Which mobile operator in Ukraine should you choose?

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To stay connected is one of the most vital issues while travelling, especially when you travel to the countries outside the EU and EEA zone. In countries like Ukraine, your roaming fees might exceed your monthly income if you don’t care about it or if you don’t have a special plan. So, while Ukraine is not yet part of the European Union or cooperates with other EU countries in terms of European roaming, we recommend you to purchase a Ukrainian SIM card from one of the local mobile operators.

The Ukrainian mobile market is not as diverse as it seems. Overall, there are three large-scale GSM-based mobile providers that offer an extensive mobile network coverage and a stable 3G connection. Those are Kyivstar, Vodafone and Lifecell. In general, each company offers rather cheap tariff plans that include unlimited free calls to other participants of the same network, fixed number of free SMS and data limits. In addition, both prepaid and contract plans are available, so you will surely manage to choose the one that suits you best.

Mobile Operator in Ukraine #1: Kyivstar

This is by far the biggest mobile operator in Ukraine that occupies almost 50% of the local mobile communication market. All Ukrainian cities and the majority of villages (excluding the territories of the occupied Crimea and Eastern Ukraine) have a stable 3G connection, so you will manage to use online apps and messengers without any problem. Moreover, in the mid January 2018 the company finally announced the introduction of the 4G (LTE-based) mobile network which is planned to gradually cover the whole country within the following months.
By the way, as a Kyivstar customer, you will get a free unlimited access to the company’s exclusive messenger Veon allowing you to stay in touch with your close ones 24/7. Unfortunately, the app is only available in Ukrainian and Russian versions.

Default Rates of Kyivstar

As a rule, Kyivstar charges its subscribers for data usage, sms delivery and all types of calls except for those made within their own network. Basic rates are the following:
50 MB of data – 5 UAH (you can activate up to 5 such packages a day)
Calls in Kyivstar network – free
Calls to other local providers – 0,60 UAH/min (+ 2 UAH for connection)
Calls to landline phones – 1,50 UAH/min (+ 2 UAH for connection)
Foreign calls – start at 2 UAH/min
SMS to local numbers – 0,50 UAH
SMS to foreign numbers – starting at 1 UAH

Tariffs and plans

Pre-paid Kyivstar plans include:

Unlimited Talks+ (45 UAH/month)

  • Unlimited calls within Kyivstar network
  • Free data limit – 500 MB
  • 50 min to other networks
  • Veon app data and message limit – unlimited
  • Also, an unlimited traffic for 4 online services, incl. Wikipedia

Unlimited Social Nets+ (60 UAH/month)

  • Unlimited calls within Kyivstar network
  • Free data limit – 3000 МB
  • 100 min to other networks
  • Veon app usage – free
  • Unlimited traffic for 6 online services, incl. Wikipedia, Facebook and Twitter

Unlimited Video Talks+ (90 UAH/month)

  • Unlimited calls within Kyivstar network
  • Free data limit – 5000 МB
  • 200 min to other networks
  • 200 SMS (via Veon app – free)
  • Unlimited traffic for 12 online services, including Wikipedia, Youtube, Twitter and Facebook

Maximum Unlimited+ (135 UAH/month)

  • Unlimited calls within Kyivstar network
  • Unlimited mobile internet
  • 300 min to other networks
  • 300 SMS (free with Veon)
  • Extra SIM-card for mobile data – has the same number as the main SIM-card

Contract plans are not of great use to short-stay travellers, so we will only mention that their cost varies from 90 UAH up to 1000 UAH, and they provide customers with an unlimited traffic, 200 to 4000 free SMS, 200 to 4000 min calls to other local networks, but also 50 to 100 min calls to foreign numbers. You can find more information on contract plans here.

Mobile Operator in Ukraine #2: Vodafone

Vodafone is the second largest mobile provider in Ukraine that competes with Kyivstar for the championship on the local market. Previously called MTS Ukraine and owned by the Russian corporation, the company switched to the Vodafone brand in 2015 and started providing their own 3G coverage. Vodafone cards are sold everywhere in the country, including the main streets of big cities. For a small charge, a Vodafone agent will help you activate, set up or top up a new SIM-card.

Default Rates

Calls within Vodafone network an to other local providers – 0,50 UAH/min
Excess mobile data fee – 15 UAH for 500 MB
SMS to local numbers – 0,50 UAH
Calls to foreign numbers – 10 UAH/min
SMS to foreign numbers – 3 UAH
An additional fee of 2 UAH is charged daily regardless of usage.

