Limits on Birr and Foreign Currency Holding in the Territory of Ethiopia (Directive No. FXD/81/2022)


A new directive has been issued by the National Bank of Ethiopia which establishes the conditions, limitations, and circumstances under which an Ethiopian, a resident of Ethiopia, a non-resident of Ethiopia, or any other person may possess and use foreign currency.

Following the publication of this new directive, the Limits on Birr and Foreign Currency Holding Directive No. FXD/49/2017 has been revoked. 

  • Birr Holding Limit for Departures and Entries to Ethiopia

The birr holding limit has now been extended from 1000 birr to 3000 birr when entering into and departing from Ethiopia. On the other hand, the amount limit permitted to hold has increased from 4000 to 10,000 birr for individuals traveling to Djibouti.

  • Time Limit for Retaining and Converting Foreign Currency

Every person residing in Ethiopia (including Ethiopians and foreigners having a permanent or temporary residence permit) should convert all of their foreign currency into Birr within 30 days of their entry into Ethiopia.

Foreign Nationals of Ethiopian origin or Ethiopian Nationals not residing in Ethiopia who enter Ethiopia carrying foreign currency and intend to stay more than 90 days must deposit such foreign currency into their Non-resident (NR) Foreign Currency Account, their Foreign Exchange savings account within 90 days from the date of entry stamped on the travel document by the Immigration and Citizenship service.

Those who carry more than US$10,000 or an equivalent amount in foreign currency must present a customs declaration or convert it to Birr at an authorized forex bureau.

However, a foreigner who doesn’t reside in Ethiopia and carries a foreign currency may hold the foreign currency in his/her possession up to the visa validity period.

  • Customs Declarations of Foreign Currency

A person residing in Ethiopia who enters the country from abroad is required to convert all foreign currency at an authorized foreign exchange bureau, and if the amount exceeds US$4000, he or she must complete a foreign currency customs declaration form upon arrival at the airport or any other entry point.

At the same time, any Ethiopian national or foreign national of Ethiopian origin arriving in the country with more than US$10,000 in foreign currency must fill out a foreign currency customs declaration form.

In order to enter the country with more than US$10,000 in foreign currency or the equivalent in other convertible foreign currencies, foreign workers such as embassy employees, temporary workers of different foreign institutions, workshop participants, or trainers must present either bank advice, an employer’s letter, or a supporting letter from the workshop coordinator proving that the funds were acquired legally.

If a person enters the country via land transport carrying other foreign currency with a value greater than or equal to US$500 in conversion, he or she is obliged to declare at the border Customs branches or stations and may travel abroad with the declared amount by providing a customs declaration.

The directive prohibits transferring or paying foreign currency in cash to a third party either as a donation or gift or to discharge any obligation is prohibited. In addition, it is against the law to conduct any kind of transaction in Ethiopia using a foreign currency.

Lastly, those who acquired foreign currency in a form of a gift or donation before the coming into force of this Directive are also required to convert the same within 30 days from the day the directive came into effect. The directive entered into force on September 5, 2022.

The full text of the Directive can be accessed at the following link:

Directive No. FXD/81/2022 Limits on Birr and Foreign Currency Holding in the Territory of Ethiopia

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