Currency and Exchange
The national currency of Ethiopia is the Ethiopian Birr (ETB), with an exchange of 21 to the US$ (April 2016). Birr may not be imported nor exported. We advise you to bring most of your funds in cash. US Dollars, Sterling or Euros are all accepted. Visitors may import an unlimited amount of foreign currency but they need to declare amounts exceeding 10 000 USD at the customs upon arrival. At the airport it can be very slow to exchange money but the various banks in Addis Ababa are good options. US Dollars, Sterling or Euros should be clean and free from rips or marks. Travelers cheques issued either by Thomas Cook or American Express can also be changed at the airport, but they can be difficult to cash anywhere else. Outside of Addis Ababa, credit cards are not accepted in most establishments, so it’s better to carry enough cash to last for a few days.
Courier and Money Transfer Services
Money transfers can be made through Western Union and Money Gram. Both have representative branches in Addis Ababa and outside in the major towns and make their services available from private and national banks. For courier services, DHL, FedEx, UPS, TNT and EMS have offices in Addis Ababa.
Extra Spending Money
Bring extra spending money if you wish to buy local crafts such as jewelery, Ethiopian dresses, scarves, carved wooden crosses, basketwork, frankincense, Ethiopian coffee or other local specialties.
ATMs / Credit Cards / Travellers cheques
There is a dense network of ATMs in Addis Ababa. Credit cards, mainly Visa and MasterCard are useful for cash advances in Addis Ababa and can be used at most ATMs, major hotels and restaurants. However, they remain of little use outside the major cities. For credit card transactions you will usually be charged a service fee between 2.5 -10%. Moreover, your bank is likely to charge you also a fee for withdrawing cash from ATMs and for using your card overseas. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that your credit or debit cards will always work in Ethiopia. You need to check with your bank before departure. Please do not rely on credit or debit cards as your only source of money. Experience has shown that it is wise to withdraw a certain amount of cash upon arrival at the airport for your personal use. We can advise you on the approximate amounts of money you will need on your tour.
Banking hours are usually from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm from Monday to Friday and from 8:00 am – 11:00 am on Saturdays. Closing times may be an hour longer in some private banks. Most banks work through lunchtime including foreign exchange services.
In most hotels and restaurants, a 10 per cent service charge is added to the bill. Tipping is a frequent custom in Ethiopia, amounts depend on the service quality.