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Money in Uganda


The Ugandan unit of currency is the Ugandan Shilling, which comes in 4 paper denominations and 4 coin values. Along side the Shilling, the US dollar is regarded as the 'hard' currency of choice and can be used to make payments in most hotels, large shops and government offices.

The purchase of Shillings from banks and forex bureau is simple, though it can take time, and most organisations will ask for proof of purchase before cashing travelers' cheques.

Coins are rarely used in larger shops where almost every purchase is rounded to the lowest denomination note (1000 Shillings).


Ready Cash

The unit of currency is the Ugandan Shilling. Notes are available in 1000, 5000, 10,000 and 20,000 Shilling denominations. Coins come in 50, 100, 200 and 500 Shilling values. For most purposes its best to have a supply of 1000, 5000 and a few 10,000 notes available. Coins aren't much use in hotels and shops, but you may be able to use them in markets and stalls. The 10,000 and 1,000 Shilling notes look remarkably similar in half light and when they are grubby, so it's advisable to check your change carefully.

Hotels and major shops will often price items in US dollars as well as Shillings, and either currency will be accepted. Dollars cash can be exchanged for Shillings in areas where travelers' cheques are not accepted, so it can be useful to carry a few for emergencies. Do not take dollar notes of 2003 or earlier, or damaged / dirty notes, as these are rarely accepted.

Traveler's Cheques

Travelers cheques can be cashed in the capital city, Kampala, but facilities are much harder to find in regional towns. Its best to assume that you will NOT be able to cash cheques outside Kampala unless you know for certain that facilities do exist. Even where travelers cheques can be cashed, exchange rates vary greatly and you should shop around for the best rates. Do not assume that larger international banks will give the best rates. In our experience it's worth visiting several of the smaller forex bureau before deciding where to part with your savings.

Cheques made out in US dollars are easiest to cash, although euros and GB pounds are also accepted.

When you purchase your travelers cheques be sure to receive, and keep, proof of purchase. Take the proof of purchase and a photocopy of it with you when you visit the bank as some will not cash cheques until you prove that they are yours. Uganda has been subject to extensive circulation of forged travelers''s cheques in recent years, so providing proof of purchase is a sensible precaution to combat fraud.

As always, make sure your cheques were signed when you bought them, and don't sign them again until the bank teller asks you to do so. Never keep them with your passport unless you are going to the bank to cash them.


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