The good: At last – you can buy your Russian green card on the Ukranian side of the border, AND, for once we had roubles with us that we bought from the UK!
The bad: CIS customs forms – repeated failed attempts to fill them in correctly cost us over an hour and my sanity
Leaving Ukraine was easy – although they took the medicines box away for a thorough search.
At the gates we were given entry forms and then told to reverse 50 yards to fill them in, before driving back up to the gates again.
Passport control booths have mirrored glass and a sliding metal drawer beneath the window that you (very carefully) drop your documents in.
This drawer also contains the severed fingers of travellers who took several microseconds too long to hand over their documents.
As we could not see and could barely hear the commands from inside the booth the frustrated guard kept having to open the door and come out to verify requests.
Moving on to customs I (as driver) was given two Russlish forms to fill out.
Up until this point in my life I had considered myself a reasonably intelligent and capable adult – and the forms are expressly designed to prove otherwise.
- Mistakes can not be corrected.
- Oh no. You have to fill out both forms again and again.
- Each error is discovered one at a time.
- After each error the forms are re-submitted, until the next error is found.
- The form must contain what the official wants – not what the form asks for.
- You do not know what the official wants.
- Forms are to be completed under the glare of the official – who has assumed the role of examination invigilator.
- You have assumed the role of idiot.
1. Ticking one form for entry and one form for departure (both should have been entry).
2. Despite asking for a currency declaration, they did not want to know. They made me re-submit with this section blank.
3. For “Exiting” I put “Ukraine” and “Entering” I put “Russia”. I can’t remember what they wanted by this point. I had lost higher mammalian cognitive function and was starting to dribble a bit.
4. Giving my vehicle a value (should have left this blank)
5. The box immediately prior to your signature (helpfully marked “__”) is for the date. Not your printed name.
The form was stamped, given a QR code sticker and validated for three months. One copy they kept, we carried the other until it was pinched by Kazakh customs a month later.
Road tax is not required. The large English signs detailing road tax are for lorry drivers only. To be fair this is quite clear if you read the sign properly but please remember I was barely functioning at this point.
Repeatedly pointing at the sign and asking everyone where I should pay just confirmed me as an object to be pitied.
Cheryl assumed driving and all adult responsibilities at this point and I just wept quietly in the passenger seat. Despite my efforts the whole process took just over two hours.