Ukraine's State Border Guard explains special border regime approved by government

The changes to the border control system recently approved by the Ukrainian government indicate that it is now necessary to have permission from the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine to stay in a 5 km-wide border strip from the state border line.

Source: Andrii Demchenko, spokesperson for the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, in a comment to Ukrainska Pravda (UP)

Details: Resolution 1292 passed by Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers (the government) and dated 7 December, amends  resolution 1147, On the Border Regime, dated 27 July 1998.

As Demchenko explained to UP, the changes involve restrictions on free entry, stay, residence, work, and movement of individuals in the border zone (an area extending over an area 5 kilometres wide from the state borderline).

The restrictions entail that from now on, individuals need to obtain permission to enter, stay, and work within the border zone from the relevant authority of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine (the border detachment of the respective region – ed.).

This applies to both individuals and legal entities. Permission for individuals under 18 is granted upon the application of one of their parents (adoptive parents), guardians, custodians, or other legal representatives.

Ukrainian citizens intending to enter the border zone must submit a list of relevant documents to the border guard detachment to obtain the necessary permission. If they plan to cancel such a permission, they must follow the appropriate procedures.

The legislation stipulates that the State Border Guard Service must decide on granting permission, refusing to grant permission, or declaring the issued permission invalid no later than 10 working days from receiving an application along with the accompanying documents (as listed in the accepted amendments).

An important note: the form of the decision to grant/refuse permission or to declare a permit invalid will be determined by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The State Border Guard Service must inform the applicant of the decision (permission, refusal, or cancellation of permission) by the next working day after the decision is made, using the communication channel specified in the application.

Border guards say that, according to Article 22.2 of the Law of Ukraine “On the State Border of Ukraine”, populated and public recreation areas are not included in the border zone.

Demchenko explained to UP that, subject to conditions, if a Ukrainian citizen arrives at a specific resort located within a populated area within the border zone (5 kilometres), they do not need permission from the State Border Guard Service. However, if they decide to visit an area beyond this specific populated place, permission from border guards will become necessary.

The Cabinet of Ministers separately identified categories of individuals who do not need to obtain permits to stay in the border zones. Specifically, these include:

  • Individuals entering the border zone to cross the state border at border crossing points (checkpoints) across the state border;

  • Lorries drivers and accompanying persons entering the border zone to conduct multimodal transport;

  • Individuals travelling by vehicle from one populated place to another near the borderline, using roads that may cross this line, provided they do not stop in such areas;

  • Other individuals according to a specified list (members of parliament, representatives of local authorities, and other officials or law enforcement officers)

The State Border Guard Service emphasises that aviation operations, construction, deforestation, water use, geological surveys, road and other research, hydro-technical, land management, reclamation, diving work, video, film, and photo shooting of the terrain, tourist trips, parachuting, and other activities (as stipulated in paragraph 17 of the Regulations on the border regime, approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on 27 July 1998, No. 1147) within the border zone must also be carried out with permission and after informing the relevant authority of the State Border Guard Service before directly engaging in such activities.

That is, if you suddenly want to go skydiving, underwater diving, or if you want to “collect a herbarium” in the border area, you need to get a permit from the State Security Service and warn the border guards about your activity at least 24 hours before.

A spokesman for the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine said that in addition to this, the government has established a special border control system and prohibited the free entry, stay, residence, movement of persons and the conducting of works not related to the defence or protection of the state border within land plots with a width of 30–50 metres along the line of the state border on land, along the shore of the Ukrainian part of a border river, lake or other body of water, and the line of the state border of Ukraine with the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus up to 2 kilometres wide, which are provided for permanent use by military units of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine for the construction, arrangement and maintenance of engineering and technical and fortification structures, fences, border signs, border crossings and communications.

What does it mean: if you are a resident of the border strip (5 kilometres), you do not need a permit to enter your settlement, as long as you will be staying exclusively within the settlement. But outside the settlement’s borders, if this territory is legally defined as territory permanently used by military units of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, you have no right to set foot there and approach the border. In a peaceful part of the border, this strip can be 30–50 metres along the state border, and in the territories adjacent to the Russian Federation and Belarus, it is up to 2 kilometres.

Demchenko added that after approval by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the permit documents will have a standardised format and will differ in terms of validity periods, which will be specified for different cases (for example, if you live in a border settlement or decide to visit the border zone once – ed.)

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