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Money and security in Uganda

Advice: There is no black market for exchanging foreign currencies. Should somebody approach you, decline the offer.

The ugandan currency is the Ugandan Shilling, which is quite stable since the nineties. The current exchange rate is 1 Euro equals about 2.700 Ush (May 2008). Nowadays you can exchange all important currencies at banks or exchange offices, whereas the exchange rates can fluctuate. It is worthwhile to compare rates. Regarding the US Dollar you should heed the following:

  • Banknotes should not have been issued before the year 2000.
  • Banknotes should be undamaged.
  • You get a better exchange rate for higher valued banknotes.

You are allowed to import up to 10.000 $ without declaring it. Travel checks are rather uncommon and do not forget the receipt which you need to exchange them.

Banks in Uganda

Advice for Visa Credit Cards: For security reasons you can only withdraw money 3 times within 7 days of a maximum of 1500 Euros. That means you can only withdraw 1500 Euros in 7 days.

In Kampala and bigger towns international banks (Barclays, Standart Chartered Bank, Citibank) are at hand with several branches. With a credit card (preferably Visa) and the Pin No. you can always get cash at the counter. Important: You will need your passport to withdraw money!

At banks and nearby shopping malls (e.g. Shopsite, Garden City Shopping Mall) there are cash machines where you can get cash as well. Outside bigger towns it can be difficult to find a bank, so always carry enough cash with you.

In case of emergency

If all fails you can get yourself sent money with Moneygram or Western Union, for example by relatives at home. Within less then an hour you will have the money at your disposal in Uganda, which has been paid in at home of any amount. The higher the amount, the lower is the fee for this service.

For example: For an amount of 100 Euros the transfer will cost 7.5 Euros (7.5 %).For an amount of 1000 Euros the transfer will cost 29 Euros (2.9 %)

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Giving tips in Uganda

To give a tip in Uganda is not "mandatory", but it is taken gratefully. But be aware: Orientate yourself at the typical local amount. A tip which is normal in Europe might be too much in Uganda. For example, when you pay for a breakfast for 3 EUR than 20-30 cent (500-1.000 USh) should be enough.

Where tourists are frequently around, a tip is expected, for example in hotels or relatively expensive restaurants. In restaurants you just round up the amount, a tour guide or a driver gets 1-2 Euros a day, at the hotel you give about 30 Cents a day.

Safety in Uganda

Uganda is in most regions a comparatively safe country to travel in. Not long ago, the border regions in the south and southwest, neighboring Ruanda and Kongo, were problematic. But the situation calmed down after the regional tensions have eased off.

Unfortunately, this was not true for the border region to Sudan in the north, where the inner conflict in Sudan extended into Uganda. Here, the militia of the "Lord´s Resistance Army" (LRA) were fighting against ugandan troops, which has led to a civil war years ago. In April 2008 the signing of a peace agreement between Uganda and the LRR failed because the LRA leader did not appear. At the moment he is continuing his military activities in Eastern Kongo.

If you want to avoid any risks, to stay in the region north to Gulu should be avoided. You get up-to-date information at the website of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs (see below).

As a traveler you can move freely without problems in all settlements and even Kampala. Anyhow, you should not neglect the safety precautions you always take when you are traveling in a poorer country: Valuables belong into your pockets, carry you money at your body and not more then necessary. In bigger crowds, for example at a taxi stand, there are of course pickpockets around. All in all, concerning crime, Uganda is safer compared for example to well known Kenia.

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