Money in Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan’s currency is called the som (UZS) and bank notes are issued by the Central Bank of Uzbekistan. It was previously pegged to the US dollar, but since 2017 has floated freely and it is now much easier to convert UZS to and from other countries. On this page you’ll find information about bringing money to Uzbekistan, and making payments during your stay.

CASH IN UZBEKISTAN Uzbekistan’s bank notes (UZS) are printed in denominations from 1 to 100,000, though these days you are unlikely to see a note smaller than 500 or 1,000. The notes are brightly coloured and very attractively designed, which makes them popular tourist souvenirs. With a foreign bank card can get cash out from ATMs in most cities in Uzbekistan, and also change money in banks and at official exchange counters.

Uzbekistan is still a predominantly cash based economy. Although you can generally pay for hotels by card, it is usual to pay cash in restaurants and bars, as well as in shops and bazaars. 


CHANGING MONEY IN UZBEKISTAN Since FOREX liberalisation in 2017, the UZS has floated freely against the dollar. This means that the exchange rate fluctuates, and there are no longer separate official and black market rates. $1 is usually just over UZS 10,000, but you can check the latest exchange rate here.

It is not possible to buy or exchange UZS abroad: you have to wait until you get to Uzbekistan. It is easy to exchange Dollars, Euros, and Rubles, and also possible to change British pounds and other currencies, though you may not get such a good rate for these.

There are exchange counters at the international airports, so you can change money when you arrive in Uzbekistan. It is also possible to change foreign currency for UZS in banks and at official FOREX kiosks. Many larger hotels have these kiosks in the foyer for convenience. Do keep the receipt from the exchange transaction, as if you want to change your UZS back into USD at the end of your visit to Uzbekistan, you will need to show it to the cashier.


BANKS IN UZBEKISTAN Bank branches are widespread in Uzbekistan, and they include both state-owned and private banks. As a tourist, you are most likely to use the bank for changing foreign currency into UZS. You will often see the National Bank of Uzbekistan (NBU) logo as they have branches in most cities, but there are a wide range of brands. Uzbekistan’s banking law is undergoing significant reform to enable better international connectivity and consumer protection. 

 

ATMS IN UZBEKISTAN ATMs are less common in Uzbekistan than you might expect, but the number is increasing year on year. To use them, you will need a Visa or MasterCard, though be aware that some machines accept only one of these card types. Check for the logo on the front of the ATM.

The majority of ATMs in Uzbekistan dispense UZS, though a small number also dispense US dollars at the day’s exchange rate. There may be a daily withdrawal limit, and as UZS notes are relatively low value (and hence bulky for any reasonable sized transaction), the machines often run out of cash. In this situation, you will need to be patient and either find another machine, or wait for the bank to refill it. This usually happens within 24 hours, but it is worth having some USD or EUR in reserve to exchange if you can’t get cash from the ATM.


USING VISA & MASTERCARD IN UZBEKISTAN Uzbekistan’s banks and payment providers are starting to connect to international banking networks, so more and more businesses in Uzbekistan are able to accept foreign card payments. Larger hotels will usually accept Visa and MasterCard, and the number of restaurants and shops which can take cards is also increasing. It is, however, worth checking when you arrive, even if there is a card sign on the door, to make sure the machine is working. 

Contactless payments are a new thing in Uzbekistan. Businesses are keen to adopt this technology, however, especially given its relevance to COVID-19 hygiene protocols. We expect that more and more businesses will be able to accept card payments in the near future.