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How to bring a car for the Armed Forces without problems? Theory and practice


With the beginning of a full-scale invasion, there was a need for vehicles for the Armed Forces. Most cars are brought in used from abroad. The law provides for the simplified import of such cars, but in practice Ukrainians faced problems. There are even cases of opening criminal proceedings for violations during such a procedure. Volunteers, experts and representatives of the auto business explained what norms regulate the import of cars for the army, how to do it practically and without unnecessary problems.

According to the State Customs Service, from the beginning of the full-scale invasion until the beginning of December 2022, more than 60,000 vehicles were imported to Ukraine for the needs of the Armed Forces, charitable foundations and public organizations. At the same time, as noted by the CEO of the Institute of Car Market Research, Stanislav Buchatskyi, as of today, a complete, clearly described algorithm for the purchase and import of such cars has not been formed.

As a result, many volunteers do not really understand all the rules and procedures, there have even been cases of violations of criminal proceedings due to their non-compliance. "It is very difficult for law enforcement agencies to distinguish a fraudster who illegally earns from the sale of humanitarian aid from a person who simply did not prepare the correct set of documents for a car," says the expert.

What cars does the army need?

The Armed Forces of Ukraine have an urgent need for mobility, namely: they need vehicles that can drive off-road, have high cross-country ability and good maneuverability. These are, in particular, pickup trucks, SUVs (preferably four-wheel drive), minibuses and various special vehicles (ambulances, fire trucks, etc.).

What law allows importation as humanitarian aid?

As of today, the procedure for importing vehicles for the needs of the army is regulated by two main legal acts:

  • Law of Ukraine 1192-XIV "On Humanitarian Aid"
  • Resolution of March 1, 2022 No. 174 "Some issues of the passage of humanitarian aid through the customs border of Ukraine under martial law"

It is important to understand that cars imported under the simplified procedure in accordance with these documents are considered humanitarian aid, cannot be sold or used for personal needs, but must be used strictly for their intended purpose.

Where to find a car for the army?

They bring cars for the needs of the army mainly from European countries. Among others, it is worth highlighting Great Britain, said Yuliya Rykovska, executive director of the West Auto Hub company. Such cars, although with the right steering wheel, are cheaper and often in better technical condition.

They are looking for cars mainly on the Internet, on car sales sites, as well as at car commissions, auctions and in volunteer circles

What to pay attention to when choosing a car?

Since the beginning of the full-scale war, the NGO "Volyn Brotherhood of St. Volodymyr the Great", co-founded by the West Auto Hub company, has helped deliver more than 140 cars for the needs of the Ukrainian army. Having tried various options, it became obvious that it is better to buy one serviceable car that will definitely not let you down, than 3 cheapest ones, says Yuliya Rykovska.

And in general, the choice of transport for the Armed Forces is almost the same as the selection of an ordinary civilian car:

  • Is the price marketable?
  • Is there a technical inspection?
  • Is there a service history?
  • Is the mileage confirmed?
  • Is the seller verified, are there any reviews about him?
  • Is it possible to physically check the technical condition? Inspection at the time of purchase significantly saves on repairs.

Who can be a car buyer for the Armed Forces?

A physical person (conditional volunteer Vasyl) can buy a car, as well as a legal person — the conditional NGO "Peremoga". The military unit cannot be a direct buyer — only the final buyer of "humanitarian" cars.

How to pay for a car abroad?

There are two methods of paying for a car abroad: cash and bank transfer. The first is simpler and faster, but has several disadvantages: there is a limit on the import of cash into the territory of the European Union (no more than 10 thousand euros per person), and in this case it is difficult to confirm the fact of payment and report to donors.

The second method also has both pros and cons. For example, if the car is paid for by an individual, there is a limit on the amount of the transfer. If the payer is a legal entity, then this requires a large number of documents, signed contracts with sellers, to which all sellers agree. Among the pluses, it is possible to buy currency at the official rate of the National Bank, as well as to buy a car without paying VAT, which is an opportunity to save more than 20% of the cost of the car.

Who can pick up the car?

In the conditions of martial law, when travel abroad is limited, there are categories that can move freely between countries: women, pensioners, men with many children, the disabled, etc.

Also, official carriers who have a permit for cargo transportation, as well as volunteer representatives of organizations who have an application in the "Shlyah" system, have the right to go abroad.

How can I bring a car?

You can bring a car for the Armed Forces both on your own and using a carriage or car transporter. Each of the options also has its own nuances.

Self-transportation: sometimes cheaper, but the car must be in good condition, you need valid insurance, technical inspection, you often need to buy transit license plates. In the absence of any of the above, there is a greater risk of being fined when crossing the border.

If the car is transported by carriage or truck, the total cost is often the same as in the case of self-delivery. Especially if it is several cars. At the same time, there is no need to spend time at the border in person, buy insurance, transit license plates and have a valid technical inspection. And the car will definitely not break down on the way.

What documents should I prepare before crossing the border?

