Money / ATMs / simcard

The local currency is Tanzanian Shilling (Tzs). Many hotels require payment in US$, in particular for accommodation, but also for food and drink and for tours. Taxis and car rentals are also paid in US$. You do need Tzs if you go shopping in the villages or eat at local restaurants (recommended!) and for petrol if you rent a car. Tzs come in notes of 10,000, 5,000, 2,000 and 1,000 shillings. Coins used here are 500, 200, 100 and 50 Shilling.

The Government recently closed all exchange bureaus in Stone Town. At present, one can only exchange money at the local banks, their new exchange bureau outlets and at the Post Office in Shangani. Apparently new regulations for exchange bureaus are being formulated as well as a proper registration process.

The exchange bureaus inside the airport arrivals and departures halls are still open 24/7, as well as outside the airport at the parking lot where you get better rates. Bring $100 and $50 notes for best rates. NB: latest news is that only US$ notes printed after 2013 will be exchanged!

For an indication on current exchange rates check https://crdbbank.co.tz/exchange-rates/

The bigger hotels, restaurants and car rentals have credit card facilities. A surcharge of 5% is applicable. Be aware that at many places credit cards are not accepted.

ATMs: You can only draw Tzs against your credit card or a card with a Visa or Mastercard logo. An ATM is at the airport parking lot, there are a few other ATMs in Stone Town. Most ATMs have a maximum payout of Tzs 400,000 per withdrawal. You can use your credit card multiple times until your daily withdrawal limit on your credit card is reached. You might have to visit different ATMs though.

There are NO ATMs outside of Stone Town, with these 2 exceptions:

Paje:  The Barclays ATM is at the UP petrol station close to the police checkpoint

Dunga: The NMB ATM is between Dunga and Koani (central Zanzibar)

Petrol costs Tzs 2181 per liter for Super (mid August 2019) and is paid in Tzs.  You can also pay in US$ but you’ll get a really bad exchange rate.

Simcard/internet: You can buy a simcard at the airport or in the villages (cheaper). A Zantel simcard with 12 GB costs US$ 20 at the airport.

Wi-Fi hotspots in Stone Town are at the airport, ferry port, at Forodhani Gardens, Mercury’s Restaurant and La Taverna restaurant. Most hotels and restaurants offer free Wi-Fi for their guests.

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86 thoughts on “Money / ATMs / simcard

  1. had a general question of you can help me.

    I understand we should bring USD’s in good condition.

    Are small denominations better and say 10’s and twenty’s?

    Arriving in about 2 weeks

    Thanks,

    Ron

    Like

    • Hi Ron,
      As mentioned on my page “money/ATMs/internet on phone” you get best exchange rates for $ 50 and $ 100. If you are asking about paying with $ you might want to bring also some smaller notes.
      Cheers
      Gaby

      Like

  2. Hi Gaby! Thank you for a quite informative and very useful website. I have been dreaming of visiting Zanzibar for over 3 years now and I am really excited that I am finally doing this. I have one question, I usually exchange USD to local currency at the airports upon my arrival, is there a place to exchange at the airport for a good rate rather than the higher rates at hotels as you mentioned?
    Also, I asked the hotel for airport pick up and they will charge 15 USD, would it be cheaper if I just grab a cab from the airport?
    Thanks again 🙂

    Like

    • Hi there, glad to hear you are fulfilling your dream, you will for sure like it here.
      The best exchange rates you get at the exchange bureaus in Stone Town. Bring $50 and $100 notes for best rates.
      I suppose your hotel is in Stone Town? Transfer cost from the airport to a Stone Town hotel are between $15 and $20. The taxis at the airport can only be booked via the tourism desk outside the arrivals hall, they get a commission on the fares. So I guess the transfer cost of your hotel is fair.
      Sunny greetings,
      Gaby

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey Gaby,
    Great blog, sounds like you have loads of fun leaving in Zanzibar 🙂
    A quick question, you mentioned that you can only withdraw money from an ATM with a credit card.
    Does it mean you can’t do it using just a debit card?
    Thanks
    Marta

