For first time expats, moving into Mozambique can be a process as there are many aspects of daily life that we don’t really think of until we need to address them.
Banking services is certainly one of these aspects. From simple tasks such as everyday shopping to the sometimes-new habit of managing different currencies, there is certainly a learning curve to those moving to the “Land of good people”. For that reason, we teamed up with Millennium bim Bank, an institution we are very familiar with, to create a six-chapter series on the basics of banking in Mozambique to help you settle in. Welcome to Understanding – Expat Mozambique.
Chapter 2: How to operate foreign currency accounts in Mozambique
We have already covered how easy it is to open a bank account in Mozambique, however there are a number of reasons you may want to keep in funds in different currencies. Perhaps your salary is paid in a foreign currency, you are trading with a foreign country or you simply want to control your exchange exposure. Whatever the reason, in Mozambique, opening an account in most key foreign currency is not very complicated. By key I mean euros, US dollars, South African Rand and British Pounds.
Opening and operating a foreign currency account is regulated under Mozambique’s exchange laws (Lei Cambial Lei nº11/2009, Aviso nº 20/GBM/2017 e Aviso nº 04/GBM/2018 – Link in Portuguese)
In order to make your life easier, we highly recommend that you open an account in local currency (Mozambique Metical) so that you can use ATMs, make local payments, etc.
Once that’s done, tell your account manager about your currency of choice, and since you have already provided the bank with the necessary documentation for the initial account, all you have to do is sign some forms.
Here are some key things to understand when operating an account in foreign currency:
- Withdrawing foreign currency is only authorized for travel purposes and you must provide supporting documentation for each individual transaction.
- Although there is a good network of ATMs in all major cities (especially if you work with Millennium bim), you can only withdraw Mozambican Meticais. In order to withdraw foreign currency from your account, you will need to physically go to a branch and complete a slip. Regulations limit withdrawals to US$10,000 and transfers up to US$5,000. Anything above these limits need to be justified and will require forex negotiation.
- While there is a good network of ATMs in all major cities (particularly if you are banking with Millennium bim), you can only withdraw Mozambican Meticais. In order to withdraw foreign currency from your account, you will need to physically go to a branch and fill up a whit draw slip.
- It is always a good idea to give a heads up to your branch manager when you intend to withdraw foreign currency before you visit them in order to make sure they have the funds available, although in my personal experience, most Millennium bim branches can usually accommodate regular requests on the spot or at a very short notice.
- For personal purposes, you may transfer funds from a foreign currency account to another foreign currency account. You can also transfer from foreign currency account to a Meticais account that enters any exchange process.
- You can access your foreign currency balance using electronic banking channels such as mobile banking, internet banking and through the Millennium bim customer support line.
- You cannot access your foreign currency balance using your debit card. You will need to convert your balance into Mozambican Meticais in order to do so.
- Keep in mind that regulations are constantly changing and you should always check the limits and procedures before doing a transaction.
A foreign currency account is a much simpler way to send and receive funds internationally, but that’s a subject to our next chapter, so stay tuned.