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Bringing a Car into Ukraine

One of the questions which our clients encounter very often is the process of temporarily bringing their vehicles to Ukraine. This article is meant to give you a better understanding of the process and hopefully clear any confusion cause by a lot of inaccurate information and opinions which can be found online.

Laws and Regulations

First of all you have to understand that there are three governmental agencies involved in this process. First one is immigration, second is customs and third is motor vehicle administration.

The immigration laws, currently in place allow for most foreigners to come to Ukraine and stay visa-free for 90 out of 180 days. If you are planning to stay here longer than 90 days, than you have to obtain a temporary residence permit, which is granted upon temporary employment studying etc.

The customs law states that any foreigner can bring a motor vehicle which is permanently registered in a different country into Ukraine for a period of time up-to one year. There are no import duties or VAT to be assessed for that vehicle, as the vehicle has to leave the territory of Ukraine within the year allowed by the customs legislation. The only stipulation on this law is that this temporarily imported vehicle has to be operated with the presence of the person who has brought it into the country (so the person who has driven it across the border has to be driving behind the wheel or sitting as a passenger in the vehicle)

The motor vehicle administration states that a foreign vehicle which is being temporarily used in Ukraine can do so for the time of up-to two months on the foreign plates, but after that period it has to be registered with Ukrainian motor vehicle administration. At the time of registration with local authorities, you temporarily exchange your foreign plates for a newly issued Ukrainian plates, and your foreign vehicle technical passport / for a local Ukrainian technical passport. Furthermore you will be required to obtain a local insurance policy in order to be insured under the local law.

Application

So essentially what can be derived from these law is the following:

Any foreigner entering Ukraine legally is entitled to bring a vehicle on a temporary basis into the country for a time of up-to one year. After the initial two months that vehicle needs to be registered with a motor vehicle administration and receive local Ukrainian plates. Upon expiration of the one year that vehicle needs to be brought across the border and then the procedure repeated if needed.

If you don’t have a temporary residence permit, than in order to abide with the immigration law you have to follow 90/180 days laws, however you don’t have to take your vehicle with you each time you cross the border, and can keep it in Ukraine up to a year from the initial entry.

Costs

The only official costs involved in bringing a foreign vehicle into Ukraine on the temporary basis is the cost of registering the vehicle with motor vehicle administration, the plate fee and the cost of local insurance policy to insure the car. These costs are very reasonable and you should expect to pay somewhere in the ballpark of $300-$400 to the motor vehicle administration depending on the size of your vehicles engine.

As far as the insurance costs go, it depends on the coverage which you select, the value of your vehicle and the deductibles which you select.

Practical advice

While in theory the legislation provides for a transparent procedure related to bringing a foreign registered vehicle into Ukraine, in reality the bureaucrats at customs and at motor vehicle administration can make the process painful and burdensome through typical red tape that surrounds any sort of permits / registration in Ukraine. As a result there are some intermediaries that provide you with the secondary service of all of the procedures described above in order to speed up the process and make it more worry free.

Another approach which many expats use, is to ignore the regulations and simply not register the vehicle upon the expiration of the first two months. The only risks involved in that, is to get stopped by the traffic cops, at which point in a rare instance that an officer can speak English and knows the actual laws you might have to pay a 200 gryvnah ($25) bribe.  

Buying a car locally

An alternative to bringing your car to Ukraine, is to simply purchase a vehicle locally, use it for the period of time which you spend here, and then simply sell it at some point later in time. Local automotive prices are very high in relation to Europe / North America, but the resale values are also very high, and generally cars hold their value better then their counterparts overseas on in Europe.  So when you know your planning horizon (the term for which you will be in Ukraine) you can analyze the car prices/resale value on the following website:

www.auto.ria.ua

There you can get an idea in regards to how much vehicles cost and find out their resale value by comparing it to the same models but manufactured by n-amount of years earlier. 

For example you know you are coming to Ukraine for three years. You are thinking of buying a 2011 Toyota Camry (average local retail of $30’000). Then you look at average of retail prices for 2008 Toyota Camry with the same options and find out that the average retail price is $24000. That means that generally the vehicle has depreciated by $6000. When you factor in identical situation with the car which you would bring for abroad, and account for time, effort and indirect costs involved and depreciation, it might just be worthwhile buying a car locally.