The moment was finally there. After traveling through almost ten European Union countries (Norway not being included) it was time for a real test. Crossing the border from Poland into the Ukraine (Korczowa-Krakovets border) has a notorious reputation for being the worst and longest border cross from Europe. Waiting up to 24 hours and sleeping in the car were common remarks, when searching for information online. As my trip (Blog section: The Trip 2017) included a visit to the Ukraine, I had no choice but to experience Korczowa-Krakovets border crossing myself.
7 hours!! I took us (…) 7 hours to get across the border from Poland to Ukraine. Unbelievable, but we made it! All the custom officers were very nice but just the paperwork process takes a long long time. Arrived in Lviv at 11.00 pm. Big thank you to Tanya of The Road Trip Guy team for translation and negotiations! #poland #polen #border #adventuretime #ukraine #ukrain #lviv
Table of Contents
Crossing the Korczowa-Krakovets border. A step by step guide.
The A4 highway from Krakow to the Ukrainian border was a smooth ride. The very little traffic gave me some hope that it might not be so busy at the Korczowa-Krakovets border crossing after all. I could not be more wrong! Once you get near to Korczowa, you will notice the highway being split up into 4 lines; Cars, trucks, buses and taxes. The taxes line is for cars that have to declare any goods or travel with goods that will be sold in Ukraine.
All the other lines speak for itself. I arrived in this line at 3.30 pm and about every 5 minutes about 10 cars were let through. I took me 1 hour to get through our line. “That was not to bad” I remember saying to myself. Little did I know that I was about to have the longest 6 hours of my life after that!
(Related: Read my friend’s blog post – Polish-Ukrainian border crossing in Korczowa by car)
The first check; EU & all passports lines
After the first check, you will see two different lines for the Polish border. Here it is very important to check your passports before choosing a line;
If anybody in the car has a EU passport you can choose this line, no matter what other passports are present in the car!
I waited almost 3 hours at the “All Passports” line because my translator in the car had a Ukrainian passport. I assumed that I would not be allowed in the EU line as we had different passports. The EU line is much much faster and once it was finally our turn the first thing the Polish custom officer said;
Why are you in the “All passports” line? You only need 1 valid EU passport to stay in the EU line. No matter what other nationalities are in the car.
Ok ok, I get it now. Lesson learned, trust me!
Welcome to the Ukraine: The slowest border in the world?
Once you pass the Polish border your real adventure starts. You will enter the Ukrainian customs and here you will receive ,at the first check, a small piece of papier with your number plate written on it. Whatever you do, don’t lose this piece of paper! It will be stamped 2 more times, before entering the country. If you lose it, you will have to go back in line and start the process all over again.
After standing in line for one hour we finally got a the customs check. During this time I was asked about 3 times (by 3 different officers) if I had any drugs, alcohol or guns in the car. This is normal procedure so just be prepared for it. At the customs check they take your passport and car registration number. Now here is also a very important next tip;
If your car is registered as a company car you need to have a chamber of commerce license that states the company name and that you are the owner/shareholder of this company and therefore owner of the car.
Vehicle registration card
Because my vehicle registration card said my company name and not my personal name, we had to present all documents from my company registration, get copies and sign every document separately. This took almost 2 hours and you can imagine how frustrating it was getting. As nobody speak English, I was very happy to have Tanya with me as a translator. Without her, it would not have been possible to survive this madness.
They made us wait for another hour, in uncertainty, if we would be allowed into the country. Every time we asked the officer for an update he said they are working on it. Eventually, Tanya got tired of the bullshit and asked another lady at the reception if we could get our passports back. “Yes” she said and gave us right away are signed/stamped passports. “Are you kidding me? ” Nope, welcome to Ukraine! Things just don’t go fast here.. or make any sense!
Long story short
It took me up to 7 hours to cross this border. The second stamp on your little piece of paper you will get at the custom officer and last one once you clear the last check. It has been an interesting experience, but I can only imagine how some people must have felt when staying a full day at the border. Yikes!