Money, Payments, Currency Exchange
Banks, ATMsThere is a number of Banks, including Government-owned and private ones, where visitors can cash travelers cheques or credit cards.
Foreigners are recommended to use NBU, National Bank of Uzbekistan has its branches in all provinces and major cities of Uzbekistan. Working hours are from 9.00a.m. to 6.00p.m. Visitors are usually received till 12.00p.m.
A fast and safe way of transferring cash to/from Uzbekistan is Western Union or similar Money Transfer systems.
Currency ExchangeAs of 2015, Uzbekistan is still a country of limited foreign exchange convertibility. According to law, foreign currency may only be sold at authorized Exchange Offices (available in most hotels, banks and airports).
Attention: selling/purchasing foreign exchange elsewhere or using foreign currency as means of payment is a criminal offense in Uzbekistan!
There is so called unofficial or 'black' exchange rate in Uzbekistan, but money should never be changed on the street. What seems to be a better offer from the black market will lead to visitors being cheated or, even worse, problems with the law enforcement. It is strongly advised to discuss the foreign exchange matters with your travel agent or the tour guide/driver who is accompanying you during the trip.
After you turned your currency into Uzbek soums, you may find it difficult to change it backward. Purchase of foreign currency at official exchange offices is a problem, though not prohibited.
You can withdraw foreign currency cash from your plastic card (credit/debit). Usually, this is done at the cash desk of major banks.
ATMsThere are ATMs at big hotels and major banks; they offer a chance to get hard currency in cash, but usually in small amounts (from 20 to 50 dollars) and with a very high commission.
A passport has to be shown when changing money at official exchange offices. Foreign bank notes with visible defects or marks are not accepted at the exchange.
Local CurrencyThe Uzbek currency is called Soum. The higher denominations of soums are available in bank notes, lower, called tiyin, are in coins. One soum is 100 tiyins. Notes come in denominations of 100, 200, 500, 1000 and 5000 soums (as of Sept 2015) Of them, notes smaller than 200 soums are essentially valueless. Soums are the sole legal currency in Uzbekistan. However, foreigners are obliged to pay hard currency for air tickets and railway tickets. Restaurants, cafes and hotels accept Uzbek soums only.
All cash payments must be in soums. Uzbekistan is a country where cash transfers dominate. Soum plastic cards are taken in most shops and air ticketing agencies though they are only available to the residents. In restaurants cash is prevalent.