Tariffs and plans for Vodafone

Currently, Vodafone offers four different prepaid plans:

Vodafone Light+ (40 UAH/month)

  • Unlimited calls within Vodafone network
  • Free data limit – 500 MB
  • 30 min to other providers
  • Calls to foreign numbers – 3 UAH/min
  • 50 free SMS a day – 1,50 UAH (above that – 0,50 UAH per SMS)

Vodafone Device

  • S (45 UAH): 50 MB/day, 50 min/day (within Vodafone network), calls to other local networks – 0,50 UAH/min, 50 SMS/day, calls to foreign numbers – 10 UAH, SMS to foreign numbers – 3 UAH/min.
  • M (50 UAH): 5 GB (+ 2 GB for the first month of usage)/month, unlimited access to major social networks, calls to all local networks incl. Vodafone numbers – 0,50 UAH/min, SMS to all Ukrainian numbers – 0,50 UAH, calls to foreign numbers – 10 UAH, SMS to foreign numbers – 3 UAH/min.
  • L(90 UAH): 10 GB/month, unlimited access to major social networks, calls to all local networks incl. Vodafone numbers – 0,50 UAH/min, SMS to all Ukrainian numbers – 0,50 UAH, calls to foreign numbers – 10 UAH, SMS to foreign numbers – 3 UAH/min.

Vodafone Red

  • XS (50 UAH): Unlimited calls within Vodafone network, 2 GB/month (used for accessing social networks as well), 60 min to other networks, 50 SMS/day for 1,50 UAH (within Ukraine),
  • S (70 UAH): Unlimited calls within Vodafone network, 4 GB/month, unlimited access to major social networks, 75 min to other networks, 50 SMS/day for 1,50 UAH (within Ukraine),
  • M (110 UAH): Unlimited calls within Vodafone network, 8 GB/month, unlimited access to major social networks, 250 min to other networks, 70 SMS/day for 1,50 UAH (within Ukraine)
  • L (180 UAH): Unlimited calls within Vodafone network, 12 GB/month,unlimited access to major social networks, 300 min to other networks, 150 SMS/day for 1,50 UAH (within Ukraine).
    In addition, you will be charged 5 UAH for every 100 MB of excess data.

Vodafone Unlimited (75 UAH/month)

  • Unlimited calls within Vodafone network
  • Unlimited mobile Internet
  • 100 min to other providers
  • SMS to all providers, incl. Vodafone – 0,20 UAH
  • Calls to foreign numbers – 1 UAH/min
  • SMS to foreign numbers – 0,50 UAH
  • You might be wondering, what apps are included to the Vodafone’s unlimited data use. Those are the messengers WhatsApp and Viber (only texting is for free) and social networks: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

For an additional information, visit Vodafone Ukraine’s official website.

Mobile Operator in Ukraine #3: Lifecell

Lifecell is the third biggest mobile operator in Ukraine after Kyivstar and Vodafone which is owned by Turkish mobile operator Turkcell. There are almost 200 official Lifecell stores in Ukraine and more than 12 million active network subscribers. Lifecell has a relatively lower 2G/3G coverage, although it is present in all major cities and villages of Ukraine. Their start SIM-card packages only cost 15 UAH and are sold as widely as the other provider’s cards, so there will be no problem finding it anywhere in Ukraine.

Default Rates

Calls within Lifecell network – 5 UAH for 20 minutes for 5 days
Limited access to the mobile Internet
SMS to all Ukrainian networks, incl. Lifecell – 2 UAH for 100 SMS/day
Calls to foreign numbers – starting at 0,80 UAH/min
An additional fee of 3 UAH is charged daily if the prepaid plan is not activated.

Tariffs and Plans

Absolute Freedom (75 UAH/month)

  • 750 min to all networks within Ukraine, incl. Lifecell
  • 2 GB data limit
  • Unlimited access to popular social networks

Optimal Smartphone (50 UAH/month)

  • Unlimited calls within Lifecell network
  • 3 GB data limit
  • 80 min to other networks
  • 80 SMS
  • Unlimited access to popular social networks

3G + freedom (60 UAH/month)

  • 750 min to all networks within Ukraine, incl. Lifecell
  • 2 GB data limit
  • Unlimited access to popular social networks

For other plans, see Lifecell’s official tariff list.

Lifecell also provides an unusual offer (as part of some of its packages) which allows you to exchange unused free minutes to the mobile data traffic. For instance, you can exchange 200 minutes to 1 GB of data.