    Like

    • Thanks Marta, yes I am very happy here and enjoying myself thoroughly.
      You can draw cash at the ATMs in Stone Town with any card that has the Visa or Mastercard logo, or American Express and at some ATMS Diners. Just make sure that you register your debit card at your bank for withdrawals in foreign countries before you leave.
      Sunny greetings, Gaby

      Like

  4. Hi Gaby, Great info. Thanks.
    My four year old and I are visiting Zanzibar in 2 weeks.. My options are bringing South African ZAR and exchanging at an exchange bureau in Stone Town or using my US Debit Card at a bank machine. Which do you think has the better exchange rate? Important to note, to get the rands I am withdrawing from US bank account in Swaziland where I live so am already paying one foreign transaction fee…
    Also, I will be applying for our visas at the Zanzibar airport. Can I pay in ZAR for that, do you know?
    Thank you!!

    Like

    • Hi Mari,
      You can exchange Rand into USD at the local exchange bureaus. They don’t charge any exchange fees. With your credit card, you can only draw Tanzanian Shilling (Tzs), no US$, which you then can exchange into US$. Don’t know which is better. Please note that ATMs/bank machines are only in Stone Town. In the coastal areas, there are no ATMs.
      Visa is paid in US$ only, either cash or via credit card. Rand is not accepted here to pay with.
      Cheers
      Gaby

      Like

  5. Thanks Gaby! Totally different subject but what’s the appropriate dress code there for women? Skirts and tank tops okay or should I cover my shoulders?

    Like

  6. Hi Gaby!
    Such a great blog! Really useful! But i wanted to ask you sth, where exactly can i buy the sim cards? And another question, maybe offtopic, but do you know if theres is any place where i can buy photographic accessories? Cuz i have a gopro camera and mines waterproof case just broke, so i was wondering if you know any place where i could buy one.

    Thanks

    Like

    • Hi there,
      Great to hear that you like my blog.
      You can buy simcards at any kiosk in Stone Town that has the green logo of Zantel displayed, or any other service providers like Tigo etc. If you need a Nano or Micro simcard you need to go to Zantel’s sales office in Vuga, around the corner from the High Court. In coastal areas, look for the kiosks at the roadside.
      Re your camera, maybe speak to Rohit of the Capital Art Studio, he has the oldest shop in Stone Town, worth while a visit in any case. He is a photographer. His shop is in the same building block where the Shangani Post Office is (opposite Memories of Africa), next to the internet cafe in the same building. He might be able to help.
      Cheers

      Like

      • Hi again,
        Thanks for the info, it was really helpful, but unfortunately I could not get the case for the camera.
        I am going to spend a month in here, so thanks to ur labour with ur blog, yesterday I visited Cheetahsrock and its awesome what Jenny and her staff do there 🙂
        Thx

        Like

      • Hi Maribel, you are most welcome.
        Indeed, Cheetah’s Rock is an amazing experience. Glad you enjoyed it too.
        Sorry to hear that you didn’t get the case for the camera. Maybe check in Dar es Salaam? I wouldn’t know where though.
        Cheers

        Like

  7. Hello Gaby,

    I will be in Sansibar for 3 months and so I am looking for :::: It is possible to by a Nano Sim of Zantel at the airport or only in the city? Do you know maybe if the shop Zantel is also open on saturday or sunday?

    Greetings from Italy 🙂

    Like

  8. Hello Gaby,

    I will be for 3 months in Sansibar and so I am Looking for an internet provider for my smartphone. Zantel looks as a good option. So, my question is: Can a buy a nano sim still in the city or also at the airport? Do you know if the Zantel shop in Vulga has open also on saturday or sunday?

    Greeting from Italy,
    Maria

    Like

    • Hi Maria,
      Zantel seems to have the best coverage as well as packages on the island.
      At the airport you can only buy a regular sized simcard. You need to go to the Zantel shop in Vuga to have it cut down to nano size. They are open on Saturdays as much as I know. Not sure about Sundays though.
      Cheers
      Gaby

      Like

  9. Hi there can you please tell me whether or not RANDS can be exchanged for shillings?
    Or can rand only be exchanged for dollars?

