ZAHONY, HUNGARY, 20 APRIL 2004 —– Hungarian border police and customs officers oversee control of the Hungarian — Ukrainian border at Zahony, Hungary. Zahony is one of the biggest and busiest external borders in the European Union. (C) Photo: Mark H. Milstein/ Northfoto

Waiting 2 or 3 hours to cross the border towards Romania, Slovakia or Ukraine was not exceptional in the 90s. However, remarkable progress happened in the last few years in this regard thanks to the EU and Schengen. The only exception is Ukraine. According to, the situation escalated at the end of December during the holidays.

Border crossing should be modernised

In fact, border crossing time to Ukraine increased significantly in 2017. Firstly, Ukrainian citizens can travel to the EU without a visa since June. Thus, cross-border traffic has increased by 40%. Besides, according to the frontier guards, the control system is outdated. Finally, masses are working abroad who come home to celebrate with their families.

In case of Subcarpathia since the escalation of the Ukrainian crisis

thousands started to work abroad regardless of their nationality.

However, most of these guest workers travel home during the holidays. As a result, border crossing time has increased excessively before Christmas.

According to a man from Beregszász (Beregovo) working in the Czech Republic, his group waited 3 hours to cross the border in Beregsurány on the 23rd of December. ‘We did not advance a meter during that time, so we decided to cross the border by foot’ – he added. ‘I am going back next week, but I am sure that nothing will change’ – he stated sadly.

But the problem is not only caused by guest workers returning home during the holidays. Many blame the slowness of frontier guards for the long waiting times. However, they claim that even though they work as swift as possible,

the capacity of the border crossings is not enough.

According to Hennadiy Moskal, governor of Subcarpathia, the county needs at least 20 new border crossings. Moreover, eight of these should be on the Hungary-Ukraine border. Besides, six more border crossings need to be modernised and extended. However, they cannot carry out these projects alone. Even though Kiev promised help, nothing happened yet.

Ukraine needs help

The future is not promising. For example, the inauguration of the new border crossing in Nagypalád-Nagyhódos was changed from the spring of 2018 to the summer. However, locals would be grateful, if the checkpoint was opened until the end of the year. Hungary already completed the road and met the expenses to build the joint checkpoint. In contrast,

Ukraine could not even construct the road to the checkpoint so far.

According to some reports from the Slovakia-Ukraine and Poland-Ukraine border, Ukrainian authorities are blamed for the increased waiting time.

However, according to some Hungarian opposition parties, not only the Ukrainian authorities are blameful. For example, István Szávay, MP of Jobbik said that hundreds and thousands of Subcarpathian Hungarian families need to commute to Hungary for work, school or pharmacies. Therefore, an independent border guard service should be re-established in order to reduce waiting time. Besides, the Hungarian government should allocate more funds for guarding the Hungary-Ukraine border and

increase the number of officers in service there.

In fact, Ukraine has introduced a new system of biometric control for foreigners entering Ukraine as of January 1, 2018. Biometric monitoring systems will operate at 157 international border crossing points, including airports. According to the State Migration Service of Ukraine,  this will help to defend the country from Russia. Theoretically, this change should not cause any problems regarding the border crossing of EU-citizens. But locals say in this regard: ‘Do not count your chickens before they are hatched.’

Photo: (C) Mark H. Milstein/ Northfoto

Source:,, Daily News Hungary

1 comment
  1. Too many crooks. The Ukrainians are still acting like it’s 1965 with an Iron Curtain. Show the customs money and the wait time will speed up.

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