I would like to cross Poland-Ukrainian border by car owned by my friend, but friend does not go with me. I travel from Poland to Ukraine and get back 10 days later. What kind of documents should I prepare for this car when crossing the border into Ukraine/back into Poland?
Temporary Importing a Car in Ukraine
Regardless who owns the car, the documents required to cross into the Ukranian by car are the following:
- Compulsory personal documents: international passport, visa if needed
- Vehicle registration certificate
- International driving license
- “Green card” international insurance policy
Upon entry, the customs officer will consider the car a temporary import and will place a stamp on your passport reflecting this. There is no VAT nor custom duty to pay since it is not a permanent import into the country. At this point you have the right to drive in Ukraine using the foreign plate for a maximum of 2 months. After this grace period you will need to apply for a Ukrainian plate or face hefty fines.
Quoting from the linked website:
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.
In addition, do know that there are reported cases of corrupt police officers attempting to fine foreigners for driving with a foreign plate within two months of entering the country:
The local media describes the cases the cars with the foreign numbers were arrested due to their owners hadn't registered them within 10-days term upon crossing the Ukrainian border. The lawyers consider such attempt as illegal and advise to appeal.
The UK RAC specifies which gear must be carried when driving in Ukraine:
While driving in Ukraine you are required by law to carry the following items. Hefty on-the-spot fines can be issued for failing to carry specific items:
- Warning triangle: Compulsory in every vehicle with four wheels or more
- Headlamp beam deflectors: Depending on your car, you will either need deflector stickers or have to adjust the beam manually
- First aid kit and fire extinguisher
- Motorcyclists and their passengers must wear a helmet.
Wait, I'm Not the Owner of the Car
Now, driving a car owned by someone else does make things slightly more complicated. Indeed, how can officers distinguish between a stolen and a borrowed foreign car? My advice here is the following.
My Friend Lent Me their Car
You will need some sort of proof that what you are doing is legal.
- Draft a letter stating the details of the owner - name, surname, date of birth, residency, contact details, etc. - and the fact that they allow you to drive the car for a given period of time
- Attach identification documents of the car owner
- Ensure the owner signs the letter and that the signature is the same as that on their ID
- For added safety, have these documents authenticated by a public officer in your country, or even better draft all of them in front of a notary public.
I Have Rented the Car
Most rental companies do not allow you to cross certain borders, if any, using their cars. This is specified in the rental contract. However, you could draft a rental contract with the owner of the car, stating duration, costs, and listing the countries in which you are allowed to drive (including Ukraine)
Please note that there is no guarantee that you will be allowed to cross the Ukranian border driving someone else's car. Indeed, at the end of the day the decision lies in the hands of the customs officer handling your case. So make a contingency plan in case you are turned down at the border.
I've crossed many borders in my car and not once have I been asked to provide proof of ownership, or even been questioned about it.
However, my experience is all EU/EEA. The only crossings I have made that might have had the potential for questioning (i.e. a border post with some customs/immigration presence) were: entering and leaving Switzerland from neighbouring countries; and transiting from Slovenia -> Croatia -> Hungary. Several other countries have also required a vignette of some kind, and again I was never asked about ownership of my car; just country of registration, the license plate number, and pay the fee.
That said, it is often mandatory to have the vehicle ownership documents in the car when you cross an international border, so you may have a different experience.
I'll leave it to other contributors, perhaps with experience of the Polish/ Ukrainian border, to say whether my experience is common or whether there are specific issues you need to consider.