    Like

  10. Thank you, I’m just about to travel to Zanzibar and this information will be SO helpful! (Particularly the tip on bringing US cash, I was going to leave most of mine home!)

    Like

  11. Hi Gaby, can I pay with credit card at the Airport Shop for buying a SIM ?
    I will bring a sim card cutter with me for nano. A cutter is cheap at Germany . Maybe I will leave it at the airport shop at the end of the travel….

    Like

    • Hi, as I mentioned on this page, only the bigger hotels and restaurants on the island have credit card facilities. Please be aware that this is a tiny tropical island, you will not find the same amenities here that you might be used to. You mostly pay in cash when you leave your hotel. There is no airport shop, just a small kiosk outside the arrivals hall. Simcards must be paid for in the local currency Tanzanian Shillings (TZS). The outlets usually have those little machines to cut the simcard to micro or nano size. Nevertheless, if you want to you can always leave yours there as a welcome donation.
      Cheers
      Gaby

      Like

  12. Hi, How much TZS I need for one week ? Can I change rest of money at the airport on departure or I need to go to Stone Town before flight ?

    Like

    • Hi, I cannot possibly say how much Tzs you will need in one week, that entirely depends on you, e.g. if you eat out or if you booked all inclusive etc. You can exchange Tzs to US$ or Euro at any Exchange Bureau in Stone Town or at the airport.

      Like

  13. Hi,

    Do you know what are the opening hours of currency exchange in Stone Town?
    Is it opened on Sundays as well?

    With best regards

    Terje

    Like

  14. Hi. Really great blog and at most useful.
    I intend to came on Zanzibar next week (if I got the plane from Munich).
    As I look on Zantel website there is no coverage on Zanzibar east coast. Is this right?

    Which middle class hotel with all inclusive could you recommended there?

    Like

    • Hi, Zantel does cover the south east coast, but the service fluctuates depending in where you are. I personally use Halotel (www.halotel.co.tz) which has excellent coverage from Michamvi to Bwejuu, but not so good in Paje apparently.
      Please consult Tripadvisor for a suitable hotel. If you are looking for something authentic/Zanzibari/Rasta I recommend Mustapha’s Place in Bwejuu, pls check their website. I don’t think they offer all inclusive though – which I don’t recommend anyway, you surely would want to eat at different places, there is a good choice at the south east coast.
      Cheers Gaby

      Like

      • Thank you very much. Did I see that correct: Halotel 1 week internet 3G, 1.33 MB = 5.000 Tshs = less than 2,5 $
        Plus Halo SIM = 500 Tshs ?

        Like

      • Hi, not sure what a simcard costs, I think it is Tzs 1000.
        I use the weekly package for all networks: Tzs 1999 = 32 min calls to all networks, 21 halotel calls + 350 sms + 150 MB 3.5 GB. That’s less than $1.

        Like

  15. Update abouth ATMs – there is one in Makunduchi in place of The people’s Bank of Zanzibar.
    I also find an ATM without surcharge on withdraw. If I remember right it was from Bank of Africa.

    And the exchange rate for $ or € cash in exchange office (which are all-around) is a little better than those on ATMs.

    Like

  16. Hi Gaby,

    The ATM located in Makunduchi is NOT for VISA use. According to our Hotel (La Madrugada) it’s for local use only.
    If expected to dine, drink etc on a Hotel, I’ll recommend USD only.
    We brought USD, exchanged in Stone Town to TZS and went south.
    Down here though (on the hotel), all prizes are in USD, and since we had to pay in TZS it gave us a small loss due to their exchange rate (2200 to the USD) .
    If renting a Vehicle, ensure to get a 4WD, some roads are in REALLY bad condition.

