Ukraine Currency Exchange Guide

Get ready to immerse yourself in Ukrainian culture while enjoying eclectic cuisine commissioned by centuries-old cooking traditions. Whether strolling along grand boulevards or visiting castles built during medieval times, your journey through Ukraine will be packed with inspiring sights and activities begging to discover. And if all that exploring makes you hungry — no worries. There is plenty of local food to load up on and take in the flavours Ukrainian recipes are renowned for. Explore Ukraine now for an unforgettable travel experience that will stay with you forever!

General Ukraine Currency Information

What is the currency of Ukraine?

The official currency of Ukraine is the Ukraine hryvnia (UAH)

What do Ukrainian notes & coins look like?

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Ukrainian notes represent important figures in Ukrainian history and remarkable landmarks. On the obverse, banknotes ranging from 1 Hryvnia to 1000 Hryvnias feature several renowned figures such as Vladimir Vernadsky, Taras Shevchenko, Mykhailo Hrusheskyi, and Yaroslav the Wise. On the reverse of each denomination, stunning edifices from around Ukraine are depicted, including the Gate Tower of Lutsk Castle, The Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, the Assumption Cathedral of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra Monastery, and more. Captured in vibrant colours that pay homage to the nation’s vivid past and present culture on paper, money immortalises Ukraine’s rich history and enduring legacy.

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Ukrainian coins prominently feature their value, the Coat of Arms of Ukraine, and decorative ornaments. The 10-hryvnia coin features General Ivan Mazepa on the reverse, and the 5-hryvnia coin features Bohdan Khmelnytsky. The 2-hryvnia has Yaroslav the Wise, while Volodymyr the Great is seen on the 1-hryvnia coin. The 50-kopiyka and 10-kopiyka both have a Ukrainian Trident image on their reverse but without any portrait, whereas their obverse features only their value and ornaments. Ukrainian coins successfully capture prominent figures from their nation’s history along with culturally significant idioms that make every piece unique.

Economy

The Ukrainian economy achieved a solid 3.2% growth in 2019, supported by an expansive agricultural sector and increased domestic consumption. Household consumption spiked at 11.9% due to remittance inflows and the return of consumer lending, while the trade and agriculture sectors experienced 3.4% and 1.3% growth, respectively. However, this economic success was stifled in 2020 with the onset of COVID-19, causing Ukraine to suffer a 4.4% drop in GDP. The IMF has warned that with continued unrest from the Russian invasion in 2022, there could be up to a 35% shrinkage in Ukraine’s economy.

Brief currency history

The history of the hryvnia, Ukraine’s legal tender, can be traced back to the 8th and 9th centuries when it was used as a unit of weight and for counting during trading and paying tributes. Initially, the name for this currency was derived from the word ‘hryvnia’, which meant a decorative item worn at the nape of the neck in Kyiv Rus times. 

The establishment of a national currency was crucial to the formation of an independent Ukrainian state during the years 1917-1921 when the country fought for its freedom.

The Kyiv branch of the Russian State Bank was officially recognised as the state bank of Ukraine by a law enacted by the Central Council on 22 December 1917. The bank, headed by Mykhailo Kryvetskyi, was instrumental in the development of the country when, on January 5, 1918, it issued a 100 karbovanets currency.

On the 1st of March 1918, the Central Council passed legislation establishing the hryvnia as the primary unit of currency; it consisted of 100 shahs and was worth half a karbovanet. In April 1918, Pavlo Skoropadsky overturned this judgement and reintroduced the karbovanets as the primary tender. The effigy of the Hetman was printed on banknotes in denominations of 10, 25, 50, 100, 250, and 1,000 karbovanets.

With the overthrow of his dictatorship and the advent of the Directorate led by Volodymyr Vynnychenko and Symon Petliura in December 1918, the hryvnia was reinstated as the country’s official currency. Between 1917 and 1921, 24 distinct paper banknotes were introduced into circulation during this turbulent time.

