Currency & Foreign Exchange

Ethiopian currency & foreign exchange

The local currency unit, the Ethiopian birr is made of 100 cents. Notes are issued in denominations of 200, 100, 50, 10, and 5 Birr, and the coins are made up of 50, 25,10, 5 and 1 cent.

Travellers cheques are difficult to convert anywhere in the country.

We advise carrying USD in cash and exchanging amounts as required throughout the trip where possible. We will advise on the opportunities when you arrive in Addis.
The exchange rate is the same throughout the country.

Exchanging currencies in banks, in particular in the areas distant from the main cities, is time-consuming at times. Government banks work from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, while the majority of private banks are open from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm. Many hotels will also change USD into birr.

Note that if you plan to change Ethiopian birr back to a foreign currency at the end of your tour, you should keep the receipt of your foreign currency exchange/s. The banks want to make sure you brought foreign currency into Ethiopia and will want to see the receipt/s as proof. For this reason, we suggest you only change funds that you are confident you will spend during your tour.

Carry small denominations of birr in the countryside as you will find villagers may not have change for larger notes.

Credit cards are accepted in a limited number of places: at airports, airlines including Ethiopian Airlines, travel agents, and in larger hotels such as the Sheraton, Hilton and Radisson Blu. You should not expect to use your credit cards at local restaurants or gift shops.

Cash withdrawal (ATM) machines are widely available in Addis Ababa and are increasingly found in the larger towns. A cash card associated with Mastercard or Visa can be used and also presented at a foreign exchange bureau.