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Home » Travel Information » What is the Currency in Uganda? What is the Best Currency to Take to Uganda? What is the Currency in Uganda? What is the Best currency to take to uganda?

What is the Currency in Uganda? What is the Best Currency to Take to Uganda? What is the Currency in Uganda? What is the Best currency to take to uganda?


What is the currency of Uganda? Uganda’s currency structure consists of banknotes and coins. The Uganda shilling is the official currency for Uganda (sign: USh; Code UGX). It cannot be purchased outside the country.

It is a free-floating currency. US dollars are the most useful hard currency, especially in small towns, though euros and pounds sterling are also widely accepted.

You can exchange your foreign currency for the local currency at the Entebbe International Airport or in Kampala through their foreign exchange bureaus.

History of Uganda Currency

Did you know that the currency of Uganda has changed 7 times in the last 50 years?

Following the independence of Uganda from Britain on 9 October 1962 and the consequential dissolution of the Eastern African Currency Board in 1966, the Bank of Uganda introduced its first banknotes of;

  • 5, 10, 20 shillings, and 100 shillings as well as;
  • Coins of 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, 1 shilling, and 2 shillings.

As politics of Uganda evolved and changed with various presidents so did the Uganda currency with a number of different banknotes being introduced and modified to reflect the leadership present at the time.

The recent change was in May 2010.

Current Uganda banknotes include;

  • Uganda shillings (USh) 50,000
  • Uganda shillings (USh) 20,000
  • Uganda shillings (USh) 10, 000
  • Uganda shillings (USh) 5,000
  • Uganda shillings (USh) 2,000
  • Uganda shillings (USh) 1, 000

Coins commonly used in Uganda today include;

  • Uganda shillings (USh) 100
  • Uganda shillings (USh) 200
  • Uganda shillings (USh) 500

The currency notes in Uganda features several heritage symbols and emblems that give an insight into Uganda’s historical, natural, and cultural heritage.

For example if you take a look at Uganda’s 50,000 shillings note, you will see an image of the:-

  • Independence Monument
  • A crested crane
  • Bwindi Impenetrable National Park forest
  • A Silverback mountain gorilla and
  • The outline of a man wearing a Karimojong headdress

This Uganda banknote has been rated by the International Bank Note Society as one of the world’s most beautiful currency in the world.

The Bank of Uganda is the central bank of Uganda, established in 1966. It monitors Uganda’s commercial banks, serves as the government’s bank, and issues the national currency. The government sets the shilling’s official exchange rate against foreign currencies.

  1. What is the best currency to take to Uganda?: Can I use US dollars in Uganda?

  • The currency of choice, trade, and tourism in Uganda is US Dollars (US$/USD).
  • Many Uganda hotels, safari companies, airlines; Uganda Wildlife Authority for gorilla permits, and park fees ask for US$.
  • Thus, it’s always recommended to have both Uganda shillings (UGX) and US$ during your Uganda safari as Uganda shillings makes the payment for local items like souvenirs easier and the USD can assist with tipping among others.
  • Other Foreign currency including Euros and British pounds can be accepted but within Kampala or Entebbe and may not easily make transactions in countryside areas.
  1. How do I exchange cash in Uganda?: Where can I exchange money in Uganda?

  • Getting Uganda Shillings while on safari in Uganda  to Bwindi Impenetrable national Park, Mgahinga National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Lake Mburo National Park e.t.c can be done at Entebbe International Airport or at a border post if you are entering via land or you can convert at any of the foreign exchange (forex) bureau in Kampala city and other major towns in Uganda.
  • US dollar, Pound sterling, and Euro banknotes can easily be changed for Uganda shillings at any forex bureau or bank in Uganda.
  • You should, however, note that Uganda does not accept US dollars older than 2009, and torn or blemished notes of any currency are also not accepted in Uganda.
  • Large denominations of hard currency bills attract a better exchange rate compared to denominations of hard currency bills of 20 or less.
  • Kampala, the country’s capital city is the best place for those who want to get the best possible exchange rate after arriving in Uganda.
  • While exchanging your money to Uganda shilling, it is advised that you also request smaller banknotes of 10,000, 5,000, 2000, 1000, since it may not be easy to obtain change for larger in some places in Uganda. Also, small notes make it easy if you want to tip.
  • There are fewer forex bureaus outside Kampala, so you will mostly depend on banks. Banks are open from 9:00 to 15:00 on weekdays (though some banks in Kampala stay open later) and from 09:00 to 12:00 on Saturday.
  • You will struggle to find anywhere to change money on a Sunday. If you have local currency left over at the end of the trip, you are advised to convert them back to foreign currency in a matter of minutes at any forex bureau, albeit at a slight loss.
  • If you are planning to do gorilla trekking in Uganda on your safari, Uganda Wildlife Authority accepts USD, Euros, and Pounds and offer you fair currency exchange rates for gorilla permits and park entrance fees.
  1. Can I use my Visa debit card or Credit card in Uganda?

