Travelling to West Africa?
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West Africa travel money
Ready to discover the best places to visit in West Africa? Learn more about cash and card payments before you go.
How many African countries use the CFA franc?
Fourteen African countries use the CFA franc. Eight are in West Africa and use the West African CFA franc (XOF). Six are in Central Africa and use the Central African CFA franc (XAF).
Which West African countries use CFA francs?
Eight West African countries use the CFA franc. These countries are Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo. They’re part of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU).
Can I buy West African CFA francs in the UK?
Absolutely! However, finding West African CFA francs at most UK banks or the Post Office is rare.
Your best bet for buying West African CFA francs in the UK is:
- Currency exchange shops or foreign currency services. These can be found in airports, train stations, and city centres. But beware, airport rates can be very poor.
- Online currency platform sites like ours offer the convenience of ordering currency online. Make sure to choose a trustworthy site that offers competitive West African franc exchange rates. We’re proud to say our rates are the best in the UK.
- Travel agencies. Some agencies also offer currency services. Ask about West Africa CFA francs when booking your West Africa trip.
Rates and fees differ among providers. Compare options and ask about hidden fees to get the most value for your pound to West African CFA franc.
Where to buy West African francs in London?
You can buy West African francs from ManorFX in Datchet, London. We’re conveniently located near Heathrow. If you want to save the trip, you can order your West African francs online and get them delivered to your door.
Is CFA the same as XOF?
Yes, CFA and XOF refer to the same currency, the West African CFA franc. “CFA” stands for Communauté Financière Africaine, while “XOF” is the currency code.
Should I exchange money before my trip to West Africa?
Yes, having some cash before your West Africa adventure for immediate expenses like food and transport is wise. Here’s why:
- Convenience: Avoid hunting for a currency exchange after landing.
- Better rates: Usually, rates are better in the UK than in tourist spots.
- Emergency cash: Having cash on hand provides peace of mind in unforeseen situations.
- Skip airport fees: Airport currency exchanges often have poor rates. Secure some cash before you fly.
What is the best currency to bring to West Africa?
For a balanced travel experience, consider:
- West African CFA franc (XOF). The main currency for your day-to-day expenses.
- US dollars (USD). A good backup, particularly in bigger cities and tourist destinations.
- Euros (EUR). Useful in some spots, especially those with historical European ties.
Credit and debit cards are good for more significant expenses in urban areas. Visa and Mastercard are your best bets. Mix and match to be prepared for different situations.
Should I use cash in West Africa?
Yes, especially for rural areas and local markets where cards aren’t accepted. Here’s where you’ll need cash in West Africa:
- Rural spots: In less developed regions, cash is king.
- Local markets: Expect to pay in cash at street vendors and small shops.
- Public transport: Cash is a must for taxis and buses.
- Emergencies: Have some cash for unexpected costs or when ATMs aren’t available.
- Negotiating prices: Cash is handy when haggling in markets.
Before your trip, buy West African CFA francs for cash-based transactions.
Can I use my bank card in West Africa?
Certainly! But mostly in larger cities. Be cautious in smaller towns where card usage is less common.
Here are a few tips:
- ATMs: Major cities have ATMs to withdraw West African francs.
- Inform your bank: Tell your bank about your travel plans to avoid any payment issues.
- Check fees: Ask your bank about foreign transaction fees.
- Security: Be vigilant when using ATMs and always cover your PIN.
Have cash as a backup for smaller purchases and in places with limited card acceptance.
Is it better to use cash or credit card in in West Africa?
Using cash is generally more convenient in West Africa. Many places, especially in rural areas, don’t accept credit cards.
However, credit cards can be helpful in big cities and hotels. Always have some cash on hand for smaller expenses.
How much cash should I take to West Africa?
It varies, but here’s a rough guide:
Total: £21-£60 per day
Total: £60-£180 per day
Total: £180+ per day
Plan your budget according to the best countries to visit in West Africa and top tourist attractions.
How can I avoid ATM fees in West Africa?
To avoid ATM fees in West Africa, use a bank card that doesn’t charge for international withdrawals. Some banks offer this feature.
Also, check if your bank has partnerships with West African banks. Using partner ATMs could lower or eliminate fees.
How does tipping work in West Africa?
Tipping isn’t mandatory, but it is appreciated. Tip around 5-10% at restaurants and a small amount for hotel staff and guides.
Is it cheap to visit West Africa?
Visiting West Africa can be more affordable than many Western countries. Food, transport, and accommodation often cost less.
However, prices can vary depending on the country and city. Always plan and budget in advance.
West African currency
West African CFA franc banknotes
West Africa uses its own unique currency, the West African CFA franc (XOF). Eight West African nations share this currency as members of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU).