    Like

    • Hi Thomas,
      Thank you for your valuable input. I will amend the section re Makunduchi ATM.
      As to US$ versus Tzs: This entirely depends on the individual choices and in which area you staying. As mentioned in my blog “Many hotels require payment in US$, in particular for accommodation, but also for food and drink and for tours.”. If one however visits local restaurants (which is highly recommended), the prices are in Tzs. Same applies for shopping in curio shops, small supermarkets, fruit stalls etc. Also, if you rent a car petrol is paid in Tzs. Makunduchi is a bit secluded, however there are some local eateries there.
      Cheers
      Gaby

      Like

  17. Hello, Gaby!
    Could you please tell me, was there any surcharge (commission) on withdrawal from ATM?
    And is it possible to withdraw USD or TZS only?

    Like

    • Hello, you can only withdraw in Tzs, as explained on the page Money matters / ATMs on my blog. There are charges, depending on who you got your credit card from; you will only see the amount of charges on your bank statement.
      Please check out http://www.worldremit.com It works out much cheaper than an ATM withdrawal. You can send yourself money to Tanzania, in Tzs, from your credit card or bank account, to be paid out in cash at Diamond Trust Bank.
      Cheers
      Gaby

      Like

      • Hello Ekaterina.

        Check with your bank what commission they charge for withdraw. My Bank take 3,5€ per withdraw with Visa Electron and thats its. I only mentioned that exchange rate for USD cash change are better than withdraw.

        Like

  18. Thank you so much for this info! Very helpful. I can’t believe how cheap the phone plans are! I am now thinking I should unlock my phone before our trip and get a sim card on arrival now that I know how inexpensive it is.
    Thanks!

    Like

  19. Hi Gaby
    Is there a forex bureau at the airport?
    Is there a limit as to how much USD you can change into TZS per person in one day?
    Thanks,

    Like

    • Hi, yes there are exchange bureaus in the arrivals hall, but you get better rates at the exchange bureaus in Stone Town. As much as I know there are no limits of the amount of foreign currency one can exchange.

      Like

  20. When you come out from airport building, there is a “restaurant” on the right side, behind that there are few exchange bureaus with practically same exchange rate as in Stone Town (local rent a car company use them to change money).

    Like

    • Hi JuriB,

      Thanks for the tip; indeed in our recent trip to Zanzi, we used one of those bureaus and had no problems. I negotiated a better rate and got a receipt for my transaction. In fact the rate I got was even better than what I noticed in Stone Town.

      Cheers!

      Like

  21. Hi Gaby,

    thanks for the very informative blog. I do have a question, I have read somewhere that officially the import/export of the Shilling is prohibited. I have a few 100 thousands accumulated from collections and was hoping to bring them over to spend it. In your experience can I expect any trouble from customs upon arrival for having local money with me? Many thanks
    Danny

    Like

    • Hi Danny,
      I don’t know if there are limitations to import TZS. All hand luggage and suitcases go through an x-ray machine which is monitored by customs officials. Not sure how they will treat a suitcase full of TZS.
      Cheers, Gaby

      Like

  22. Hi Gaby,

    I had a quick question about ATM withdrawals. I have bought a preloaded travel cash card and have loaded $600 USD on it. I wondered whether the ATM’s provide the option to withdraw in USD or only in TZS? I wanted to withdraw some USD in Tanzania as i’ll be heading straight on to Kenya after that so only wanted to carry half my spends in cash and half on card!

    Cheers,
    Emma

    Like

  23. Hallo Gaby, wir reisen am kommenden Dienstag nach Zanzibar und haben leider durch deinen Blog festgestellt, dass mehrere der von uns eingetauschten Dollarnoten vor 2006 gedruckt wurden. Leider bleibt zum Umtausch keine Zeit mehr. Werden diese auch in den Hotels nicht akzeptiert? Lieben Dank, Brigitte

    Like

  24. Hi Gaby
    Can I pay the tours with euro to? Or much better with dollars? If I book the tours on the hotel reception, it’s more expensive like the others? Thank you for your help!
    Greetings from Vienna :Gabor

    Like

    • Hi Gabor,
      The currencies accepted on the island are US Dollars and Tanzanian Shillings. Hotels usually add a surcharge if you book via them, if possible book the tours directly.
      Cheers, Gaby

      Like

      • Dear Gaby!
        Thank you! Do you have any must have tour, or tour guide recommendations in Stone town?
        Thanks again : Gabor

        Like

      • Kindly read the “discover” sections on my homepage and choose whatever suits your interests.
        There are many registered tour guides (please ask for their badge!), they all had to pay a lot of money – in most cases borrowed from family members – that they have to get back in earnings. I think it would be unfair if I recommend a particular tour guide, they are all good. Many of them also speak German.

