Banking, Money and Taxes in Zambia

Zambia’s banking system has become more competitive in recent years, with both local and international banks offering a range of services to both Zambians and expats alike.

Money in Zambia

The currency in Zambia is the kwacha (ZMW, previously ZMK), which is subdivided into 100 ngwee. The Zambian kwacha is available in the following denominations:

  • Notes: 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 kwacha

  • Coins: 5, 10 and 50 ngwee and 1 kwacha

Banking in Zambia

There are a number of banks in Zambia for expats to choose from. Local banks include Zambia National Commercial Bank (the largest domestic bank), Finance Bank Zambia and Indo-Zambia Bank, while international banks operating in Zambia include Barclays, Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic, African Banking Corporation and Citibank.

Mobile and online banking services are available at most banks in Zambia.

Opening hours for Zambian banks are usually from 08:15 to 14:30, Monday to Friday. Most banks are closed on weekends. However, some larger banks in Lusaka are open on Saturday mornings.

Opening a bank account in Zambia

While it is possible to open a bank account in Zambia, many expats maintain an account in their own country. If opening a local account, it may be safer and easier to use an international bank which has a branch in the country. The documents needed to open a bank account in Zambia include:

  • an identification document (such as a passport)

  • payslip or proof of income

  • a reference/introduction letter from either one's employer or current bank

Exchanging money

Foreign currency exchange can be expensive in Zambian bureaux de change, especially with Euros which can elicit a charge of as much as 25 percent. US dollars should be brought into the country in notes of USD 50 and up, as there is a higher fee charged for changing small notes.

Money should not be changed on the streets, as many of these operations are part of a scam and unsuspecting expats risk being ripped off.

ATMS and credit cards

There are plenty of ATMs in the main cities such as Lusaka and Livingstone, but almost none in the rural areas. Don’t count on a particular ATM working. It’s worth planning expenditure ahead of time because of this unreliability.

While Zambia remains a largely cash society, credit cards are accepted at most large establishments in Zambian cities. Visa is the dominant credit card service in Zambia, and MasterCard and American Express cards are not as widely accepted. Additionally, most places that accept credit or debit cards are relatively expensive and buying cash goods is usually cheaper. Even with the higher costs, many places lay on an additional five percent charge for their bank costs. 

Taxes in Zambia

Tax regulations in Zambia are subject to change at short notice and expats should enlist the services of a registered tax consultant to assist them with their Zambian taxes. 

Income taxes in Zambia are implemented along a progressive scale from 0 to 35 percent, depending on income and resident status. Corporate tax is higher, and there is a specialised mining tax.

The tax year in Zambia runs from 1 April to 31 March.

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