Rada passes language law mandating the translation of software and sites into Ukrainian

On April 25, 2019, Ukraine’s parliament passed the draft law “On Ensuring the Functioning of the Ukrainian Language as a State Language” during the second reading. If the draft law is signed by the president, online businesses and software developers will have to comply with the new requirements to their products. The draft law was passed with 278 yay votes.

Essentially, all regulations concerning the Ukrainian language online are laid out in article 27 of the draft law named “A state language in the sphere of user interfaces of computer programs and websites.” Regulations pertaining to online business are also contained in article 30 “A state language in the sphere of consumer services.”

Regulations contained in the draft law prescribe the following for software developers:

For website owners:

  • Websites and pages in social networks of companies selling goods in Ukraine and registered in Ukraine must be in Ukrainian (Article 27, Part 6). There may be other versions, but the Ukrainian version should contain no less content and be loaded by default for Ukrainian citizens. The same applies to websites of state and municipal enterprises, as well as media registered in Ukraine.
  • Websites of foreign companies selling goods in Ukraine shall have the Ukrainian version by default.
  • Mobile applications of companies selling goods and services in Ukraine must have a Ukrainian version.
  • Dedicated equipment (not common goods, but, for example, a medical device) does not have to have a Ukrainian version of the interface if there is an English version.
  • According to the article 30, part 2, companies of all forms of ownership and PEs [Private entrepreneurs] providing services to consumers shall have such services and information about their products available in the Ukrainian language. This also applies to online stores, online directories. Information in Ukrainian may be duplicated in other languages. But, at the request of the client, they may receive the services in the language of their preference.
  • E-commerce companies, registered in Ukraine (online stores) during the “distribution of electronic commercial communication” must provide all information in Ukrainian. According to the Law “On e-commerce” (Section III, Art. 10), “electronic commercial communication” means advertising messages with respect to goods, works, services. This can be an advertisement for a product in an SMS or mailing list, or information about discounts and gifts, about the cost of goods, etc.
  • A computer program sold in Ukraine must have an interface in Ukrainian and/or in English and other official languages of the EU, according to the article 27, part 1 (it means 23 languages: Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Irish, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish and Swedish).
  • Software products with user interface installed on products that are sold in Ukraine must have a Ukrainian version that is not inferior in terms of its volume to versions in other languages.

Important: the regulation about the translation of sites and pages in social networks of companies comes into force one and a half year (18 months) after the entry into force of the draft law. Part 1 of the article 27, which prescribes the translation of software into Ukrainian (but also leaves the English version) is not indicated among those articles that have a long term of entry into force, and most likely will commence 2 months after the entry into force of the draft law. However, part 2, which describes the use of Ukrainian in applications installed on products (for example, on consoles, smartphones, etc.), also comes into force after 18 months. In order for the draft law to take effect, it must be signed by the president and promulgated.

It should be reminded that the draft law was passed in the first reading in October of the last year.