        Like

  25. Morning, So glad a stumbled onto your page. So much information. We are visiting Zanzibar in November. I visited Zanzibar over 20 years ago as a young backpacker and have decided to bring my son to this lovely island. So looking forward to this trip. Take care.

    Like

  26. Hi Gaby
    Great blog, thank you. I wanted to check what would be better – bringing Rands to change into Tanzanian Shillings at the airport or using my mastercard Cheque card to withdraw Tanzanian shillings from at the airport?

    Like

  27. Hi Gaby. I am going to Stone Town tomorrow and need to pay my guide in US$. I have no cash on me. I read in one of your replies that the best way around this is to draw shillings from an ATM then go to one of the local bureaus in Stone Town and exchange the shillings for dollars. Two questions: is this how you would do it, and secondly, what do you mean by local bureau (do you have a name).
    Thanks so much for the awesome info!1
    Ian

    Like

    • Hi Ian,
      Correct, that’s the only way possible. They are marked as Exchange Bureaus. Best rates you get at Eagle Bureau de Change in Gizenga Street and Suma in Darajani. Your guide will know the places. Exchange rates are clearly displayed at the bureaus. If you buy US$ the current rate is 2315 Tzs per $. You can also ask your guide if you can pay him the $ equivalent in Tzs.
      Cheers, Gaby

      Like

  28. Hi Gaby,
    Thank You for this great side. We will part to Ethiopia, and then to Zanzibar in about 4 weeks and i will read a lot of your info until then. Perhaps I will have some questions too.
    In Gaby native language:
    Super Seitn, dank da schee. Vui Griaß aus Niederbayern.

    Michael

    Like

  29. Hi Gaby,
    wir kommen Ende August auf deine traumhafte Insel.
    Vielen Dank für deinen sehr informativen Blog.
    Eine Frage hätte ich noch.
    Hälst du es für sinnvoller € mitzubringen und diese in den EXCHANGE BUREAUS in TZs zu tauschen, oder nur wenig Bargeld mitzunehmen und direkt vom ATM zu ziehen?
    Vielen Dank für Rückmeldung
    Beste Grüße aus der Heimat.
    Martin

    Like

    • Hi Martin,
      ich würde Euro mitbringen und in Stone Town in Tzs umtauschen. Solltet ihr mehr Tzs brauchen könnt ihr sie bei einer ATM ziehen (der Kurs ist schlechter).
      Sofern ihr nicht Vollpension gebucht habt braucht ihr auch US$ – ihr könnt hier nur in US$ oder Tzs bezahlen, nicht in Euro.
      Sonnige Grüße
      Gaby

      Like

      • Hi Gaby,
        vielen Dank für die Info.
        Wir haben bereits ein Appartment gemietet und sind aktuell auf der Suche nach einem Mietwagen.
        US$ sollten wir daher nicht benötigen.
        Einzige was ich nicht so gerne mag, ist dann direkt so viel Bargeld in der Tasche zu haben und dann erst damit in die Stadt zu müssen.
        liebe Grüße
        Martin

        Like

      • Hi Martin,
        Euer Apartment sollte einen Safe haben!? Wenn nicht dann würde ich den schlechteren Kurs bei der ATM in Kauf nehmen, d.h. keine Euro umtauschen.
        Beim Mietwagen bitte unbedingt eine Firma wählen die aktuelle Reviews hat. Es gibt sehr viele unprofessionelle Anbieter hier. Auch 24/7 Pannenhilfe ist wichtig.
        Cheers, Gaby

