In Zambia a bureau de change is often located at a bank, at a travel agent, airport, main railway station or large stores, basically anywhere there is likely to be a market for people needing to convert currency. They are particularly prominent at travel hubs, although currency can be exchanged in many other ways both legally and illegally in other venues.
Currency in Zambia
The Kwacha (ISO 4217 code: ZMW) is the currency of Zambia which is subdivided into 100 Ngwee, with the three digit numeric code of 967. Major currencies available for money exchange at a bureau de change include dollars, pound sterling, rand and kwacha, other currencies can be ordered on request.
The exchange rates charged at a bureau de change are generally related to the spot prices available for large interbank transactions, and are adjusted to ensure a profit. The rate at which a bureau de change will buy currency differs from that at which it will sell it; for every currency it trades both will be on display, generally in the shop window. The bureau de change is obliged to publish on its exchange rate list only the least favourable exchange rate it offers. Some bureaux de change allow you to negotiate a more favourable exchange rate before the transaction depending, for example, on the amount being exchanged.
The business may also charge a commission on the transaction which is generally charged as a percentage of the amount to be exchanged, or a fixed fee, or both. Some bureau de change do not charge commission but may adjust their offered exchange rates. Some bureaux de change offer special deals for customers returning unspent foreign currency after a holiday. A bureaux de change rarely buy or sell coins, but sometimes will at a higher profit margin, justifying this by the higher cost of storage and shipping compared with banknotes.
Taking care of transactions
- Change money only at designated bureaux de change. Before changing money, carefully read all the information on the exchange rate list.
- The terms "purchase and sale of foreign currency“ and the corresponding exchange rates are seen from the bureau de change’s perspective. You will receive foreign currency in exchange for Zambian Kwacha at the sell rate and Zambian Kwacha in exchange for foreign currency at the buy rate.
- Exchange rates and commissions can differ from one bureau de change to another. Bureaux de change set these rates independently of the exchange rates announced by the Bank of Zambia.
- The bureau de change is obliged to publish on its exchange rate list only the least favourable exchange rate it offers. Some bureaux de change allow you to negotiate a more favourable exchange rate before the transaction depending, for example, on the amount being exchanged.
- The bureau de change is obliged to provide you well in advance, usually on a sheet of paper, with information about itself (its company name and registered address, the address of the bureau de change where the exchange is being made and, where applicable, another contact address, and its identification number); the exchange (the currencies between which the exchange is to be made, the exchange rate, the amount you wish to exchange, the total amount you would receive based on the exchange rate depending on the amount submitted for exchange and, where applicable, the exchange commission and the total amount you will receive taking into account the commission, and the date and time of the provision of information);
- Check whether the exchange rate and other conditions of the exchange match the exchange rate list and other information displayed in the bureau de change or are more favourable for you.
- If your signature is required on one copy of this information, sign only if you agree with the conditions. Keep one copy of the information for possible further use.
- Never hand over cash for exchange if you have not received and agreed to the information before the exchange.
- Insist on being issued with a confirmation slip for the service. The bureau de change is obliged to issue one.
- If the transaction has been executed in accordance with the information given to you in writing before the exchange (especially the exchange rate, the exchange commission and the amount of currency you are to obtain in the transaction), the bureau de change is not obliged to cancel the transaction.