Banking & Currency

About the Currency

The currency used in Uganda is the shilling.
Section 161 (1) of the Bank of Uganda Act (1993) mandates Bank of Uganda as the only authority mandated to issue Ugandan currency banknotes and coins as legal tender.

Since its establishment in 1966, the Bank of Uganda has produced various issues of notes and coins

Denominations in circulation

The currency now in circulation was issued in May 2010 but it is circulating alongside the one issued in 1987.
The 1987 issue has the following denominations:
Notes of 50000, 20,000, 10000, 5000 and 1000;
The coins are 500,100,50,20,10, 5, and 2 shillings as well as a coin of 5 cents.
The 2010 issue has the following notes: 50000, 20000, 10000, 5000, 2000 and 1000. The coins are 500,100,50,20,10, 5,2 and shillings as well as a coin of 5 cents.
At present, coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 50, 100, 200 and 500 shillings are in circulation.
Notes in circulation are in denominations of 1,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 and 50,000.

History of Uganda Currency

Uganda started using her own currency after the collapse of the East African Currency Board. Before that, Uganda has been using other currency. In 1966, the Government of Uganda under the Bank of Uganda Act-1966 established Bank of Uganda.
Bank of Uganda started issuing Uganda’s first currency in 1966 when it was established.
Uganda Currency has changed seven times since 1966. The 1966, 1973, 1979, 1983 and 1986 issues/ changes were a result of change of regimes.
The 1987 issue has undergone a series of upgrading, though not because of political factors but in an effort to crack down counterfeits and ease transactions as well.
The latest issue was issued in May 2010.

First Currency (1966 Issue)

The 1966 currency had coins of:
5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, 1 shilling, 2 shilling.
It also had banknotes of:
5 shillings, 10 shillings, 20 shillings, and 100 shillings
The Banknote had a ‘palm’ watermark.

1973 issue

A new government took over in 1971; And in 1973, changes were made to the Banknotes. The denominations of the 1966 Issue were maintained, and a 50-shilling note was also issued. A portrait of President Idi Amin was then introduced on the Banknotes.

1979 issue

In 1979, a new government came in place and made slight changes to the currency. While it maintained the same denominations, Amin’s portrait was replaced with an artist impression of the Bank of Uganda building.

1982/83 Issues

A new government came in place in 1981. In 1982 new currency were issued out and same denominations were maintained. In 1983, the denominations of 500 and 1000 Shillings notes were introduced, and had a portrait of President Milton Obote.

1985/1986 Issues

A new government came in power in 1985. In 1985/86, another issue of currency was made, and Obote’s portrait replaced with the National Emblem in the middle of the Map of Uganda. A new Banknote of 5000 was also introduced.

1987 Issue

A new government came in place in 1986. New currency with a completely different design was introduced. This currency had coins of 5 cents, 1 shilling, and 2 shillings. In 1999 new denomination coins of 50, 100, 200 and 500 shillings were introduced.

Therefore, on December 31, 2000, Notes of Uganda Shilling 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 cease to be legal tender.

The new currency also maintained same Banknote denominations of: 1000 shillings and 5000 shillings. On December 10, 2001, a new series of 1,000-Shilling banknote with additional features such as; a vertical embedded security thread visible with 1000 running along the thread, the date 2000 and the latent image feature of number 1000 at a lower bottom centre of the banknote, was introduced.

On June 20, 2005, Bank of Uganda further enhanced 1,000-Shilling banknote. It has an improved cotton paper, shifting ink on the lower left front in figure 1000 that changes from green to blue when viewed at different angles.

On November 01, 2004, Bank of Uganda issued an upgraded 5,000-Shilling note with upgraded features. In 1995, a new denomination of 10,000 was introduced. It was later upgraded, and on January 02, 2006, the upgraded 10,000 shilling Banknote was put in circulation.

In 1999, Bank of Uganda issued out a new 20,000 banknote. It was also upgraded, and on November 01, 2004, the upgraded 20,000-shilling note was issued.
On December 01, 2003, Bank of Uganda issued out a new 50,000-Shilling note.

2010 Issue

The latest family of currency was issued in May 2010.
It has the following notes: 50,000, 20,000, 10,000, 5000, 2000 and 1000.
The coins have not changed from the 1987 issue coins.

Counterfeit Detection

Counterfeits

Counterfeits are limitations of the legal tender. They are worthless papers intended to be passed off as genuine notes. It is a criminal offence in Uganda to forge national currency. Anyone detected doing so is liable to being prosecuted.

Counterfeit Detection

Most counterfeits can be easily detected under scrutiny. Banknotes are made from special paper with unique tactility.
Get familiar with the feel of banknotes and you will be able to tell the difference when you handle s suspect note. Banknotes are enriched with security features that can be seen by the naked eye.
They also bear hidden features that can be seen only with the help of currency detection aids like an ultrasound lamp. Visit our page on banknote security features to learn more about these features.

Returning Damaged Notes

Damaged or mutilated Bank notes

Bank notes can be damaged or mutilated by poor handling and/or storage. The Bank of Uganda encourages users of currency to keep it well so as to lengthen its lifecycle.

Returning mutilated notes

A damaged or mutilated banknote can be brought to Bank of Uganda Headquarters or at any of the currency centres.

Process

The bearer is given a form to fill and attach to the damaged note. It is then returned to the authorized officer and a new banknote will be issued to the bearer.
For a mutilated note to be accepted and a new note issued, at least three quarters of that note must be available.
Counterfeits are completely worthless notes. Don’t get caught up- protect yourself and check your banknotes whenever you receive them. It is a criminal offence to keep or pass on a note you know is a counterfeit.
If you have a note that you believe is counterfeit, you must take it to police or Bank of Uganda, as soon as possible.