        Like

  30. Hi Gaby,
    danke für den Hinweis.
    Wir haben nochmal bei unserem Vermieter nachgefragt. Ein Safe ist vorhanden.
    Mietwagen werden wir wahrscheinlich bei Kibabu anmieten.
    Freuen uns schon sehr, bald das bezaubernde Tanzania besuchen zu dürfen.
    LG
    Martin

    Like

  31. This is the most amazing information found thus far! Thanks to everyone for amazing questions and to Gaby for wealth of information! So we are traveling to Jambiani next year, staying at the Uzuri Village – I know you are not on that side of Zanzibar, however, would you have information regarding managing doing some work (ugh) will vacationing? I know the resort has wifi but I also know it is not 100% reliable/strong. Additionally, if I need to fax/scan/print something – is there somewhere to do that nearby? I dislike the thought of working while there, but it is a necessary evil so I can afford the trip.
    Many thanks in advance for your help.

    Like

    • Thank you, I am thrilled that my info and the questions of all my wonderful readers help.
      Please check with Uzuri Villa regarding WiFi, it very much depends on which system they use and also on how much access each guest gets.
      You might want to get additionally a local simcard for internet. I use Halotel 3G. Check http://halotel.co.tz/en/service/mobile/3g-internet for internet packages. It works very well in Bwejuu (close to the Halotel transmitter, about 10 km from Jambiani). Not sure how it works in Jambiani, rather check with Uzuri.
      Fax machines are very uncommon on the island. To my knowledge you can only scan/print documents in Stone Town. Check with Uzuri, they might have a scanner/printer.
      Hope this helps.
      Sunny greetings, Gaby

      Like

  32. Hi Gaby,

    So thrilled to have found your website. I’m sure you’ve heard it enough that the information you’ve put together has been sooo helpful. But I want to thank you for making it so easy. My husband and I are travelling to Zanzibar post Eid for 8 days in June. After reading your blog we feel like we should have booked for more days! There’s so much to do! We’re also considering staying at the South East coast as compared to nungwi/kendwa but we also do love sunsets actually which we might miss on the east coast!
    We have a couple of questions:
    1. We are landing at 1.30am. is it safe to take a taxi at that hour to stone town? Or should we wait till 6am at day break to get a cab. We’re concerned that in case our flight is delayed and we take time for visa the prebooked cabbie might leave or we won’t be able to get in touch since we won’t have a working number.
    2. While visa on arrival is available. My travel agent recommended doing it in advance since getting it at Zanzibar airport apparently is a hassle and they ask too many questions and it takes long. Is it true?
    3. Also is there any other cheaper SIM card option available at the airport or stone town?
    And again your blog is reallllyyy good!
    Thanks,
    Mrinal

    Like

    • Hello Mrinal,
      Thank you. I am always thrilled to hear that my blog helps.
      As to missing sunsets at the south east coast: You could stay at Michamvi. Due to the shape of the peninsula you can enjoy sunsets even at the south east coast, for example at Michamvi Sunset Beach hotel.
      Regarding your questions:
      1) Rather book a taxi with your hotel. They know that planes can be delayed. No need to wait at the airport till daybreak.
      2) Usually you get forms to complete on the plane. There might be long queues at the visa counters but as you get to the front it is a quick process. You can also apply for the visa online: https://eservices.immigration.go.tz/visa
      3) You can buy a simcard package at the exchange bureau on the airport parking lot, they are open 24/7. For other simcard options best check with your hotel.
      Cheers,
      Gaby

      Like

      • Thank you so much Gaby! We feel more at ease to now take the cab at night! Could you help us with another question: Which snorkelling trip would you recommend the one from Stone town to Prison Island or the one at Mnemba Atoll? Which one is better? Also to go Mnemba Atoll, does safari blue operate from Paje or Jambiani?

        Thanks,
        Mrinal

        Like

      • You are welcome. Snorkelling at Mnemba atoll got very good reviews.
        Safari Blue starts from south of Stone Town, please check http://www.safariblue.net There are cheap copycats that start from Paje/Jambiani, they call themselves Blue Safari. Please be careful, there is a huge difference between those two.

        Like

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