On January 10, 1992, the government took the first steps towards establishing its own currency by releasing reusable vouchers into circulation. As a result, on November 12, 1992, the Ukrainian karbovanet was officially recognised as currency across Ukraine.

The final push to full independence came with a currency reform in 1996, the introduction of the hryvnia as Ukraine’s national currency. The National Bank of Ukraine issued the first banknotes, 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 hryvnias, for general circulation.

Symbolically, this new currency was marked with a cursive Cyrillic letter г similar to a mirrored letter S with a double horizontal stroke, known as the hryvnia sign, symbolizing stability and progress moving forward, a sentiment that many Ukrainians embraced. What began as a symbol of promise has opened new opportunities for commerce and investment both within Ukraine and beyond its borders.

 

Taking Travel Money to Ukraine

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What currency should I take to Ukraine?

If you’re travelling to Ukraine, you’ll need to exchange your Australian dollar (AUD) for Ukrainian hryvnia (UAH) before you leave.

Is it better to convert currency in Australia or Ukraine?

When travelling from Australia to Ukraine, it is definitely more practical to convert your Australian dollars into Ukrainian hryvnias in Australia. This will allow you to plan and budget better for your upcoming trip and will provide you with access to the funds right away. You won’t have to worry about exchanging money once you arrive in Ukraine, which can often take time and cause a disruption at the start of your travels. Converting currency before your journey can make all the difference so you can begin your trip stress-free!

How much cash can I take to Ukraine?

You can bring up to $10,000 in cash, but if it is over $1,000, it must be declared in writing. If you need more than $10,000, then you will need to obtain a form from the National Bank of Ukraine before entering the country. Be sure to keep your entry declaration with you, as any cash above what was declared may be seized by customs officials. Additionally, the export of local currency out of Ukraine is limited to ₴85. Keeping these guidelines in mind will ensure a smoother experience when during your time abroad.

Where to convert currency?

If you’re looking for the highest quality foreign exchange services with the best exchange rate in Australia, Crown Currency Exchange is the perfect choice. With nearly 20 years of experience, our friendly team are dedicated to ensuring you get the best exchange rates available with no hidden fees or commissions. Not only that, but our rates are highly competitive too. Adding to your convenience, we have 50 stores located across Australia, so wherever you are, a local branch won’t be too far away.

Is tipping customary in Ukraine? How much is expected?

Whether you are visiting Ukraine for business or pleasure, it is important to understand the tipping customs of the country, as this can be an area that causes confusion. Knowing when and how much to tip can help ensure you are respectful of local customs while still rewarding friendly service. Let’s take a look at what is customary in Ukraine. Here are some general guidelines on tipping in Ukraine:

Hotels: If a hotel includes a service charge on your bill, then no additional tip is expected. However, if you received particularly excellent service from staff during your stay, you may wish to leave an additional tip in recognition of their efforts 

Restaurants: Tipping isn’t part of the culture in Ukraine, but some restaurants may expect tips from tourists. If you would like to show your appreciation for good service, tipping around 10% is considered appropriate 

Spas: If you visit a spa in Ukraine and receive satisfactory service, a tip of around 10% of the cost of your treatment will be appreciated by the therapist. You can either tip directly or via reception when paying for your treatment 

Tour Guide: A tour guide who has provided helpful and informative services throughout your stay should be rewarded with a tip equivalent to $15 – $20 per day per person. This will demonstrate gratitude for their efforts while also providing them with extra compensation for their time and knowledge shared with you throughout your travels in Ukraine.

Taxi Drivers: Tipping taxi drivers isn’t required in Ukraine, however, if you feel like you had a great ride and would like to show your appreciation with a tip, then that’s okay too! A simple round-up of the fare will usually suffice. It isn’t necessary to add a percentage on top of the fare as tips.

Can you bargain in Ukraine?

