The Ugandan shilling is the currency for the country and notes are in denominations of 1000, 2000, 5000, 10000, 20000 and 50000 while coins are also used and are in denominations of 50, 100, 200,500 and 1000. Try not to accept very old or damaged notes where possible, as some places may refuse to take them.
The Bank of Uganda is the chief controller of money but there are several commercial banks operating under its regulation across the country. Banks operating business in the country include; Centenary bank, Stanbic Bank, DFCU, Crane bank, Standard Chartered, Equity bank, KCB, Eco bank, and Cairo bank among others. Mobile money services like Airtel money and MTN mobile money are also widely used especially by low income earners.
The US dollar, euro and pound sterling are all recognized currencies in Uganda, and both euros and dollars are now widely accepted for cash payments especially in large shopping centers and big companies like tour and travel agencies. Other international currencies may also be accepted in some places in the major cities, although visitors may struggle with other currencies in smaller towns.
Credit cards like American Express, Diners, MasterCard and Visa card are accepted but not widely used. Some large hotels, restaurants, travel agencies and shops in urban areas accept credit cards. ATMs are also available in the larger cities.
Traveler’s cheques are not widely accepted outside Kampala. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travelers are advised to take traveler’s cheques in US Dollars or Pounds Sterling. It is advised that travelers bring sufficient US dollars in cash in case of emergencies. Higher denomination bills usually give a better exchange rate than smaller notes.
Banks are always open from 8:30 am to 5pm from Monday to Friday and Saturday from 9pm to 1pm. Forex bureaus are also open up to 5pm daily.
The import and export of local currency is prohibited. Import of foreign currency is unlimited if declared upon arrival. Export of foreign currency must not exceed the amount declared upon arrival.
Foreign currency may be exchanged at the Central Bank, commercial banks and foreign exchange bureaux. Be aware that dollar notes from before 2006 will not be accepted for exchange.
Uganda duty free
The following items may be imported into Uganda by visitors over 18 years without incurring customs duty:
- 250g of tobacco products.
- 1L of spirits or 2L of wine.
- 500ml of eau de toilette, of which not more than a quarter may be perfume.
- Goods up to the value of US$500 (returning residents).
Narcotics, pornographic materials, counterfeit items, cultural art facts and objects of cultural importance, henna, palm tree products and explosive material are not permitted. Some medication may also be restricted; check before you travel. Meat and meat products, along with domestic and wild birds and their products from countries affected by bird flu, are also prohibited.
Live animals require a health certificate showing proof of necessary inoculations, and endangered species and products may only be brought into Uganda with permission of CITES. Hunting weapons are only admitted with authorization from the Ministry of Internal affairs.
A special permit is required to export game trophies.