The list of documents changes depending on the country and the situation, you need to check it every time, says Levko Prokipchuk, an expert on the practical application of customs legislation of the Association of Professional Customs Brokers, former head of Lviv Customs and a volunteer who independently transports cars for the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Usually, when buying a car in Europe, you need a standard package of documents:

  • certificate of registration;
  • contract of sale;
  • export declaration EX.

At the same time, if the car is deregistered in an EU country and costs more than 1,000 euros, or if the car is transported by a carriage or a car carrier, an export declaration, which can be prepared by a broker in the EU, is mandatory.

It is also desirable to have a letter of guarantee from a charitable foundation, public organization or military unit. Such a document is not mandatory for importing a vehicle as humanitarian aid, but it will reduce the number of questions: customs and border guards will know for sure that the car is being imported for its intended purpose. In addition, although such a letter is not guaranteed, it can help to negotiate a way out of the queue even on the Polish side, the expert says.

Which checkpoint should I go to?

As of today, checkpoints are divided by the total mass of vehicles. Cars weighing less than 7.5 tons must cross the border at smaller checkpoints that have joint control with the European side: Smilnytsia, Hrushiv and Ughryniv in the Lviv region; Ustilug in Volynska and Maly Berezny in Zakarpattia and others.

Instead, trucks, buses and other vehicles with a total weight of more than 7.5 tons are sent to the larger checkpoints: Shehyny, Krakovets, Rava-Ruska (Lviv region), Yagodyn (Volyn region), Uzhhorod (Transcarpathian region) and others.

In practice, it often happens that cars for the Armed Forces are brought through any checkpoint. Therefore, Levko Prokipchuk advises, it is best to choose the checkpoint where the queue is shorter.

What to do at the EU border?

If you are transporting the car yourself, if it is not deregistered, you can leave the territory of the European Union through the "green corridor", thus reducing the waiting time in the queue.

In all other cases, you need to choose the "red" corridor — the one where goods are processed and "trucks" are parked. At the same time, cars for the Armed Forces are not always allowed out of line — because the so-called "human factor" comes into play. "If it was not possible to find an understanding with the employee of the Polish border service, he did not believe you and refused to let the car for the Armed Forces pass without waiting in line, you should try to negotiate with the Ukrainians standing in line. In most cases, they will let you through, " recommends Levko Prokipchuk.

And a little life hack: cars are different, so before crossing the border you should ask how the hood opens and where the VIN code or frame number is located. The border guards will probably check it.

What to do at the border in Ukraine

Until recently, the registration of a car for the Armed Forces on the Ukrainian side was simple and did not require special knowledge. It was enough to fill out the customs declaration on the import of humanitarian aid in a simplified form: specify the data of the driver, the car and its recipient. It was possible to do this both on the spot "by hand" in paper form, and electronically in advance — for example, waiting in line in front of the checkpoint.

From December 1, 2023, the rules for importing humanitarian aid have changed . You can read more about these changes here .

Who can apply for a car as humanitarian aid?

In order for the car to be registered as humanitarian aid, its recipient should only be a charitable foundation, public organization, military unit, fire department, medical institution, etc.At the same time, in accordance with the changes that came into effect on December 1, 2023, NGOs or foundations can no longer bring cars for their own use, but only for further transfer to the Armed Forces, which must be indicated in the customs declaration. You can read more about it here .

If the recipient is an individual or a private enterprise or LLC, all customs fees will have to be paid, which in most cases simply does not make any economic sense.

Who can I transfer the car to?

Until recently, if the car was issued to a public organization or a charitable foundation, they decided what to do with it next, in accordance with their charter. From December 1, 2023, imported "humanitarian" goods can no longer be used for the organizationʼs own needs . Now GO and BF are obliged within 90 days to hand over the car to any military unit that has asked for help . If the adopted draft law 9111 comes to fruition, the car will be able to be transferred to a specific person (fighter) who needs a car to perform military tasks. More details here .

If the vehicle was imported directly to the military unit, then it must be handed over exclusively to it. It is there that they will take this car for military registration and carry out departmental registration.

And in any case, under no circumstances, it is forbidden to sell such vehicles.

How to transfer a car correctly?

In order to protect yourself from possible problems in the future, you need to complete all the documents correctly. So, if the car was imported to a public organization or charitable foundation, you need to take care of two main documents:

  • a request letter to the organization for the transfer of such a vehicle;
  • act of receiving and handing over the car.

Then, in case of questions from control services or law enforcement agencies regarding the intended use of a car imported as humanitarian aid, you will have all the necessary arguments.

Also, if necessary, the car can be temporarily registered at the Service Center before handing over.

A step-by-step algorithm for buying a car for the Armed Forces

  1. Find a car abroad
  2. Choose a purchase and payment option
  3. Draw up a sales contract and pay for the car
  4. Prepare export documentation
  5. Arrange delivery
  6. Prepare a letter of guarantee from a military unit or a charitable foundation or public organization
  7. Prepare a customs declaration in Ukraine
  8. If the car is imported to the organization, a request letter from the military unit for the transfer of the car
  9. If desired, temporarily register the car at the Service Center of the Ministry of Internal Affairs
  10. Prepare an act of acceptance and transfer of the car

You can donate a car for the Armed Forces here:

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