Sunday, August 4, 2019

How to apply for a Ukraine Visa [Filipino Citizens]

Ukraine is an underrated country in Europe. It is often ignored by travelers. Currently Ukraine is one of the cheapest country in Europe and there are only few or no tourists at the moment which is the best time to visit. Personally, I am interested in this country for the reason that it is a former member of the soviet union and for its rich history. It is one of my life goal to visit the 15 countries of the former soviet union. This is the first stop...

Before going directly to that goal, Filipinos need to apply for a visa to get to Ukraine. There are no Ukrainian embassy in the Philippines and the nearest embassy is in Malaysia. I almost lose hope knowing that there is no Ukrainian Embassy in the Philippines and that the requirement is a bit tedious (Tourist Voucher for one) plus there are almost no information/blog from Filipinos applying for one. 

Luckily, upon searching and asking the Ukraine embassy in Malaysia, they told me that the  VFS Manila is authorized to process applications from the Philippines. 

For this article, I will be listing out all the process and the experiences I have undergone while applying for an UKRAINE TOURIST VISA.  There is no personal interview for this Visa application and it is handled by VFS Manila.

Part I: Requirements:

According to VFS Manila below are the list of requirement needed to apply for a UKRAINE TOURIST VISA (for Employees):

  1. Valid Philippine Passport - Broken lamination of the photo part is not accepted. Must have a signature and have at least two (2) blank pages. Tip(s): Be sure that your passport is still valid 6 months on the date of travel. 
  2. Electronic Visa Application Form - You need to register to the Ministry of Foriegn Affiars of Ukraine so you can fill up the electronic visa application form here. Tip(s): Be sure to answer all the fields and put N/A to those not relevant. Be sure not to leave blank items by adding N/A to it. 
  3. Photo - Specs: 35mm x 45mm with white background. The same photo should be submitted physically and attached in the electronic visa application form. Tips: Be sure to submit a clear copy of your photo to avoid providing a new one. Photo shops should know this for sure just indicate you need it  for Ukraine Visa or inform them the dimensions.
  4. Round Trip Airline Ticket - Provide a copy of the confirmed flight itineraryTip(s): I was able to book a Piso Fare so this was not a problem for me and the ticket was from Manila - Dubai then Dubai to Kiev.  If you didn't book any yet you can just ask for a dummy reservation to any travel agency for a small fee which can be cancelled.
  5. Accommodation Reservation - Provide a copy of the confirmed accommodation booking through a Hotel/Hostel or Airbnb. Tip(s): I used for this one and I randomly select a hostel that match my budget and I look for the one that has "free cancellation" option in case worst scenario comes in( eg. visa will not be granted or I found something better).
  6. Travel Itinerary - Rough summary of your itinerary in Ukraine. Tip(s): Be sure to match all of your dates indicated on your itinerary and in the application form.  It is OK that you cannot specify all list of activities on that day but as long as you indicate the summary of it.
  7. Bank Certificate - Must be signed by the Bank Manager. Should include 6 months bank statement and the receipt of the payment of the certificate Tip(s): Be sure you have an adequate amount of funds that can support all the activities you have in your Daily Schedule. You cannot just put in your accommodation that you are staying at a 5-star hotel while your bank can't support it. I submitted a 3 months bank statement  instead of a 6 months as this is what my bank can process and did not get a receipt upon request.
  8. Income Tax Return (original and xerox copy) - If employed. Tip(s): Be sure to provide a xerox copy since the original one might not be returned to you.
  9. Certificate of Employment  - If employed. Tip(s): Be sure that all the information like tenure, benefits, and etc. is reflected in the certificate so there will be no problem.
  10. Insurance (Travel / Medical)  - a valid medical/travel insurance policy to cover Ukraine and the period of stay (the policy should provide a minimum of €30 000 or equivalent coverage);. Tip(s): I ordered a travel insurance online through Malayan Insurance and choose the Schengen one(even though Ukraine is not part) here.
  11. Visa Fee  - The fee varies depending on the visa you are applying. The fees are to be wired/sent to the Ukraine usd account. Tip(s): Be sure to send an extra to the amount you sent (say $5) in case there are charges and that your payment will still be sufficient to the fees required and if not you need to send the lacking amount again.

