Decoding Ukraine’s Law on Citizens’ Exit Rights

Under Article 313 of the Civil Code of Ukraine, it is provided that an individual has the right to freedom of movement. An individual who has reached the age of sixteen has the right to freely and independently depart from the territory of Ukraine. An individual’s right to movement can only be restricted in cases established by law.
The Preamble of the Law of Ukraine No. 3857-XII dated January 21, 1994, “On the Procedure for Departure from Ukraine and Entry into Ukraine of Ukrainian Citizens,” states:

“This Law regulates the procedure for exercising the right of Ukrainian citizens to depart from Ukraine and enter Ukraine, the procedure for processing documents for foreign travel, determines the cases of temporary restriction of citizens’ right to depart from Ukraine, and establishes the procedure for resolving disputes in this sphere.”
Article 1 of the Law establishes that a citizen of Ukraine has the right to depart from Ukraine, except in cases provided for by this Law, and to enter Ukraine.
Thus, the above provision establishes that only this Law, and not any other normative legal act (presidential decree, government resolutions, other laws, directives, and letters from the head of the border service, security service, etc.), may establish cases in which a citizen of Ukraine does not have the right to depart from Ukraine.
Such restrictions are specified in Article 6 of the Law of Ukraine on the Procedure for Departure from Ukraine and Entry into Ukraine of Ukrainian Citizens, which sets forth exclusive grounds for temporary restriction of the right of Ukrainian citizens to depart from Ukraine.
Accordingly, the right of a Ukrainian citizen to depart from Ukraine can be temporarily restricted only in 6 cases:
1. If they are privy to information constituting a state secret, until the expiration of the term set by Article 12 of this Law;
2. If a measure of restraint is applied to them in accordance with criminal procedural legislation, under the terms of which they are prohibited from traveling abroad, until the end of the criminal proceedings or the lifting of the respective restrictions;
3. If they are convicted of committing a criminal offense, until serving the sentence or being released from the punishment;
4. If they are evading the fulfillment of obligations imposed by a court decision or decision of other bodies (officials) subject to mandatory enforcement under the law, until fulfilling the obligations or paying off the debt on alimony payments;
5. If they are under administrative supervision of the National Police, until the termination of such supervision;
6. If they are a leader of a legal entity or a permanent establishment of a non-resident (according to information from the Unified State Register, provided in accordance with the Law of Ukraine “On State Registration of Legal Entities, Individual Entrepreneurs, and Public Formations”), not fulfilling the tax obligation to pay financial obligations as established by the Tax Code of Ukraine, which led to the emergence of a tax debt exceeding 1 million hryvnias for such a legal entity or permanent establishment of a non-resident, and if such tax debt is not paid within 240 calendar days from the day of delivery of the tax demand to the taxpayer, until the payment of such tax debt, in connection with which such restriction is established.
Thus, the analysis of these legislative provisions indicates the existence of a significant range of grounds for restricting freedom of movement and fairly broad discretionary powers of state authorities and their officials on these matters.
Moreover, this article has been edited before, meaning changes have been made to it. Despite the prohibition of such manipulations with the establishment of additional restrictions on human rights, this law was adopted before the adoption of the Constitution, and accordingly, citizens’ rights to restrictions on departure from the country cannot be narrowed as long as the Constitution of Ukraine exists and Ukraine exists as a country.


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