Bargaining is common in Ukraine, and it can be an enjoyable part of the shopping experience. While bargaining can be used in most stores, it is more frequently found in markets, especially open-air markets. There, you can often negotiate with the vendor to get a lower price or find the best deal on certain products like food, clothing or household items.

What is ATM access like in Ukraine?

Automated teller machines (ATMs) are commonplace in major cities throughout Ukraine, offering convenient access to cash. Credit cards have been widely adopted, particularly in larger towns and cities, and are accepted at a variety of outlets. However, as a result of the ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russia, ATMs may not always be stocked due to issues involving cash supply chains.

What should you budget per day?

Budget

To travel to Ukraine on a budget, we would suggest allowing ₴880-980 (AUD $36-40) per day. Accommodations such as staying in hostel dorms will help to keep costs low, while you can save on meals by preparing them yourself. Taking advantage of the range of free activities like walking tours and hikes available is also a great way to stretch your budget further. Visiting more economical attractions such as museums or galleries is another viable option. Finally, make use of local transportation to cut down on transport costs.

Moderate

aiming for a moderate budget of around ₴2,500-2,700 (AUD $102-110) per day will provide ample opportunity to experience the local culture. Accommodation can range from budget-friendly hotels to Airbnb, while meals out might well be the highlight of any stay as traditional cuisine is affordable and highly tasty. Taking advantage of guided tours will show off its best sites, while taxis and public transport are straightforward avenues for getting around. And for the truly adventurous traveller, a tour of Chernobyl will surely make for an unforgettable journey.

Luxury

For those who wish to travel to Ukraine and have a luxury stay, then budgeting of at least ₴5,000 (AUD $203) or more per day is recommended. With that amount, you can comfortably stay in a hotel, have the option to explore any restaurant, take taxis or rent a car, enjoy higher-end guided tours, and partake in all your favourite activities while in the country, such as skiing, taking domestic flights within Ukraine, visiting various castles and museums. The possibilities for luxury are nearly endless when travelling in Ukraine with a generous budget.

Currency details

Currency:

Ukrainian hryvnia

Currency code:

UAH

Currency symbol:

Central bank:

National Bank of Ukraine

Nickname:

None

Currency sub-unit:

Kopiyka = 1/100 of a Hryvnia

Bank notes:

1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 hryven

Coins:

10, 50 kopiyok, 1, 2, 5, 10 hryven

Must-do's while you are in Ukraine

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1. See the Sights of Kyiv

No trip to Ukraine would only be complete with visiting the capital city of Kyiv. This bustling metropolis is home to many incredible sights and attractions, including the Golden Gate, St Sophia’s Cathedral and the Chernobyl Museum. Be sure to take some time out of your day to explore these iconic landmarks. 

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2. Climb the Motherland Monument

The Motherland Monument is one of the most recognisable landmarks in Kyiv and offers breathtaking views over the city from its perch atop a hill near the Dnieper River. Take some time to climb this impressive structure and enjoy stunning panoramic views from its summit. 

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3. Take a Stroll down Deribasovskaya Street

Odessa’s famous Deribasovskaya Street has been charming visitors since the early 19th century when Governor Jose de Ribas first laid it down as his personal promenade for evening strolls! Today, it remains one of Odessa’s main attractions, with its numerous cafes, shops and markets that make it an ideal spot for shopping or people-watching.

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4. Visit Lviv’s Old Town

Lviv’s old town is full of charm with its narrow cobbled streets lined with Gothic churches, quaint restaurants and picturesque homes that have been standing for centuries! Be sure not to miss this beautiful destination during your stay in Ukraine – you won’t regret it.

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5. Enjoy Traditional Cuisine

Last but certainly not least on our list is indulging in some traditional Ukrainian cuisine! From borscht (beet soup) or varenyky (dumplings stuffed with potatoes or cheese), plenty of delectable dishes will tantalise your taste buds! Be sure not to miss out on trying some local dishes during your stay in Ukraine – you won’t be disappointed.

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