Foreign currency exchange in Ukraine for Non-residents, with a twist for Foreigners

As far as I could remember from my childhood (under iron curtain),  foreigners had privileged status: they had got trendy jeans, majestic vinyl discs with Beatles and Pink Floyd, they’ve got US Dollars, after all! It was kind of  discrimination on residence basis…

… but nowdays vise-versa may happen … due effortless Ukrainian bank employees, who may not realise that some non-residents of Ukraine are foreign nationals in fact.

‘I experiensed positive discrimination as resident of Ukraine’

And yesterday it finally happened! I experiensed positive discrimination. Very good acquaintance of mine, Belgium citizen and resident, during short-term private visit in Kiev (Ukraine), tried to exchange his Euro for local currency – Ukraininan Hryvnia (UAH). On different occasions, cashiers of  different banks asked him literally the same: “to present Ukrainian passport” in order he could sell his Euros, because…. he is not resident of Ukraine.

‘ for more than 3 years in row NBU has been “temporarily” restricting outflow of “hard” foreign currency from Ukrqine’

Following IMF advice, in order to preserve foreign currency reserves, the NBU (National Bank of Ukraine) has been temporarily restricting outflow of “hard” foreign currency …for more than 3 years already.  That is why local residents experience some restrictions in amount of purchase, as well as in complying with tax regulation – a bank cashier should identify resident  by passport, and by tax ID code before exchange transaction. (It is not allowed using ATMs in Ukraine for currency exchange).

‘Amount of foreign currecy to be bought or transferred from Ukraine

abroad  by Ukrainian citizens is restricted’

Let’s say Ukrainian citizen, resident may not buy in Ukraine more than Euro 400 a day, or Euro 5K a month, or transfer abroad 400 a day, or Euro 5K a month, or cash-in from his/her own foreign currency account amount more than 400 a day, or Euro 5K a month… without legal proof of origin of funds and unless under certain reasons. For instance, unless this person does not prove emigration status, or need to receive medical care abroad, or does not die abroad – in country of spending aforesaid foreign currency in specified amount. Ukrainian – registered legal entities enjoy more freedom with foreign currency operations to certain extent.

While these restrictions and complexities does not apply to selling foreign currency in Ukraine.

NBU does not provide for resident person’ identification, nor transaction amount limitation when selling foreign currency. It is easy to understand, why.

Following the call of the nature, plenty of Ukrainians started buying and collecting foreign currency since aforesaid regulation was imposed by NBU – more as a sport, than necessity in everyday life.

Even more enjoyable than performing forbidden deed – is to realize having more freedom, than a non-resident, or foreigner in your own country.


” some banks in Ukraine require,

that in order to SELL foreign currency NON-resident must present

to Ukrainian bank a UKRAINIAN LOCAL passport

So yesterday I witnessed enacted another Ukrainian “Catch-22” invention. In order to SELL foreign currency NON-resident must present to bank’ cashier UKRAINIAN LOCAL passport. And – “…to confirm what is said – please check the excerpt of NBU instruction on the wall here”.  In black on white it sais : Non-resident is allowed to receive from authorized bank  (by NBU) so called “certificate 377”, witnessing exchange operation when selling foreign currency for local currency (UAH), under condition presenting a document on his/her non-residency.

‘Bank employees misinterpreted the NBU regulation,

wich requested non-residents to present a PROOF of NON-RESIDENT status,

and that  some non-residents of Ukraine are foreign nationals’

And even so, it is not – compulsory. Non-resident may decide to abstain from receiving aforesaid “certificate 377”. Without it a non-resident may not exchange back left-over hryvnia’s for foreign currency, when leaving Ukraine. Thus, the amount of foreign currency purchase may not prevail amount of foreign currency previously sold by every non-resident while in the territory of Ukraine. Yet Ukrainian bank employees may not realise that  some non-residents of Ukraine are foreign nationals and may hold foreign passports.

‘non-resident may need to present “certificate #377”

to bank for executing foreign currency transactions,

and to customs for proving goods purchase in Ukraine’

So it might be wide-spread – Bank- employees- misunderstanding-of-NBU-regulatin-application, but still regulation looked to be sound and imposed for non-resident own good… Until I did not check the background regulation. In 1995 NBU provided for “certificate #377” not only to be presented to bank for selling and urchasing back certain amount of foreign currency, but to be presented to customs when leaving Ukrainian territory with goods purchased in Ukraine. I wonder, what ment to be presented as a proof of a cash-in-hand-spent in farmers – market, or sex-tour?

And still/ There is no obligation for non-resident to present any document proving non-resident status, when selling foreign currency, if there is no need in seling back local currency and therefore, no “certificate #377” is required.

And I wonder where are the courses on distinguishing resident from non-resident by appearance? If a person is non-resident of Ukraine, but speaks fluent Russian/ Ukrainian language?


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