Ugandan Shilling: A Complete Currency Guide

Last updated on March 12th, 2024 at 05:09 pm

If you’ve traveled to Uganda or are proud to call this beautiful country home, you know that this East African nation boasts plenty of attractions. Uganda is home to the tallest mountain range in Africa, feeding the continent’s longest river and largest lake. Here, you’ll also find the greatest number of mountain gorillas on the planet. What’s more, democratic Uganda is ranked among the fastest growing economies in Africa.

Then there’s the memorable Ugandan street food—like sambusas, maize, and the vegetable omelet known as a “rolex”—that you can buy with the Ugandan shilling (UGX). This currency is closely tied to Uganda’s rich history and culture. Read on for fascinating facts and essential information about Uganda’s money.

Ugandan Shilling

Fast Facts: Ugandan Shilling

Following Uganda’s independence from Great Britain in 1962, the Eastern African Currency Board collapsed. The Bank of Uganda was first established in 1966 and began issuing its first currency that year, including the 5, 10, and 20 shilling banknotes.

Since then, Uganda’s currency has changed seven times. In 2012, Uganda released a Shilling 1000 59th anniversary coin.

Uganda’s currency structure includes both banknotes and coins, including the following:

  •  Banknotes — UGX 1,000 UGX 2,000 UGX 5,000 UGX10,000 UGX 20,000 and UGX 50,000
  • Coins — UGX; 1,2,5,10,50,100,200, 500 and 1000

Understanding UGX Currency Exchange Rates

Like any currency, Ugandan exchange rates fluctuate based on supply and demand.

Before you travel to Uganda, plan ahead concerning exchange rates. Taking the time to find the best deal can significantly increase the amount of money you get. For starters, search USD to UGX or EUR to UGX—or whatever your local currency may be.

If you’re sending money to Uganda with Remitly, you can see our competitive rates directly on your phone using the Remitly app.

5 Facts You May Not Know About the Ugandan Shilling

Traveling to Uganda or want to share some unique facts about your home country’s currency? Here’s a closer look at the Ugandan shilling.

1. Ugandan banknotes are a thing of beauty.

The International Bank Note Society rated the 50,000 shillings note as one of the most beautiful currencies. You’ll see the ‘Stride Monument’ and the Bwindi tropical rain forest on the front of this note. The famous silverback mountain gorillas will immediately catch your eye on the back.

Each banknote depicts symbols of Ugandan heritage, ranging from the Nile River to the Parliament Building in Kampala. Every shilling note tells a story.

You May Also Like: The 11 Most Beautiful World Currencies

Ugandan Shilling

2. Ugandan currency includes advanced security measures.

Uganda is the first country in Africa to use the advanced optical security feature known as SPARK.

Each shilling note also:

  • Is made from high-quality paper that is challenging to reproduce
  • Has special thread woven into the paper that changes color depending on the angle
  • Includes a watermarked image of the crested crane, showcasing the denomination below the break
  • Contains a transparent section that displays symbols from the front and back sides simultaneously
  • Changes patterns when viewed from different angles

Knowing these security features will help you identify any counterfeit banknotes, too.

3. In Uganda, cash is king.

When traveling to Uganda, you’ll want to bring cash. The good news? In major cities and towns, you can withdraw funds at the largest and most common banks, such as Crane, Barclays, Orient, and Standard Chartered. When using an ATM, Visa is what’s preferred.

If you bring your credit card, know that this payment option is not widely used unless you use your card in high-end restaurants, major hotels, or safari lodges. You should expect a surcharge added to your bill when using your card.

4. Uganda’s money has changed with the times.

As mentioned, Uganda’s currency has changed seven times in the last fifty years. These changes included new designs, retired denominations, different leaders depicted on the banknotes and coins, and anti-counterfeit measures.

Changes to Uganda’s national currency occurred in 1966, 1973, 1979, 182/83, 1985/86, and 1987, with the latest in 2010. You can see all current banknote and coin designs in circulation at the Bank of Uganda website.

5. The Ugandan shilling isn’t the only currency accepted in the country.

Uganda’s national money is a well-established global currency. This means it floats against foreign currency on the international market. If you’re traveling to Uganda, you will be able to easily convert your home currency for shillings and then use that currency to buy products and services throughout Uganda. As mentioned, this is a sensible option because credit cards are often charged additional service fees.

In addition to the shilling, the euro (EUR), Great Britain pound (GBP), and United States dollar (USD) are also used throughout Uganda. For example, if you plan on taking a tour, such as a gorilla trekking trip, most operators will accept these international currencies.

Sending Money to Uganda

If you’re many miles away from Uganda but would like to send money to loved ones back home, you have options. For the best experience, seek a secure money transfer solution with low fees and multiple delivery options, like Remitly, and read our guide about How to Send Money Safely to MTN Money in Uganda in 5 Easy Steps.