Archive for March 6th, 2009

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Needing to Pee……….or worse

March 6, 2009

Public toilets in Ukraine are somewhat……………lacking.  Public disabled toilets are noticeable by their complete absence.

This seems to be a common phenomenon throughout the former Soviet Union.  It has been dealt with, at least practically (if not aesthetically) in Moscow by lines of blue plastic cubicles on the main street, which are in fact chemical toilets guarded ferociously by Babooshka’s demanding a few Kopeks  to ease your anal or urinal retention issues.  Invariably they have little or no change………or at least desire to give you change………meaning it is either not a penny you spend, or your will power gives way to bodily function and you soil yourself in the street.  It is therefore good advice to carry small currency denominations with you at all times.

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Returning to Ukraine and your bodily functions, although it may be argued the ferocious Babooska’s are still prevalent, there is a severe lack of even blue plastic chemical toilets on the streets. 

Obviously all restaurants, most supermarkets and every MacDonald’s are the place to head for when you feel your bladder is resembling the recent housing bubble in October 2008………and about to burst.

Again, it is useful to always carry small change with you when considering the need to spend a “kopek”.  The vast majority of supermarket and shopping mall toilets are not free.  Some now have automated turn-styles to get into the toilet area, whereby without a 50 kopek coin you will not gain entrance, Athena shopping mall in Odessa is an example of this system.  Where the system falls down is that without this coin, there is nobody there to provide change and a dash to a store to obtain the right coin is required…………assuming they have any 50 kopek coins.

Having managed to gain entry into the toilet area, be it free, paid for, or vaulting the turn-style (and awaiting the armed security man after you are relieved……in the latter case for failing to pay) you are faced with several forms of toilet depending upon the establishment.

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Before we go any futher into detail, again at this point it is still necessary to ensure you have a reasonable amount of small currency bank notes ( preferably 1 and 2 UAH notes)………..for reasons which will become apparent soon.

You are now faced with several alternatives, not from which to choose, but which have been installed.  There is the standard, or so you think, western urinal and sanitary ware, or urinal and……..tiled floor with a hole in it.

There is no need to go into the working of the hole surrounded by ceramics I feel, so we will concentrate on what you thought was the standard western sanitary ware.  We would normally look for a lever to pull down or alternatively a button to depress.  Frequently here though, you will find a silver ball, like a large metal ball-bearing situated in the centre of the tank at the rear of the toilet. 

No matter how hard you pull down or depress it, no water is released into the toilet bowl, you have to pull it up approximately 10 centimeters (or 3 inches) for the water to be released.

I would have done that I hear you all cry……………but many times I have had to tell foreigners that all they had to do was pull it up after they have left the toilet and said the flush would not work!!!!!

Going up a couple of paragraphs in this blog, I know you are still asking, “Why the need to ensure you had small bank notes with you?”  The answer…………I bet you didn’t check whether there was any toilet tissue before you sat down!

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The alternative is to wear incontenance pants of course.

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Visiting Ukraine – The Individual

March 6, 2009

Sigh……….this is a thread that will no doubt be updated many times as the guidelines either change or are enforced with varying consistency.

The average tourist from the EU or USA can enter Ukraine without a visa.  You cannot, however, carry out any paid employment or business related activity.  You are entitled to remain in Ukraine for 90 days within a 180 day period either in a block period or as a sum of many different visits.  Those are the rules.  Breaching these rules can cost you a fine upon leaving Ukraine of up to 680 UAH (local currency) and lead to you not being allowed to return for a period of 6 months.

Enforcement of these rules varies dramatically as does the amount of fine you will receive.

Your stay can be extended over and above the 90 days, even as a tourist, by registration with the OVIR, which entitles you to a further 90 days………thus providing 180 block staying facility.

Not as simple as you may think though.  The OVIR require you to have a registered address to stamp your passport with the extended stay status.  Many landlords will not provide you with this documentation, not because they do not want you to carry on renting their apartments but because they will not be declaring the earnings from rental for tax purposes.

If you do manage to accomplish registration with the OVIR, then it is not necessary for you to remain at the address you are registered at during your stay in Ukraine.

All forms must be completed in Ukrainian or Russian, and therefore the vast majority of people from outside the FSU will require help completing these forms from the OVIR as the OVIR will not help you complete the forms.

If you intend to work whilst in Ukraine as an individual, rather than for a company, (the documentation for which will be covered in Business Admin thread), then the simplest way to achieve this is as a Private Entrepreneur or (PE) status.  This is not easy to achieve either and will invariably require the aid of an advocate (lawyer).  You will then also need a Work Visa after getting your PE visa.

 When this is done, you will, having declared you will be working in Ukraine, need to register with the Tax officials and get a tax ID Card and number.  This is a very simple process, involving simply making the application (in Russian or Ukrainian) and providing a copy of your passport.  Return to the Tax Office a week later and your card is ready……………….by this point it seems the administration considers you to have negotiated enough hurdles to make life a little more easy for you.

It should be noted that you cannot by property, land or a car without a tax number……..although you can get your tax number even as a tourist and there is no need to have any visa or work permit to get one.

For most people though, the 90/180 days rule in Ukraine is enough…………..as they are invariably tourists.

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