Uganda currency  : Before 1966 the function of managing monetary affairs of Uganda was vested in the East African Currency Board. In 1966 the Bank of Uganda Act created the Bank of Uganda and started issuing Uganda’s first currency.

Uganda Currency has changed seven times since 1966. The 1966, 1973, 1979, 1983 and 1986 issues as a result of regime changes. The 1987 issue has undergone a series of upgrading, though not because of political factors but in an effort to crack down counterfeits and ease transactions as well. Following Uganda’s independence in 1962, the central bank of Uganda – Bank of Uganda introduced the first banknotes of 5, 10, 20, and 100 shillings and coins of 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, 1 shilling and 2 shillings. However, as politics evolved in Uganda with different presidents, the Uganda currency also kept on changing and modified and the recent currency change happening in 2010. So currently Uganda has banknotes of;

1,000 Uganda shillings, 2,000 Uganda shillings, 5,000 Uganda shillings, 10,000 Uganda shillings, 20,000 Uganda shillings, 50,000 Uganda shillings

And Uganda coins include; 100 Uganda shillings, 200 Uganda shillings, 500 Uganda shillings, 1,000 Uganda shillings

Both Uganda banknotes and coins features several heritage symbols that gives a hint on the Uganda cultural and natural attractions and heritage. For example, in the coins, you will find a miniature of Ankole Kingdom’s long-horned cattle in the 100 Uganda shillings, a fish (Nile Perch) on the 200 Uganda shillings coin, Uganda emblem on the 1000 Uganda shillings while on the bank notes, the 50,000 Uganda shillings represents the main tourist attractions of Uganda the Mountain gorillas, other notes represent the deepest lake in Uganda – Lake Bunyonyi, the great Sipi falls, agriculture as Uganda main economic earner, the Independent Monument as a symbol of Uganda’s independence and the several crater lakes in Uganda.

As a traveller to Uganda, it is important to know the right currency used to avoid being cheated. The local currency is the Ugandan shilling (UGX), though most tour operators and upscale hotels quote in US dollars.

ATMs are abundant in Uganda and all the biggest banks including ABAS, Stanbic, Centenary, Orient and Standard Chartered, Equity Bank, DFCU Bank, etc have ATMs that accept international cards. Even many remote small towns will have at least one of these banks, though try not to let your cash run out as the system sometimes goes down and machines sometimes run out of cash.

You will usually need to bargain with for some services in Uganda such as Boda boda (motorcycle taxi) and special-hire drivers, but bear in mind that there are many honest drivers out there, and in many cases the price they propose is the standard fare for a journey.


The Ugandan shilling (USh) is a relatively stable currency that floats freely on international markets. Most tour operators and upmarket hotels quote in US dollars (a few in euros), but you can pay with shillings everywhere. Notes in circulation are USh1000, USh5000, USh10,000, USh20,000 and USh50,000, and commonly used coins are USh100, USh200 and USh500.

US dollars are the most useful hard currency, especially in small towns, though euros and pounds sterling are also widely accepted. If you’re using dollars, try to avoid bills printed before 2009, as often they are not accepted (due to a higher risk of them being counterfeit notes). If exchanging dollars, small denominations always get a much lower rate than US$50 and US$100 notes – so ask for larger notes when you collect your money.

The best exchange rates by far are offered in Kampala. Forex bureaus offer slightly better rates than banks plus much faster service and longer hours; but they’re rare outside Kampala.

Note that Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) offers fair exchange rates for park fees and accepts dollars, pounds and euros and either cash or traveller’s cheques.

Cash at the airport – There are banks, ATMs or forex bureaus upon check-in at the immigration office at the Entebbe airport so you can easily access money using your credit card in Uganda but if you are in a pinch, an officer will hold your passport while you go get money from the ATM just beyond airport customs.

Credit cards are accepted at better hotels in larger cities, as well as smarter restaurants and safari lodges, but it’s always a good idea to bring plenty of cash as a backup. There can often be a surcharge of 5% to 8% when making payments by cards, but these are slowly becoming rarer as companies become more accustomed to people paying this way. Visa is the most widely accepted card, but MasterCard is increasingly accepted.

Below are some of the daily costs of using the Uganda currency:

For accommodations, the budget is less than US$100 while in dorm bed, it is about US$12–20, double room in a budget hotel is about US$30–50. Midrange: US$100–200, Double room in a midrange hotel: US$60–150 while luxury accommodations are at US$200 and above

Street-food snack: US$1–2 while Meal in a good local restaurant: US$10–20

Tourist attractions such as Chimpanzee tracking is at US$200, National park entry: US$40, Trekking mountain gorillas: US$700

Tipping is a culture here in Uganda and this is very common in the tourism sector of Uganda and its being adapted by other businesses. Even though tipping is a culture in Uganda, it’s upon a tourist’s satisfaction that they can tip and they are free not to top if are not pleased with the services.

Although tipping in US Dollars is accepted, when tipping, it is better to use local currency because most locals have limited access to money exchange points. We also recommend you tip directly to the service personnel as some of these tips never reach the intended persons when another individual is involved.

Since tipping in Uganda is out of courtesy, the amount to tip doesn’t matter. The main persons to tip while on a Uganda safari are the hotel staff, safari drivers, park rangers, and porters. For example, the amount of the tip given park ranger guides and drivers is about US $10 – $20 per day is reasonable if you think they have done a great job.

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