We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Tanzanian Shillings Regulations (US)

Austin, Texas
Level Contributor
264 posts
Save Topic
Tanzanian Shillings Regulations (US)

For reasons of my personality/background/practicality/common sense/whatever, I don't arrive in any country without carrying at least some currency of that country with me. So I was somewhat surprised to read on TA about the difficulties related to exchanging TZ Shillings (TZS) abroad and decided to look into it. As I half suspected, there seems to be some misunderstanding in some quarters about what one may or may not do.

In the US, you can *legally* buy more than US$100 worth of TZS to carry INTO TZ. This is not the same as taking more than US$100 worth of TZS OUT of TZ. The latter is/may be against the Tanzanian law (I have not verified).

So, if one is left with more than US$100 of TZS at the end of one's trip, it may be illegal to take it out of TZ and/or not worthwhile to convert back to US$, even if possible. No country sells its own currency in exchange for another at a lower rate than it buys the same currency for. So, e.g., if you are charged, say, $200 to buy 150 Euros in the US (not counting fees/surcharges), then if you want to exchange 75 Euros back into US$ after returning from your Europe trip, you will not get $100 back. It will be more like $90. I assume similar loss for reconverting TZS back to US$, if there was a legit way to do so. I've enquired about reconversion rates but have never reconverted any foreign currency left over from a trip back to the local currency thus far. But besides not having too much left over at the end of a trip, I've also never been in a situation where there were supposed legal limits to how much one could carry back.

Several yrs ago, I could get ForEx at many banks in the US. Now the only places I know in town accessible to me as a regular person [*] to get ForEx cash are a few select branches of Wells Fargo bank. That's where my information about the legality of obtaining and carrying more than US$100 worth of TZS into Tanzania comes from. The local person had to call their ForEx division somewhere to clarify the situation. Unlike some more "common" currencies like the Euro, Japanese Yen, British Pound, etc. that the bank keeps in stock on site, one needs to give the bank advance notice to be able to procure other currencies like TZS, Chinese Yuan etc. I assume that the situation regarding conversion and availability would be similar in Canada, Europe etc.

Can someone who has recently been to TZ tell me what kind of exchange rate you got for US$s at a legit exchange place in TZ (Arusha/Dar/....)?

Thanks.

[*] - By regular person, I mean an individual interested in retail exchange of small amounts of ForEx, not a ForEx commodity trader etc. who handles vast amounts of currency.

london
Destination Expert
for Zambia, Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha National Park
Level Contributor
4,976 posts
Save Reply
11. Re: Tanzanian Shillings Regulations (US)

1650 was the rate I saw on a board at Zanzibar airport on Saturday. It's possible I could have got the buying and selling columns confused. I was only looking out of curiosity- I used ATMs to get all my Tsh.

Saint Paul...
Destination Expert
for Tanzania, Serengeti National Park
Level Contributor
1,842 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
12. Re: Tanzanian Shillings Regulations (US)

Word in from Arusha just now is that the rate is around 1600, but it fluctuates...

Findlay, Ohio
Destination Expert
for Tanzania, Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Level Contributor
12,485 posts
8 reviews
Save Reply
13. Re: Tanzanian Shillings Regulations (US)

The Central Bank or Federal Bank for Tanzania is called the Bank of Tanzania. This bank posts policy and guidelines for Tanzania currency. It is not legal to take over $100 equivalent (of T Shillings) out of the country without notifying the Bank of Tanzania. It is not legal to take over $10,000 in USD out of the country without notifying the Bank of Tanzania, these are both Bank of Tanzania regulations.

As for buying and selling (the Bid/Ask spread) for FX transactions, the Bank of Tanzania posts every day what the Foreign Exchange is for Tanzania Shillings. It is on the right side of the Bank's web page, www.bot-tz.org/ and it is stated in 100 denominations. Today, September 11, 2013 the FX spread for USD is USD: 160,217.82 161,820.00 (first number is buying and second is selling) You can see that the spread is 1,602.18 or 1% (from buying to selling). This is the official rate of exchange for the country.

This will be complicated by each bank will post a different rate, some exactly as this, some different according to whether they want to be involved in Forex or not; and then they have private Forex (which they call Bureau d' Change) there which all will have a different exchange rate, but close to the BOTs, again according to how much business they wish to do.

And there are other countries, especially in Africa, which will regulate how much of their currency you may take outside the country. Countries such as Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Angola and others have limitations on how much of their currency you can take out of the country. Typically this is a notification issue.

