Ukrainian Civil Issues
Apostilles and Legalization of Documents
An apostille is the equivalent of an international notarial seal. Documents which bear an apostille are legally valid for use in all countries party to the Hague Convention on the Legalization of Documents. This includes both the United States and Ukraine.
The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv cannot apostille or authenticate documents issued in the United States. Such documents are apostilled by the Office of the Secretary of State (or the equivalent office) in the State which issued the original document. Documents issued by the U.S. Government are apostilled by the Department of State's Authentications Office. Contact information for the 50 Secretaries of State is available on the National Association of Secretaries of State website.
Documents issued in Ukraine are apostilled by the Ministry of Justice. Notarized documents are apostilled at Artem 73 in Kyiv in room 155 at this phone number: (044) 486-49-88. Civil registry documents (i.e. death, birth, marriage, divorce certificates, etc.) are apostilled at 15 Maryny Raskovoi in Kyiv at this phone number: (044) 233-65-13. Hours are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:00 am until 12:00 noon. A regular apostille takes one day. However, in certain cases the process may take up to 20 business days if the Ministry does not have a copy of the seal and/or signature on file.
U.S. civil records (i.e., records of birth, death, marriage, etc.) are obtained from the State or territory in which they were issued. Please visit the Centers for Disease Control website for information on where to obtain such documents.
If you are in Ukraine, you may contact the local state civil registration office (RAGS) for copies of civil records. If you are in the United States, please contact the Embassy of Ukraine for information about obtaining Ukrainian civil records.
Marriage and Divorce in Ukraine
According to the Family Code of Ukraine, marriage is a family union of a woman and a man registered at a state civil registration office. A religious marriage ceremony does not result in an official marriage recognized by the state. Proxy marriages are also not legal under Ukrainian law.
Getting married in Ukraine can take from several weeks to several months. Both parties applying for marriage must have a legal status in Ukraine (Ukrainian citizenship, residency permit, visa, entry stamp in their passport, etc.). An application for marriage should be submitted by a couple in person (or by an authorized third party) at any state civil registration office in Ukraine. Normally, the waiting period is one month from the date of application to the date of marriage registration. According to the law, it is possible to expedite the process due to exigent circumstances. The application is annulled if marriage is not registered within three months of the application.
If either of the parties has been married before, they need to have either the original or a certified copy of their divorce decree or their spouse's death certificate. If these documents were not issued in Ukraine, they must be property authenticated (apostilled) in the country of their origin. For the United States, documents are apostilled by the Office of the Secretary of State (or the equivalent office) in the State which issued the original document. Contact information for the 50 Secretaries of State is available on the website of the Hague Conference on Private International Law. Please note that the U.S. Embassy cannot certify any documents issued in the U.S.
For more information on the civil marriage process in Ukraine including a sample of the marriage application, please visit the website of the State Registration Service of Ukraine (in Ukrainian only).
U.S. citizens may obtain a divorce in Ukraine as long as one of the parties resides here. If the couple has no children, their marriage can be dissolved at the state civil registration office regardless of their possible property disputes which are addressed in court separately. If there are children involved, the divorce can only be granted by a local court. More information is available at the State Registration Service of Ukraine (in Ukrainian only). The entire process can take several weeks to several months and can be very complex. The Embassy suggests that U.S. citizens involved in divorce proceedings consider hiring a Ukrainian attorney to assist them. Lists of attorneys in Kyiv and other cities are available from the American Citizen Services unit.
Marriage Brokers and Dating Services
If you have met, or are thinking about trying to meet, a Ukrainian citizen through an international marriage broker or dating service, you should be aware of the realities of getting this person a visa to the United States. Although you may intend a visit to the United States just to get acquainted in person, Ukrainian citizens associated with marriage brokers and dating services rarely overcome the legal obstacles to obtaining a nonimmigrant visa.
Additionally, many U.S. citizens trying to meet Ukrainians using an international marriage broker or dating service have fallen victim to internet scams that have cost them hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars. You may wish to consider this when deciding to use these types of services.
Ukrainian customs regulations place strict limits on the types and amounts of currency and other items that may be brought in to or taken out of Ukraine. The Embassy usually is unable to intervene in cases of money or other property seized by customs authorities, and the individual typically would need to hire a lawyer and go to court to seek the return of his or her money or property. We encourage you to contact the State Customs Service of Ukraine or a qualified legal advisor for information about specific customs regulations and requirements. The Customs Service public hotline for inquiries is +38-800-501-3130 or +38-044-249-9284, or you may email them. Customs operators typically speak only Ukrainian or Russian.
Visas and Registration
U.S. citizens do not require a visa as long as their length of stay in Ukraine is less than 90 days. Individuals requiring a visa must obtain it at a Ukrainian Embassy or Consulate before arriving in Ukraine. Individuals in the United States may contact the Embassy of Ukraine in Washington, D.C., or the Consulates General in Chicago, New York, or San Francisco for information about current visa requirements and application procedures.
Upon arrival in Ukraine, U.S. citizens generally will be registered for an authorized stay of 90 days. In some cases, it may be possible to extend the registration for an additional 90 days. However, the Embassy understands that the extension is valid only for continuous stay in Ukraine, but may not allow re-entry to the country. Requests for extension are processed through the State Migration Service of Ukraine (SMS), and must be submitted at least three days before the current registration expires. Please contact your local SMS office for detailed information about current registration requirements and application procedures.