The guide to the local currencies
The Tanzanian Shilling is the country’s official currency. There are coins in the denominations of 50, 500, and 1,000 shillings, as well as notes in the denominations of 1000, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, and 10,000 shillings. Local businesses, such as stores and restaurants, primarily employ the local currency.
In the tourism industry, the US dollar is the chosen currency. Hotels, guide tips, tour payments, and even souvenir shops accept US dollars, but they can also accept Tanzanian shillings if that’s all you have.
It’s also worth noting that most establishments that accept US dollars won’t accept it if it’s ripped or wrinkled.
Local companies will immediately refuse notes that are older than 2006 due to a historical issue with counterfeiting.
Most stores, restaurants, and hotels accept international credit cards (particularly Visa, MasterCard, and American Express). Because many smaller establishments do not have EFTPOS, it is often preferable to carry cash for incidentals.
Processing fees for credit card payments range from 5 to 15%. When paying via credit card, keep this in mind.
In most places, ATMs that take both Visa and MasterCard are available. ATMs are not available in small towns or on safari.
Make sure your bank knows you’ll be heading to Africa. Some banks will regard transactions done outside of your home country as suspicious, and if you haven’t informed them, they may lock your accounts.
As you are only able to withdraw Tanzanian shillings, you’ll still need to convert currency at the bank or in a currency exchange office in order to pay for things while on safari.
If you’re curious about the current exchange rate, we recommend checking XE.com. This is just a guideline, and local vendors will have their own exchange rates posted.