  • All large towns and many smaller ones have at least one 24-hour ATM where local currency can be drawn against any international PIN-protected credit/debit card with a Visa or Mastercard logo.
  • Stanbic ATMs are reliable and widespread, and allow for daily withdraws of up UGX 1,000,000 (around US$270).
  • Larger towns also usually have branches of ABSA and/or Standard Chartered banks with ATMs where you can draw up to UGX 2,000,000 (around US$540).
  • Other banks with viable ATMs in Kampala and most other larger towns include DFCU and Kenya Commercial Bank.
  • Charges are levied for withdrawals, but it tends to more-or-less balance out against the charges on cash forex transactions.
  • It might also be prudent to contact them to check your card’s compatibility with East African systems and find out what they will charge in addition to locally levied fees.
  • Other than using ATMs, there is little scope to use your credit card for direct payments and a levy of 5% will often be added to the bill.

Below are some tips for using ATMs in Uganda:

  • Before your trip to Uganda inform your home bank that you will be using your card in Uganda or else you may find it denied.
  • Please be aware of the daily cash withdrawal limit.
  • Ensure that you use ATMs that offer privacy and protect you pin numbers as you punch it in.
  • Never accept assistance from volunteers at an ATM because they could be local scammers.
  • Try not to let your cash run out because you may find some ATMs empty or non-working
  1. Money transfer in Uganda: What is the best way to send money to Uganda?

  • Transferring money between banks in Europe, North America, or Asia and Uganda remain surprisingly slow, taking many days.
  • It is much quicker to have a friend or relative send you money using Western Union or MoneyGram. You will be able to collect Ugandan shillings convert from a sum paid to an agent in your home country as little as 10 minutes earlier.
  • It will take you at least this long to receive-by phone, Email or Text message- a code word registered by your Good Samaritan which you must quote to obtain your money.
  • The service is not cheap but it is convenient in an emergency, and branches are found in most Ugandan towns.
  • Using Pesapal or World Remit in Uganda to send money is also an easy and convenient way. You can opt to use Pesapal where the money is transferred to one’s MTN mobile money account/phone number at lower charges.
  1. How much do you tip in Uganda?

  • Tipping is not a culture in Uganda. This is, however, is adapted especially by people with jobs in the tourism industry especially in hotels, lodges, and guides.
  • Tipping in Uganda is not a must after service provision rather the client does it upon their own will and they are free not to tip if they don’t feel like. Clients should always give tips as their own decisions.
  • A tip is a sign of appreciating the services which most clients do to their lodge attendants, porters, guides, and drivers.
  • Because tipping in Uganda is out of courtesy, it doesn’t matter how much you tip so even a small tip is appreciated.
  • For driver guides, you may consider US$10 per day if you are pleased with his/her service and in restaurants, US$5-10 is a good tip.
  1. How can I keep my money safe while on a Uganda safari?

  • As you tour Uganda, you advised not to pull out all your money with other people watching you.
  • It is good to always keep the money you’re going to use soon nearer and keep the rest far safe.
  • If you will need cash where you going to, it is better to carry it in a money belt around your waist.
  • It may not be safe to carry your money in a backpack when walking especially in Uganda busy towns as someone can open it and pick the money without your notice.
  • Using the ATM at night is risky. You are also advised not to use big notes in markets and bars because it attracts robbery and pickpocketing.
  1. What can I buy in Uganda?

After enjoying their Uganda tours, the visitor also thinks of what to bring back from Uganda. There are a variety of unique things to buy in Uganda. Souvenirs are any objects that can be purchased and transported home by the traveler as a memento of their travel to Uganda.

Curio shops/craft shops in Uganda are available near most attractions and in different towns and cities where travelers can buy locally made handicrafts including;

  • Gorilla souvenirs such as a curved gorilla walking stick, Gorilla Bracelets, and earrings, Gorilla T-Shirts
  • African Fabrics such as Kitenge Cloth, a fabric famously know as ‘the communicating textile’ because of several colors, patterns, writings, and symbols which represent moods, feelings, cultures, and traditions of African people
  • Ugandan tribal Jewelry such as beaded necklaces and bungles
  • Sandals; baskets; handbags made from patterns of African wax print, hand-woven sisal and straw bags, and others.

There no set minimum or a maximum cost of souvenirs in Uganda that one is required to adhere to when purchasing a souvenir.

But, etiquette suggests you keep it within a monetary amount that the receiver would not feel uncomfortable with when presented the souvenir. The object itself may have intrinsic value, or be a symbol of experience.

All these items in Uganda take cash only, and, it is strongly suggested that you use local currency. In Kampala, souvenirs can be bought at:-

  • Ndere cultural center-located along Ntinda – Kisaasi road, in the suburbs of Kampala;
  • Uganda National Museum
  • Exposure Africa-located on Buganda road right in the heart of Kampala and other places.

Note: Do not buy things with wildlife bones, fur, hippo teeth, or ivory also so-called Elephant Bracelets, or items made from Giraffe tails.

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