How Much Money to Bring to Tanzania?
A common – and sometimes confusing – issue for travellers to Tanzania is how much money to bring for a safari in Tanzania and Zanzibar.
While Tanzania has its own currency, the Tanzanian Shilling, US dollars are also widely accepted. Even Euros and Pounds are also accepted at many places, although not necessarily at the normal rate.
While businesses are generally happy to accept any currency, credit and debit cards are not widely accepted. While some large hotel chains and upmarket shopping stores may accept credit cards, most vendors do not.
Therefore, it is recommended to bring a reasonable amount of $USD, and then withdraw Tanzanian Shillings from the ATM. How much to bring depends on two main factors; what you will be doing in Tanzania, and how much you are comfortable carrying.
If you have not paid for safaris in advance, it may be necessary to bring USD to pay for this. Although they will likely accept shillings, you may get a better rate by paying in USD, and you may run into issues with maximum withdrawals.
You may also like to bring money for other expenses such as food and shopping, which is great in Tanzania and especially Zanzibar. You should also bring notes for tipping in Tanzania, which is an expected practice, especially on safaris or if climbing Mt Kilimanjaro.
The other consideration is how much money you are comfortable carrying. While it is not unusual for tourists to arrive with thousands of dollars in cash, there are obviously safety issues with carrying such large amounts of money.
Therefore, it is only recommended that you do so if you are confident that you will be able to store it safely, such as in a hotel safe.
Money Exchange and exchange rates in Tanzania
It is very important that any of the notes that you bring from home are printed later than 2006. Old notes are usually not accepted in Tanzania, and this is a policy which is strictly enforced. Even notes that are printed after 2006 may not be accepted if they are torn, dirty or crumpled.
In addition, it is recommended that you bring a variety of notes. While smaller notes such as $1 and $5 may not get as good as an exchange rate if exchanged, they are very useful when shopping and tipping!
Larger notes such as $50 and $100 notes are recommended if you are expecting to change the money, or use it to pay for expensive. accommodation or tours.
If you do need to exchange money, there are money exchanges in most major cities, however the rate is not always very good. In addition, it is important to only ever use legitimate and reputable money exchanges (your hotel or tour guide can help direct you).
You may see money exchangers at the borders or in towns, however due to the likelihood of the notes being counterfeit, these are best avoided.
ATMs in Tanzania
You can also expect to be able to withdraw money from ATMs in order to supplement the money you have brought from home. That said, ATMs are generally only in larger towns such as Arusha, Moshi and Dar es Salaam, so be sure to take out money in advance if you are travelling to more remote locations.
In addition, Visas are generally more widely accepted than Mastercard or Maestro. Ideally, carrying a card of both varieties is the best way to ensure you can withdraw money. This approach is also recommended in case one card is lost or stolen.
Before going overseas, you should also check with your bank about the rates for ATM withdrawals. The fees are often high, so it may be better to make larger withdrawals, less frequently. You should also check your maximum daily limits, and notify your bank of the dates that you will be travelling.
The money from the ATM is likely to be Tanzanian Shillings, although some ATMs do give US dollars. At the time of writing, the rate of USD to Tanzanian Shillings is approximately 2,000 shillings to $1 USD. However, this rate fluctuates often, so it is best to check in advance.
Security of deposit money with tour operators
You may also be requested to send money to tour operators in advance. This is standard practice, and not necessarily suspicious. However, it is recommended to take care in choosing a reputable tour operator with good reviews. However, if you are asked to wire money, you must be very careful to ensure that all the details are correct.
You are likely to be asked for a SWIFT code, account number and business address. Make sure you check all of these details to ensure that your money is sent to the right place!
If you do not feel comfortable sending the entire amount, you may also be able to negotiate to only send a deposit. Bargaining is common in Tanzania, so it is worth asking!
A final tip is to keep a close eye on your finances to ensure you have not fallen victim to any scams! If you notice anything irregular, report it to your bank immediately.