Before a visit to Ukraine, make sure to prepare for your stay. You should get insurance, plan accommodation and transportation on the ground, learn where to get legal and medical assistance, etc.
Media outlets are legally required to provide their employees covering the war zone with means of protection against firearms and shrapnel injuries, as well as medical kits.
Also, employers must insure their reporters in case of injuries while covering the war. If a journalist doesn’t get insurance provided by their organization, they can buy it on their own.
Many insurance companies in Ukraine offer health insurance for foreign citizens. If you are planning a trip to a place of active hostilities, such a trip entails much more risks. In this case, consider military risk insurance and take out a relevant policy.
Foreign journalists can get reliable insurance on the Visit Ukraine website:
Complete health insurance and medical repatriation for freelance journalists and reporters for almost any country, including the war zone in Ukraine, is provided by Reporters Without Borders. RSF offers a range of insurance policies for journalists who are RSF members in partnership with the insurance company Battleface. Read more here.
Visas and crossing the border
Citizens of the EU and EEA countries, the US, Canada, the UK, and many other states (87 countries in total) do not need a visa to enter Ukraine as tourists. Citizens of more than 52 countries can apply for an e-visa.
You can check whether you need a visa to Ukraine and the visa requirements on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.
Conditions for foreign citizens to cross the border of Ukraine:
Please note that the trips of foreign citizens to Ukrainian territories occupied by the Russian army through the territory of Russia (including Crimea) are a violation of Ukrainian law. The consequence of such actions may be deprivation of Ukrainian accreditation or refusal to enter Ukraine.
Booking hotels and apartments
You can find accommodation (hotel, apartment, house, etc.) on the following websites:
If you are planning to stay in Ukraine for a long time, you can save money by renting housing on a monthly basis rather than daily. You can find accommodation options on Dom.ria, Flatfy.ua, Rieltor.ua, Bon.ua, and other websites. On these platforms, you can use your browser's auto-translation or ask your Ukrainian-speaking colleagues/fixers to help you.
Rent a car
There are many rental companies in Ukraine, and car rental is possible for both short and long term. In large cities, you can rent a car through a car-sharing service directly with a smartphone app without visiting the rental company's office.
Depending on the rental company you choose, the mileage limit and the territory of car use may vary. Some companies set a limit of 300 to 350 kilometers per day and restrict the use of cars in a certain town or region. If you know that you will need to drive a lot and over a wide area (or even traveling abroad and returning to Ukraine), look for a company that does not impose severe restrictions.
Keep in mind that, under martial law in Ukraine, car rental companies set restrictions on car operations in the frontline regions and temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.
How a foreigner can rent a car in Ukraine: requirements
To rent a car, both foreign citizens and Ukrainian drivers must be over 21–23 years old and have 2–3 years of driving experience. In case of inadequate behavior or drunkenness, a representative of the rental company may refuse to hand over the car to the renter.
Most often, when renting a car, the renter must pay a deposit, which serves as a guarantee in case of damage to the car during use.
To rent a car in Ukraine, foreign journalists need the following documents:
- Passport used to enter Ukraine
- Driver’s license
The choice of a car for foreigners in Ukraine depends on their needs. If you plan to drive around the city, choose small cars with low fuel consumption. If you plan to travel long distances between cities, it is better to choose crossovers or SUVs.
How to travel in Ukraine
Ukraine has a diverse transportation system. Air travel is not available during the full-scale war, but you can get from one city to another by train, bus, or your own car or a rented one.
To buy a train ticket, you can visit the English-language version of the Ukrainian Railways website.
For intercity buses, the following bus carriers operate in Ukraine:
The following public transportation options are available to get around the city:
- Subway (in Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Dnipro)
- Marshrootka (vans that drive along set routes)
- City train (not in every city)
In most Ukrainian cities, it is possible to pay for travel in public transport in cash.
You can also use taxi services in Ukrainian cities. You can order a car through the following taxi apps in Ukraine:
- Elit Taxi
- Taxi 818
- Opti (taxi 579)
- SHARK Taxi
Please note that the mentioned taxi services do not work in all Ukrainian cities.
Journalists who cover events in Ukraine, especially in the war zone, are at risk of meeting Russian occupiers.
Foreign media representatives should consider some physical and digital security tips to protect themselves better.
Digital security tips
Your devices may be searched by the Russians, so take the following steps in advance:
- Protect your devices with a PIN lock or password. Note that this may not prevent law enforcement from unlocking it;
- Turn on the encryption on your computers and Android devices. iPhones come with encryption as standard. You will need to turn off your device to enable encryption;
- Delete any data from your device that you think could put you at risk;
- Back up your information regularly to an external storage device, such as a hard disk;
- Analyze the content of your messengers and set up a process to regularly back up and delete the content;
- Remove from your phone or messenger contact information of people you believe may put you or them in danger;
- Regularly review the content of all your accounts, especially email and social media. Think about what information could put you or others at risk;
- Your social media profiles share a lot of information about who you are communicating with through your followers and friend lists. Review your friends and followers on social media and remove anyone you think is putting you or others at risk;
- Make it harder to access your accounts by logging out and regularly clearing your browsing history;
- Limit the number of messengers and email programs on your phone or computer.
What to do if you are detained or arrested by Ukrainian police
- Before arresting you, the police officer must tell you that you are being arrested and for what reason. Remember the place, time, and circumstances leading up to the arrest;
- Always stay calm and respectful. Maintain eye contact with the officer and do not resist;
- Avoid recording your arrest on video, as this may provoke the police and result in damage or confiscation of your equipment;
- Keep your bag, equipment, and electronic devices in line of sight;
- Inform the police of your health status and any medicine you are taking;
- Pay attention to people standing nearby who may witness your arrest;
- If you do not speak or read the local language, do not sign any documents or confess to anything until an interpreter, lawyer, or legal representative is present;
- A police officer may search you if he or she suspects you are hiding illegal items. Women should insist that any strip search be conducted by a female police officer;
- If you have been assaulted by a police officer, try to keep a record of your injuries, medical treatment, and any hospital visits. Also, try to memorize the names and physical appearance of those responsible.
According to Ukrainian law, foreign citizens must have health insurance when obtaining an entry visa or crossing the border of Ukraine under a visa-free regime. The insurance should guarantee payment for emergency medical care.
If you don’t have health insurance, you will need to pay directly for all medical services. Foreigners have the right to seek emergency medical care at any state and municipal healthcare institution in Ukraine. In addition, they can visit private medical institutions at any time and have the necessary diagnostics or treatment.
Foreign journalists covering events in the combat zone must have a first aid kit with them. If injured on the frontline, journalists receive medical care in local or military hospitals.
Coworking spaces & media centers
The Media Center Ukraine, Ukraine’s main communication platform during the war, offers four locations in Ukrainian cities where foreign journalists can work with guaranteed stable Internet and electricity, get help finding interviewees and contacts, and receive advice on accreditation and other aspects of reporting in Ukraine.
In large cities, foreign journalists can find many comfortable coworking spaces that are equipped with everything needed for stable work. Most coworking spaces are located in the city center, with convenient transportation and nearby cafés and restaurants.