Where to buy a SIM-Card in Ukraine

There is nothing easier than buying a sim-card in Ukraine, because these cards are sold literally EVERYWHERE. But the most convenient spots can be found at airports, railway stations and official operator service centers. The latter option is even more preferable, as service center staff will additionally consult you on the best suitable plan and help you activate it on your phone in no time.
If you decided to buy a phone card specifically at a local operator store, you can use providers’ websites to find the most suitable location before you make an actual visit:

Locations of Ukrainian mobile operators in Lviv

For Lviv guests, we offer a few mobile provider stores that can be found in the vicinity of the railway station and in the city center itself:

Kyivstar

  • Svobody Ave. 11 (close to the Opera Theater)
  • Horodocka St. 159 (close to the Railway station)
  • Valova St. 11 (city center area)
  • Teatralna St. (next to the Latin Cathedral)

Vodafone

  • Chernivetska St. 13 (close to the Railway station)
  • Doroshenko St. 2 (opposite to the shop “Sekundochka”)
  • Shevchenko Ave. 24 (city center area)

Lifecell

  • Svobody Ave. 6/8 (close to the city center)
  • Knyazya Romana St. 2 (city center area)
  • Horodocka St. 137 (close to the Railway station)
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This Post Has 19 Comments

  1. Hi,
    Thanks for info.
    Do any of these allow roaming so can use in Moldova or will I need to get a Moldovan sim?
    Not big deal and I can check it out when buy one but if you know in advance if one does and one doesn’t I’d be handy.
    Cheers

    1. Hey there!
      Basically, each provider from the list allows its own roaming services and rates. If talking about Moldova,
      Kyivstar will charge you: 2 UAH for calls per min, 0,35 UAH for 1 MB of data and 1 UAH per SMS.

      Vodafone: 2 UAH/min for incoming calls and for outgoing calls to Ukrainian Vodafone numbers; 10 UAH/min for other calls to Ukraine and Europe; 35-50 UAH/100 MB (depending on your original package); 1,50 UAH/SMS; 50 UAH to other numbers of the world. You should also note that Vodafone does have specialized roaming packages (~60 UAH for 3 days and much cheaper rates for all of the services as a result) to the countries of the 1-st and 2-nd European zones. However, Moldova is not included in any of those, so you will only have to deal with standard Vodafone roaming rates.

      Lifecell: Offers daily roaming service packages. If we’re talking about Moldova, they will charge you 45 UAH for 10 min calls, 55 UAH for 100 MB of data, and 20 UAH for 15 SMS – all available for 24 hours. The next day you will have to pay the same money again.

  2. Hi. Possible to buy prepaid card at airport?

    1. Hi, Marek!
      Yes, you can buy a prepaid sim-card there – all sim-card sales points are located on the first floor of the airport.

  3. hi. do i need an unlocked uk phone to take. or will a provider locked phone work ? might just but an unlocked phone and sell on my return

    1. Dear Sean,
      I assume you will need an unlocked phone, as probably it will be locked for all sim cards except the one of your provider. That will work for sure. With a locked one I am not sure but would assume that it won’t be working.
      All the best from Lviv
      Peter

  4. I will be visiting in the City of LVIV from July 3 ~ 12, 2018. Do providers offer a Data only package? Planning on using only Google routing info or similar for sight seeing, and use of phone is minimal/or not required.
    Thanks,

    1. Hi Larry!

      All mobile operators in Ukraine have all-in-one packages, the only difference is the volume of free units (minutes, sms, data) to use. So basically, you can take, say, an all-in-one package for 75 UAH which includes 3GB of mobile data from Kyivstar, which will be enough for the sightseeing purposes. Of course, free sms and calls will not be used and will eventually perish, but for 75 UAH it’s still a pretty nice option. Here are three possible packages from Kyivstar with reasonable data volume:
      https://kyivstar.ua/en/mm/mobile-internet

      1. That’s what I need, Thank You, What does $75 UAH equate to in Canadian or US dollars, approx?

        1. It’s about 3 US dollars, not more than that.

  5. WOW, what a deal, Thanks again!

    1. Just completing visit in LVIV. Airport has currency exchange office on main floor, at exit. Best deal offered was Lifecell 7gb for 100uah (5:00 CAD). Easy connect on 3 separate devices ($5.00 * 3), 2 iPhones, 1 iPad. 3G in all places, 4G/LTE around city center. Great for finding obscure sites, and UBER transportation. Only problem was my iPad. Ran out of gb’s too soon. Thank you for your advice and help.

  6. hi what plan is best to have with portable 4g/3g router?
    I see these “unlimited mobile internet” plans but are they just for social networking?

    I am planning to stay in Ukraine for 3 weeks so I need decent internet plan for that period.

  7. my internet usage is very much,so can you tell me the best network in terms of internet usage and speed??

    1. I use Kyivstar and I am quite happy with it!

  8. Hi,

    Does (eg) Vodafone allow you to set up the SIM card in English? Are the instructions etc in English?

    Or is it simply a case of inserting the SIM card and off you go?

    1. They will usually assist you with it, if you go to the shop.

  9. Just bought a Lifecell SIM card with 20gbdata and 150 minutes for 150 uah (about 6 euro). Fair deal.

  10. In Borispil airport kievstar was suggested as the ONLY option, by seller at first floor. But they wanted 315 UHA for this zim card. Did they fool me?
    If they did, i will ask them why, when i fly home to Sweden 29 August

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