Best Money Exchange Rates in Tashkent, Samarkand, and Bukhara (Uzbekistan)

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The official currency of Uzbekistan is Som (UZS) and the official exchange rate for UZS against US Dollar at the time of writing this article (February 2017) was 3294.74 Uzbekistani Som against one US Dollar. The market or real exchange rate for USD in Uzbekistan at that time was approximately 6900 UZS for every USD. Yes, there are two different exchange rates in this country. To see the current official rate at any time, go to Google and type "usd uzs rate" in lower case without quotes and press enter. The current exchange rate will be displayed by Google at the top of the page. This official rate is sort of a reference or "inter-bank exchange" rate but not the official buy-sell rate relevant for foreign tourists who wish to exchange money with authorised money changers in Uzbekistan. This buy-sell is likely to be different from the inter-bank exchange rate. So what is the official "buy-sell" rate? On the day I arrived at Tashkent International Airport, I spotted two things after clearing Customs formality. An ATM and a foreign exchange counter. The ATM seemed to be working but the exchange counter was closed. It was approximately 6.00am om 26th January 2017. But there was a display board kept in front of the exchange counter where exchange rates of UZS against four major currencies - Euro, USD, GBP, and Japanese Yen were displayed. Keep reading...

Uzbekistan 1000 Som Currency Notes

Official Buy-Sell Rates of Uzbekistani Som Against Major Currencies

These were the official exchange rates displayed at the Tashkent International Airport by the 'National Bank for Foreign Economic Activity of The Republic of Uzbekistan' on January 26, 2017 at 6.00am:

UZS Against One Euro

Buy 3884.00 Sell 3536.00

UZS Against One USD

Buy 3321.00 Sell 3330.00

UZS Against One GBP

Buy 4057.00 Sell 4117.00

UZS Against One Japanese Yen

Buy 288.00 Sell 292.31

To simplify the above rates, if someone wants to buy UZS against Euro they will get 3484.00 UZS for every Euro. If someone wants to buy Euro against UZS, they will need to pay 3536.00 UZS for every Euro.

The Real or Market Exchange Rate    

In practice, the "official" exchange or buy-sell rates do not mean much in Uzbekistan, neither for tourists nor for locals. The real exchange rate of Uzbekistani currency is decided by the people of Uzbekistan and in a way is the "market" rate of the currency. The unofficial or market rate based exchange of currency can take place anywhere except for the front offices of large hotels. Your exchange agent may be your travel agent, a vendor in or around a market area like Chorsu Bazaar, a taxi driver, or just about any person on the street. You just handover a 100 USD bill and take 675,000 Som in UZS bills of 5000 denomination. 5000 and 1000 UZS bills are most common though I also saw 500 and 200 UZS bills in circulation. A 5000 UZS bill can get you a cup of coffee in a shopping mall in Tashkent. A medium sized pizza will cost approximately 27,000 UZS. A taxi ride in Tashkent from Emir Timur Square to Chorsu Bazaar costs 10,000 UZS. In Chorsu Bazaar, you can buy good quality shelled walnuts (halves) at the price of 30,000 UZS per kilo.

How To Know The Market Exchange Rate of Uzbekistani Som

DollarUz App For Uzbekistan Currency Exchange Rates

The best way is to download a smartphone app called "DollarUz - Real dollari kursi" by Empire Software. This app shows the current UZS exchange rate prevalent in all the major places in Uzbekistan. The main screen will show a common rate but inside there are city-wise rates too. One word of advice though, don't take this DollarUz rate too seriously when you are in Uzbekistan. If the app is showing 6850, you may actually get only 6700 or 6750 per USD from a vendor there. This is normal. The rate shown in the app depends on the individual experience of the users who update the exchange rate on the app.

Where To Find Best Exchange Rates in Uzbekistan

Like I already said, the best rate is the one that is close to the DollarUz app rate. Practically anyone can give it to you. Generally speaking you should avoid hotel staff and your travel agent. My travel agent - 'iTravel' exchanged USD for the members of our tour group at 6000 Som per US Dollar when vendors at Chorsu Bazaar and taxi drivers were offering up to 6750 UZS. These vendors prefer high denomination USD bills, like 50 and 100 but some will exchange 10 or 20 USD bills too. The exchange rate may get lower for smaller denomination foreign currency bills. Carrying USD to Uzbekistan is a good idea because everyone will exchange that currency. Euro, GBP, and Japanese Yen may find fewer takers and the exchange rate will be poor. Also carry good quality notes. The quality of the Som bills that you get in exchange may not be so good but even old and slightly torn Som bills are accepted by the vendors in Uzbekistan. Be careful while doing this exchange transaction. Do the exchange in a public area. Do not follow someone to a secluded area even if they are offering the best rate. Do not be afraid of someone catching you while doing an exchange transaction in a public area because if such a transaction was being watched by someone from the authorities, that vendor would not be offering the exchange to you. Still, you need to know that all this market-based exchange of foreign currency in Uzbekistan is illegal. Also keep in mind the Customs requirement. At the time of entering Uzbekistan, you need to declare all the foreign currencies that you bring into the country. At the time of leaving, you cannot take more than what you brought. Also, do not carry any Som bills with you while leaving Uzbekistan. These notes are worthless outside the country.

Can You Pay For Merchandise in Dollars?

This is a tricky question. When a vendor quotes a price in Som, do not attempt to pay in Dollar unless the exchange rate is close to the market rate. I wanted to buy a power adaptor for charging my cell phone in the hotel room. At a nearby shop, they quoted a price for 20,000 Som for an adaptor. But when I asked the price in USD, they asked for 5 USD. At the market-based exchange rate, 5 USD were equal to more than 33,000 Som. I decided to pay in Som that I had exchanged with my travel agent at the rate of 6000 but that was still better than paying in USD. There will be times when the price will be quoted by a vendor in USD only. At such a time, do ask the price in Som too if you have that currency with you. The bargain may get better. In general, you need to ask the price in both currencies every time except for taking taxi rides. Taxi drivers always quote price in UZS. If a taxi driver quotes the price in dollars, it may mean that they are trying to scam you. However, if you do not have local currency with you, your taxi driver will gladly accept USD. Just be careful in calculating the equivalent amount.

The Situation May Change

I am writing this article in February 2017. In the near or not-so-near future, Uzbekistan may move towards a system of market-determined official exchange rates. In any case, the DollarUz app will be your guide. Also do some study on Google News about exchange rates in Uzbekistan before you start the journey. You will do fine.

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Posted by Narinder Singh


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I left my day job in October 2013 and became a full time blogger. I love travel and hence a travel blog was the obvious place to start from. The result is I currently live in Bengaluru, India. - Narinder Singh.


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