Visa Fees:

Normal Processing fee (10 working days or more): 60 usd
Rush Processing fee (around 5 working days) : 130 usd

Ukraine Embassy in Malaysia:
Malayan Banking Berhard
Account name: EMBASSY OF UKRAINE        
Account number: USD - 714057007226
Bank Address:
Ground & Mezzanine Floor, Bangunan UTMSPACE, 195A,
Jalan Tun Razak,
50450 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

VFS Manila Fees:

Service Charge: Php 1,155
2 way Courier Charge:  Php 1,850

VFS Office Address:
Ukraine Visa Application Centre,
Ground Floor, Ecoplaza Bldg.,
Don Chino Roces Ave., Makati City, Metro Manila

1231 Philippines
Phone +63 2 9582563

For more info Visit the VFS Manila website: here
For more info Visit the Ministry of Foriegn Affairs of Ukraine website: here

Sample Travel itinerary

Part II: Procedure

The procedure is easy since it is taking care by VFS Manila. Once you have gathered all the required documents it is time for you to submit them. As I mentioned above, the VFS office in Manila is able to process the Ukraine visa application in the Philippines. The office is open 7 am to 4 pm Mondays to Fridays.  You need to submit your electronic application first , then print it. Below you will see the status of your application in the second column. (currently is says closed since there is already a decision made for my application)

Visa Application status

You can submit the application yourself or you can ask somebody to submit it for you. Please note that some of the information in the VFS website is not updated. I experienced this when I was about to submit my application on a Ukrainian holiday(they supposed to be close if it is holiday in Ukraine, which is stated in their website) but then when I call them they said they are open. The submission and claiming schedules are also not updated on the website where they say they are only catering on those specific times, but it is not instead they catered it as long as it is within their office hours. Best to call them to get more updated information and if you have further questions.

In my case, I applied directly after arriving in Manila after a trip to Mongolia (please check my guide for traveling overland from Beijing to Ulaanbaatar here ). I went directly to the VFS Manila office with my documents. Upon arriving, they checked my documents and easily pointed out the incorrect items. First my passport wasn't signed (so be sure to have it signed). Second the place that will be written  in the application form(last part of the form) should be "Makati City". I was thinking that the visa fee was to be paid in the VFS Manila office, but instead you need to wire/transfer it yourself from a bank to the Ukraine embassy in Malaysia's account(full details above). 

Since I was running out of time and the VFS Manila office was about to close, I went to the bank across the office (BPI) and conduct the transfer. You just inform them that your transfer money in USD to the embassy's account. The process took me around 20 mins. Be sure to send an extra amount aside from the actual fee itself. Also, do note that there are charges (from the bank) once you conduct the transfer. Please ask for a transaction receipt/ confirmation from the bank and include it on the submitted documents.

I went bank to the office and they said that they are closed (dah F). So I ask them about  a possible option for me as I am based in Cebu and going back home later that day. I ask if it is possible for me to send the requirements to their office(after I get back home) or to leave my requirements to them and process it once they are able but they said no and not possible for both of my questions. After hearing this, I ask them so what is the option for me then, then they said that I can have it submitted by another person provided I give the authorization. After hearing that, it gives hope to my application. Then I went to the airport and catch my flight home.

A day after arriving home, I contacted my friends that are based in Makati if they can submit my application on my behalf and I am glad that one of them(Thanks Jan!) agreed to my request. I send my requirements to him and after a few days he submitted it to the VFS Manila Office and paid the VFS Manila fees. I also ask that my passport be delivered to my address in Cebu once the decision has been made for my application (this requires additional fee on top of the fees listed above.).

After my friend submitted the application, I received a confirmation from VFS Manila  that the application was received and from there, there are no updates from them and I just waited. After a few days I constantly check  the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine account for updates but it still says that they are still processing. So the waiting game intensifies.

Part III: Claiming

After 10 working days, I checked again the status and I was worried since the status says it was closed. I ask online ( Facebook group) about it if anybody had experience the same and somebody said  that a decision had been made by the embassy and I should expect my passport soon. A few days after that I received a text from a courier hired by VFS manila that I have a parcel. Then I received my passport with Visa in it.

To sum up the timeline:
Sept 9, 2019 = Submitted my documents (by a friend)
Sept 11, 2019 = Application received by the Embassy nin Malaysia
Sept 23, 2019 = Application was tag as "closed" in Embassy website
Sept 24, 2019 = Received my passport with Visa in it.

My Ukraine Visa
Have you tried applying for a Ukraine visa? Share your stories and experience in the comment section below.