Countries like Senegal, Ivory Coast, and Burkina Faso are part of this union. The West African CFA franc is considered the strongest currency in West Africa, making it a point of interest for visitors planning West Africa trips.
The West African CFA franc notes come in 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, and 10,000 XOF denominations. They feature vibrant colours and different designs, so you can tell them apart easily.
Each banknote highlights West Africa’s rich cultural and natural assets. Expect to see images of unique wildlife, traditional crafts, and famous places to visit in West Africa.
Like with many currencies, these banknotes can get a bit grubby. It is always good to wash your hands after handling money.
Coins in West Africa
You’ll find coins in 1, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 200, and 500 XOF denominations. These West African CFA franc coins display symbols and images representing West African culture and history.
The coins use materials like copper, nickel, and brass. The material reflects the coin’s value.
West Africa’s currency import and export regulations
Each country in WAEMU has its own rules for importing and exporting money.
- Nigeria: When entering, declare amounts over NGN 5,000,000. When exiting, the same rule applies.
- Ghana: Declare any amount over GHS 300,000 when coming in or going out.
- Senegal: Declare amounts over XOF 20,000,000 (West African CFA francs) when entering or leaving.
- Ivory Coast: Declare any foreign currency over XOF 1,000,000 or its equivalent when entering or exiting.
- Mali: Declare any amount over XOF 25,000,000 or equivalent in other currencies when entering or leaving.
- Burkina Faso: Declare any amount exceeding XOF 25,000,000 when entering or exiting the country.
- Niger: Declare amounts over XOF 2,000,000 when entering or leaving the country.
- Togo: Declare amounts over XOF 1,000,000 when entering or exiting.
- Benin: Declare any amount over XOF 10,000,000 when entering or leaving.
- Guinea-Bissau: Declare any amount over XOF 1,000,000 when entering or exiting.
- Gambia: Declare amounts exceeding GMD 200,000 when entering or leaving.
These rules often change, so getting the latest West Africa travel advice is crucial.
Check with local authorities for the most up-to-date regulations. Especially if you’re planning a West Africa travel itinerary that spans multiple countries.
Buying West African CFA francs online
Fancy a visit to the best countries to visit in West Africa? You can convert GBP to West African CFA francs online. Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed® will get it right to your door.
Or, swing by our travel money shop near Heathrow Airport. Convert your GBP to West African money there and get the same great West African CFA franc exchange rate.
Selling back West African CFA francs
Got extra West African CFA francs? Follow this link to exchange West African franc to GBP. Click on ‘sell currency’ and choose ‘XOF West African CFA franc.’
We offer good rates for your leftover West African Franc. You’ll get the best West African CFA franc to pound exchange rate with us.
If you have 1000 West African CFA francs (XOF), you’ve got various options for spending it in West Africa. Here’s what you can generally get:
- Groceries: With 1000 XOF, you can buy essentials like eggs, milk, or pasta.
- Treats: Grab yourself some local sweets or crisps.
- Local travel: A short hop on a local bus or a quick taxi ride is possible.
- Stay hydrated: Pick up a couple of bottles of mineral water.
- Street eats: Savour a quick bite from a local food stand.
- Mobile top-up: Recharge your phone with some data or minutes.
- Daily essentials: Get small toiletries like deodorant or a toothbrush.
- Souvenir shopping: Hunt for budget-friendly keepsakes at local bazaars.
The cost of stuff varies depending on whether you’re in a city or the countryside. It also differs from one West African country to another.
Yes, if you’re from the UK, you’ll often need a visa to visit West African countries for leisure or other unofficial reasons.
Many West African countries require a pre-approved visa for travellers coming from the UK.
Absolutely, you’ll need certain shots to travel safely in West Africa. Your needs can vary based on your health and the specifics of your West Africa travel itinerary. Usually recommended vaccinations include:
Yellow fever Typhoid fever Meningococcal disease Hepatitis series Polio booster Anti-rabies shot Keep up-to-date on standard jabs like MMR, tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough.
Malaria is a genuine concern in West Africa. Have a chat with your GP about antimalarials, and consider mosquito repellents and nets.
Remember, it’s always a good idea to consult healthcare professionals for the most accurate and personalised advice.
Ghana is one of the most visited countries in West Africa. It’s famous for its rich history, vibrant culture, and natural beauty. Tourists often visit landmarks like Cape Coast Castle, Kakum National Park, and Accra’s bustling markets.
The best time to visit West Africa generally depends on what you want to do. Here are some guidelines:
- Dry season (November to April): The cooler temperatures, less rain, suitable for outdoor activities. But the Harmattan wind can make the air dusty.
- Rainy season (May to October): The weather is warmer and more humid. It’s not ideal for outdoor activities, but the scenery is lush.
Each country has its own best times to visit based on local climate and events. Always check the specifics of the country you plan to visit.
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