The official currency of Ethiopia is Ethiopian Birr (code ETB; symbol Br), divided into 100 cents. Notes come in the following denominations: Br100, Br50, Br10, Br5 and Br1. Coins are in denominations of 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1 cents.
Import and export of the local currency is limited to Br100, unless the visitor has a re-entry permit. The amount of foreign currency that visitors can bring or take is unlimited, provided it's been declared on arrival.
Generally all bills must be paid in the local currency, but many hotels and travel agencies, as well as many shops in Addis Ababa accept US dollars for payment.
Foreign Currency Exchange
Foreign currency can be exchanged at any commercial bank, including branches located at larger hotels and at the airports. Exchange rates are the same everywhere.
Foreign currencies that will give you the best exchange rates are US dollar, euro and pound sterling. Recommended to bring are US dollars, as some banks will not accept other currencies. Note that it is illegal to change money on the black market.
Exchange of birr back to foreign currency is only allowed for visitors holding onward ticket from Ethiopia.
Availability of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) is limited to larger cities such as Addis Ababa, Bahir Dar, Gonder and Mekele. The ATMs accept international Visa cards but they don't work with Cirrus and Plus systems and also don't accept MasterCard. Some ATMs in Addis Ababa dispense cash in both US dollar and birr.
Credit cards can be used in some places like hotels, airline offices or travel agencies in the capital Addis Ababa, but, with some exceptions, not outside of the city. Some banks will give you cash advance on a credit card. Most accepted cards are Visa and MasterCard and typically merchants add additional 3-5% to the bill when using them.
Traveler's checks can be cashed in banks, but are difficult to exchange outside of Addis Ababa. Best rates are offered for checks in US dollars or pounds sterling.
Usual banking hours are 8:00am to 3:00pm, Monday - Thursday, Fri 8:00am to 11:00pm and 1:30pm to 3:00pm on Fridays and 8:30am to 11:00am on Saturdays.