Most tourists traveling there don't really know this, as most will never be stopped and checked for this. I know about these things as I sometimes travel with very large sums of money for business purposes, and I always check the country I am traveling into to make certain I am not violating any of their laws/regulations, or what I have to do in case I am stopped at the border and the money is discovered.

The US has this limitation also. While there is no limit on the amounts you can take out of the country, you are only allowed to take out of the country $10,000 without completing a US Customs form, CBP Form 6059-B, indicating the amount you are removing from the country. This probably ends up at the Federal Reserve Bank.

In most cases you are subject to forfeiture of the money if you are caught importing or exporting currency in excess of the allowed amounts.

Stanley, Falkland...
Level Contributor
32,954 posts
75 reviews
Save Reply
14. Re: Tanzanian Shillings Regulations (US)

Stokeygirl - it should say on the receipt?

Karl - Thanks again for sharing.

london
Destination Expert
for Zambia, Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha National Park
Level Contributor
4,976 posts
Save Reply
15. Re: Tanzanian Shillings Regulations (US)

I don't have a receipt as I didn't change money there, just looked at the board to check the rate. As I said, I used ATMs to get cash.

New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for Aruba
Level Contributor
4,506 posts
185 reviews
Save Reply
16. Re: Tanzanian Shillings Regulations (US)

For clarity, I was planning on changing USD to Shillings via Wells Fargo here in the States. When I found out what their exchange rate was I cancelled the transaction.

Minneapolis...
Level Contributor
4,493 posts
131 reviews
Save Reply
17. Re: Tanzanian Shillings Regulations (US)

So much interesting info!

In the meantime - Ghumoon - regarding your practical questions...

I don't remember anything about the hours of the exchanges. I do know that they give better rates for larger bills than they do on smaller bills... and that they do inspect every bill so they'd better be close-to-new or they'll hand it back to you.

Arusha, Tanzania
Level Contributor
591 posts
16 reviews
Save Reply
18. Re: Tanzanian Shillings Regulations (US)

in the four months I was in Arusha (May to Sept 2013) I saw exchange rates go from a low of about 1615 tsh per $1.00 to a high of almost 1670 tsh per $1.00, depending on which bureau I was at. Most often it was about 1620.

Old Moshi...
Level Contributor
85 posts
Save Reply
19. Re: Tanzanian Shillings Regulations (US)

Currently in Arusha bureau de changes:

Two weeks ago $100 us bought 165,000/= tsh

Today $100 us buys 161,000/= tsh

this is an average, some places are only giving 1500/=

The rate typically falls like this near the end of high season then picks up again before Christmas. Last year in Zanzibar I was getting 1850! In 2005 I was getting 1100.

For those deciding whether to come with tsh or not... If you are going to Arusha, Dar, Moshi, Tanga, Morogoro, Mwanza, Zanzibar... there is no need. Tonnes of bank machines to use and places to change money. Anywhere else it will help you to have a pocket full of shillings.

Also - Credit Cards - if you are staying in all inclusive resorts and flying everywhere you don't need cash except for tips. If you are making your own arrangements and are spending less than $100 per night on a hotel do yourself a favor and consider your credit card a funny square piece of plastic that may or may not work at any given time and will take a ridiculous amount of time to process. Also beware the additional credit card service fees. 5-15% depending on the merchant.

Safari Njema

nyc
Level Contributor
14,854 posts
Save Reply
20. Re: Tanzanian Shillings Regulations (US)

I've yet arrived any foreign country and not been able to exchange USD to their currency as soon as at Baggage Claim, whether ATM or Forex. Tanzanian and/or Kenyan Shilling, unfortunately are not readily available in the States, so if I do exchange (which is rare, I rather use USD), and when I have changed this year first in 18/yrs, especially in Tanzania, as IAB mentions above... better rate for higher denominations USD$100 and USD$50. Next denominations down the rate only a bit lower.

Last visit rate was TSH1650/USD$ for the $100 and $50s, NOT THOUGH FOR the $20s, 10s and 5s, which as I recall was about 1635.

Never exchange funds at a hotel/camp; can't recall last time I used plastic either country. Never used an ATM in Tanzania, but have in Kenya and surprisingly the rate was as good or better than the Forex.

To me for the few pennies (yes pennies) difference - Forex, ATM or plastic - I find no reason to knock myself out to bother shopping rates.

In most other countries visited... the ATMs and plastic have always provided the best rates. I also do my utmost to spend all foreign currency before departing anywhere, except for a few new/clean small notes as souvenirs... maybe amounting to $20 in value.

Edited: 13 September 2013, 22:56