU, moreover, you don't have your own solvency proofs and you don't speak English or other local language. Notarized invitation and return tickets usually spare the travelling person of any further need to clarify and explain.

Insurance policy
Though back in the day of visa regime insurance was necessary, now it's not. You can't be denied to pass through, based on your lack of insurance, as there's no related limitations in the Border Guard Codes of the EU.

You should consider to ensure your life and health before the trip however, as short-term insurance programs are cheap and healthcare in the EU is not.

Visa-free travels basic rules
Ukrainians are allowed to stay in the EU for 90 days per one 180-day period. During your visa-free trips, you are not entitled to getting any paid job on the territory of the Union. In order to get a job, you still need a visa.

In the preparation of this FAQ, materials of the "Evropeyska Pravda" portal were used.