NBE Revises Directive that Limits Birr & Foreign Currency Holding

ADDIS ABABA – National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) has issued a new directive that limits Birr and foreign currency holding in the territory of Ethiopia.

The legislation, signed by central bank governor Yinager Dessie (Ph.D.), came into force as of Monday, September 05, 2022, repealing and replacing the previous FXD/49/2017 Directive.

The newly issued Directive says it has become necessary to set the conditions, limitations, and circumstances under which an Ethiopian, resident of Ethiopia, and a non-resident or any other person who may process and utilize foreign currency in the country.

The central bank, in the new directive, bans using foreign currency in cash in local transactions including gifts and donations.

It has also made several changes to the previous limits on birr and currency holdings.

Accordingly, the NBE has increased the amount of birr a returning or departing person can hold per travel from 1,000 Birr to 3000 Birr. However, a person traveling to Djibouti may hold up to a maximum amount of 10,000 Birr per trip, up from the previous 4,000 Birr.

FC limits on Non-residents

According to the directive, returning residents can hold the foreign currency they brought in for a maximum of 30 days and need to declare if the amount they are carrying is over 4, 000 US dollars on Customs Declaration Form upon arrival.

Beyond the limited period, it says the residents should convert all foreign currency to birr at an authorized forex bureau.

The new directive also allows them to deposit their money in their foreign currency account. They, however, need to present a customs declaration if the amount exceeds 4,000 US Dollars or equivalent other convertible currency while depositing.

Non-Resident Ethiopians or Diaspora

As per the new directive, returning non-resident Ethiopians and foreign nationals of Ethiopian origin must declare if they are carrying currency more than 10,000 USD or other convertible foreign currency upon arrival on their Customs Declaration Form.

If a non-resident Ethiopian or Ethiopian origin intends to stay for more than 90 days, the directive says the person needs to deposit the money into his/her Foreign currency saving account or non-resident (NR) FC account.

However, the directive says he/she has to present a customs declaration to deposit or convert it to Birr at an authorized forex bureau if the amount of the foreign currency exceeds 10,000 USD or equivalent in other convertible foreign currency.

According to the directive, a non-resident foreigner who entered the country with foreign currency can hold the money until the visa validity period.

In addition, the Directive states that a person residing in Ethiopia is allowed to travel abroad by carrying a foreign currency upon presenting a bank advice issued for the purchase of the foreign currency within 30 days from the bank advice.

A person entering into the territory of Ethiopia from a neighboring country using land transport carrying other foreign currency having a value of more than or equivalent of 500 USD, shall declare at the border customs branches, and may travel by carrying such declared amount.

(Note*: The story has been updated on Wednesday, Sept 7, 2022)

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