Money and power are the pivot of every trip. These two items will make or spoil your holiday experience while you travel. The same applies to your trip to Uganda. This is what you need to know about currency and power options as you plan your trip to Uganda.
Currency and payments:
The Local currency: Uganda shillings (UGX). The highest bill is 50,000/= while the lowest paper bill is 1,000/-. The other bills in between are 20,000/-, 10,000/-, 5,000/- and 2,000/- followed by the coins 1000, 500, 200, 100 to 50 shillings (or lower though no longer common in the market)
The hard currency commonly accepted: US Dollars. The exchange rate of USD to Uganda shillings varies. At the moment of this post (Jan-2019), it is rotating around 3600UGX to 1USD. Please refer to google forex options to know how much it is, at your time of travel.
Commonly, prices will either be in Uganda shillings or US dollars. Service providers, especially those in the rural areas or those with micro enterprises are not familiar with hard currencies so will rarely accept them as a preferred form of payment for goods and services. If any they will only accept US dollars. This includes even when the prices and invoice have been issued in Dollars Other many foreign currencies including Euros, Pound sterling, Kenya shillings, south African Rands etc., are well accepted in Forex bureaus.
If you plan to pay buy other foreign currencies, it is better to make online payments where automatic exchange can be done or use of international ATM cards. Other common online payment options include; Useremit, Pesapal, PayPal and Mobile money points attached to the local mobile phone companies. You need a local sim card of a particular company to be able to use this service for payment. Mobile money is most suitable for visitors who will stay longer in the country. In case you’re one of those, consult your agent to advise the most user-friendly company in your location. At the moment, MTN is the leading and followed by Artel.
As you choose the method of payment, please be aware of the following;
- Most businesses and hotels upcountry don’t accept credit cards. This indicates that there is very high demand of cash during travel unless payments are made in advance before arrival.
- All old US dollar currency notes with 2006 of print and backwards will not be accepted by anybody, any business or any bank. If you’re lucky and they are changed, they will be changed at a lower rate, of the service provider’s choice. Please don’t take this lightly!
- Smaller dollar notes starting from 20$ note and downwards, whose year of print are within the acceptable range will be changed at smaller rates of the changers choice and a receipt may not be given. Please ask your agent to get more information before travel, to avoid inconveniences.
- If any US dollar bill or any other foreign currency bill is torn, written on or stained by dirt or moisture, it will not be accepted or may be changed at a lower rate. It doesn’t matter even when this is a minor impact.
Banks/ATMs /Forex bureaus:
All banks will have ATM outlets. However, some ATM machines may not accept international cards. From experience, most people successfully use either Stanbic bank or Barclays bank to access international cash.
Banks are mainly located in the towns or cities. This makes it necessary to maximize the use of these facilities when you have chance. Whenever you go to one, always ask your guide if you will have another chance ahead on your trip.
It is rare to find forex bureaus in smaller towns. They are in large numbers within Kampala city or some few in other large towns like Jinja, Entebbe, and fort portal. In smaller towns you will have to change the currency in banks which may have a lower exchange rate than the market rate.
Electricity is 240 Volt, 50 Hz. A UK plug is used. Sockets are usually 3 pin and are of the rectangular/ square pin variety. Be ready for this when you carry your gadgets or chargers. Otherwise you will be stuck or forced to buy new plugs
How prepared are you?
Every prepared person is a happy traveler in Uganda. Try to be ready before you get trapped in the situation. In most cases, the transport and movements worsen the situation. Please try to be ready and Uganda will be a great destination for your trip. Enjoy your trip to the pearl of Africa!!