55

On returning to the U.S. I must fill out a customs declaration form, which includes listing the countries that I have visited prior to arrival in the U.S.

If I was in Russia and visited Crimea after the disputed accession took place, what countries do I list on the form? Should I list only Russia (de facto status), or should I list both Ukraine and Russia (status recognized by the U.S.)?

  • 1
    Perhaps write 1. Russia 2. Russia (Crimea)? – gerrit Nov 11 '14 at 20:31
  • 24
    I imagine it's not uncommon that people (accidentally or deliberately) write things like "Scotland" instead of "United Kingdom", "Quebec" instead of "Canada", "Catalonia" instead of "Spain", "Réunion" instead of "France", "Somaliland" instead of "Somalia", etc etc, without incident. I imagine you could probably just write "Crimea" and sidestep all the geopolitics? – user568458 Nov 12 '14 at 17:41
  • 2
    @user568458 Weeelll, Scotland is repeatedly called a "country" on Wikipedia... (And that's how I (in the US) have always thought of it) – Izkata Nov 13 '14 at 19:38
  • 3
    Scotland is a country - but it's not an independent country and is a country within another nation state. Likewise both Ukraine and Russia describe Crimea as a Republic... Basically it's not unusual for things to be complicated even where there are no international conflicts. – user568458 Nov 14 '14 at 9:31
  • 1
    There have been some reports (mostly Russian reporting a.k.a. TASS) stating that the Ukraine is now performing passport control at the border of Ukraine and Crimea and that "Crimean" uniformed personnel are performing it on the Crimean side. – CGCampbell Nov 14 '14 at 15:50
55

Ultimately there is no penalty for writing the country name wrong on your Immigration form. The list is there to allow the immigration officer quickly determine if any secondary questions should be asked or to inform customs that perhaps a secondary inspection might be warranted (often used by Agriculture Department to route people for Ag Inspections).

Since Crimea currently is sort of a no man's land when it comes to being officially recognized, I would just write down Crimea by itself. If the Immigration officer feels it should be written as Ukraine or something else, they will either change it for you or ask you to update the form.

They will likely be more concerned as to why you were in Crimea, rather than how you wrote it on your form.

  • 18
    +1 for being more concerned about why you were in Crimea. To that end, just writing 'Russia' might get you less questions. – reirab Nov 12 '14 at 4:07
  • 11
    Honesty is always better, as long as your reasons for being there were legit. In the case, especially true since the USA does not recognize Crimea as part of Russia, – user13044 Nov 12 '14 at 6:27
  • 7
    I agree that honesty is always the best way to go. Certainly don't deny being in Crimea (or anywhere else you may have been) if they ask, but I don't see a reason to volunteer the particular part of a country you were in unless they ask. – reirab Nov 12 '14 at 6:48
  • 2
    "is sort of a no man's land" -- if asking US customs/immigration what to do, the phrase "disputed territory" might get you into the neighbourhood of a straight answer that applies more generally than just asking about Crimea in particular. – Steve Jessop Nov 13 '14 at 13:35
  • Great answer. The gravamen of of the issue is not on getting the details on the form 100% technically correct, but on not deceiving the immigration/customs official. So, if you write "Countries Visited: Crimea, Hong Kong, French Guiana, Greenland, Northern Cyprus, Abkhazia, Japan Okinawa", only the most anal-retentive official is going to call you out on it. – Robert Columbia Jun 2 '17 at 21:45
-1

Since Crimea is not a sovereign country, it shouldn't be listed separately. You wouldn't want to list Ukraine either because that would be an acknowledgement of an illegal entry.

0

I am almost completely sure that you've broken Ukrainian law, because you was on officially Ukrainian territory without crossing Ukrainian border. I suggest you to cross Crimean border from the Ukrainian side the next time. It's doesn't have to be a problem because Ukraine doesn't require a visa from US citizens.

I think that you should include either Ukraine or Crimea as long as USA supports the fact that Crimea is a part of Ukraine.

6

I suppose US border agency does not require that you follow latest news from around the world, and then accept the recommended point of view on disputable matters. You did not cross de-facto Ukrainian border - you don't list it.

Then you don't need to tell whether Crimea belongs to Russian Federation or Ukraine: both consider it as their own part, so you just can let others decide which is right or wrong by specifying Crimea as a separate item on your list (if you wish).

11

USA, as most of the international community does not recognise Crimea as other than a division of Ukraine you should include Ukraine in your list, where Russia is presumably going to feature anyway if you have been living there.

  • 2
    But as @Karlson said, I don't have a Ukrainian stamp on my passport, and I never went over any de facto Ukrainian border – Peter Olson Nov 11 '14 at 22:43
  • 7
    I've been to many countries without having my passport stamped. Lack of a passport stamp is no kind of proof that you haven't been there. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Nov 12 '14 at 0:24
  • 6
    @PeterOlson: As Tor says, there are lots of reasons why you might not have a stamp, so I don't think they'd automatically reject you for not having a stamp; at most they might ask you to explain why you don't have one. And then you would tell them: you were in Crimea, and Ukranian border control is not present there. – Nate Eldredge Nov 12 '14 at 1:02
23

You could simply list Russia(Crimea) as @gerrit had suggested but at the moment while not being recognized (by most) as part of Russia it's immigration and border control is administered by Russia:

In March 2014, Russia occupied the Crimean Peninsula, which remains part of Ukraine notwithstanding Russia’s illegal military intervention. At this time the de facto Russian authorities are requiring that non-Russian citizens obtain a Russian visa to enter and exit Crimea by air, land, or sea.

So you won't have Ukrainian border control stamp in your passport to show that you were in the country unless you have left or entered the penninsula by land.

  • 3
    This. Because it can't bring you any troubles; you don't lie to anybody and visiting Crimea isn't illegal. One could as well write Ukraine (Crimea) since the territory is in general still considered Ukrainian, but I don't think it makes any difference, it can only make one feel better. – yo' Nov 12 '14 at 0:20
  • 1
    @tohecz I don't follow... – Karlson Nov 12 '14 at 2:22

protected by jpatokal Nov 14 '14 at 3:55

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