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Ukraine Driving Advice and Car Hire Info

The research for this website was carried out mainly in 2011 and 2012. Therefore there is a good chance that much of the information may now be out of date. This is particularly true of countries in the developing world, especially Asia, Africa and parts of South America where conditions can change often. Also, the political climate in many countries has changed a lot in recent years, as is obviously the case with Ukraine. Therefore the information on this website should be treated with caution. You should always check with your Government’s website or the UK Foreign office travel advice website before finalising plans to drive abroad.

Driving in Ukraine
Ukraine drives on the right and you should take an International Driving Permit if you want to rent a car. Roads are in fairly good condition in and around Cities but are less well maintained in the countryside and will deteriorate in bad weather. If driving in Winter tell the rental company where you intend to go and they’ll advise if you need winter tyres. Signs away from Cities are generally in Cyrillic only- if you can get a combined Cyrillic/Roman alphabet roadmap you’ll find this useful. Major cities can be confusing to drive in, especially Kiev. Avoid driving in the Centre if you can and ask the rental company if they’ll drive you to/from the outskirts. Once away from towns traffic is lighter. Driving standards are generally poor by Northern Europe/ USA standards and you should expect drivers to flout traffic rules- expect the unexpected. Avoid driving at night in rural areas where you will encounter poorly lit/ unlit vehicles on unlit roads. Drink driving can also be a problem though the drink drive limit is zero. You may be stopped by the police and its unlikely they’ll speak English. They are able to impose a fine on the spot but you shouldn’t have to hand over cash to an officer, it generally has to be paid to a bank within 14 days.

Euro 2012 Football in Poland and Ukraine (I’ll leave this section visible as it may be useful for travellers wanting to visit both Ukraine and Poland)

The tournament is to be played in June 2012 across sites in Ukraine and Poland. Teams will generally be based across two sites in one country, though the locations of quarter finals and semi finals may mean that supporters have the travel between countries.However, supporters planning on a one way car rental to travel between sites may be disappointed. Of the big rental companies, only Budget allow cars to be taken out of Ukraine (for 12 Euros per day) but don’t allow one way rentals to Poland.

When renting a car in Poland, most of the big companies include Ukraine in their list of countries which cars can’t be driven in at all. Only Hertz don’t include Ukraine in their forbidden list but they also don’t allow one way rentals between Poland and Ukraine. Europcar and Avis don’t make it clear whether they allow their cars to be driven into Ukraine.

All the big companies seem to have outlets in all the main tournament towns though and one way rentals should be possible within each country. Some local rental companies are also included in the main country sections above.

Another factor which needs to be taken into account for supporters planning to drive their own cars to the tournament and use it to travel between games is the large distances between some locations and the fact that dual lane motorways are rare (especially in Ukraine) so your speed will generally be no more than 80 KMH. See below for driving distances and approximate travel times.

General driving and road conditions are okay in both Poland and Ukraine as detailed above but another point to note relates to drinking and driving. Poland has a drink drive blood alcohol limit of 0.02{7f4422d59222ef42e86be9359b1bf1dbe011d48d1cfdf8d1c820b409fb7ac6f1}, which is about a quarter of that in the UK, and half that of Germany, Spain, France and Holland ,and Ukraine has a zero tolerance approach to drink driving. i.e its illegal to have any alcohol in your bloodstream when driving, and the local police will be targeting football supporters during Euro 2012. Also its worth bearing in mind that having any alcohol in your bloodstream will invalidate the insurance of most car rental companies.

When driving in Ukraine, you’ll find that signs and maps generally have 3 different wording for major towns – one in Roman script, one in Ukrainian and one in Russian. Its well worth investing in a map with wordings in all languages if you can as this helps a lot with navigating away from main roads where there may be little or no roman lettering. For ease I’ve included all language versions of main Cities below –

Driving distances within Poland-

Wroclaw to Warsaw 350KM, 5hrs 30 ,

Gdansk to Poznan, 300KM, 4hrs 30 , there is a section of toll road which should be about 5 Euros

Gdansk to Warsaw, 345km, 5 hrs,

Poznan to Wroclaw, 180km, 3hrs,

Poznan to Warsaw,320km, 4hrs

Krakow to Warsaw,300km, 4 hours 30

Distances within Ukraine-

Kiev (Kyïv/ Київ) to Donetsk (Donec’k/ Донецьк)– 830km, 12 hours,

Kiev to Kharkiv (Charkiv/ Харків) -480KM, 7 hrs

Lviv (L’viv/ Львів) to Kharkiv– 1030KM, 15 hrs,

Lviv to Kiev – 540km, 8 hrs

Kiev to (Dnipropetrovs’k/ Дніпропетровськ)– 535km 8 hrs

Dnipropetrovs’k – Odessa (Odesa/Одеса), 581km ,8 hrs 30.

Distances between Poland and Ukraine –

Warsaw to Donetsk ,1655 km, 23 hours

Donetsk to Gdansk,2000 km, 28 hours

Kiev to Warsaw ,820km, 12 hours

Kiev to Gdansk, 1160km, 16 hrs

Poznan to Donetsk,1970km, 27 hrs

Kharkiv to Warsaw ,1300 km, 19 hours

Kharkiv to Gdansk,1650 km, 23 hours

There are a number of mileage and direction websites covering Poland and Ukraine – the one below is reliable-

Ukraine Car Rental –
Sixt, Hertz, Europcar, Alamo, National,Avis, Budget,  have outlets here . Also usually features on Car rental broker sites such as Argus Car Hire and Web discount sites such as or Expedia.

These are some local companies-

Ukraine Self Drive Rules
None of the big companies seem to allow cars to be taken out of Ukraine. Most should allow one way rentals within Ukraine and most have branches in major cities eg Hertz covers Donetsk, Dniepo, Kiev, lviv, Kharkov,Odessa, Simferopol,Zaporozhye.


  1. R Massot

    Thanks, dear, for this very useful web.
    I visited Ukaraina, Crimea, in Setember, and I rented a car, I think through a web, name “”, because they allow me to pick up the car in the central station in Simferospol, and drop it in the airport. The agency was Budget, with really kind girl attending us.
    It was an experience without problems, and we enjoy a lot going around this peninsula, and their beautiful coast, and nice cities.
    Well, you must correct your assertion that in this country you drive LEFT side. Unless in Crimea is always RIGHT side.
    We rent Budget car, and nobody asked for the INTERNATIONAL Driving Permit, never.
    Roads were in good condition. Enough signs, always in cyrillic. Kind people, they stop their car, just to help us. Also the police drived in front of us during 12 km, just to find a monument.
    I bought a Navigator -NAVIGON-, but I don`t recomment it. the web of the roads is poor and with bad information. You must introduce cyrilic, in the ukranian variant, not in russian, the common language in maps.
    Happy New Year!

  2. Driver Abroad

    Well spotted R Massot! Obviously Ukraine drives on the right…my error. Thanks for pointing that out and the rest of the info you provided.Matthew

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