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I will be travelling through Zambia over Christmas and a lot of the activities I'll be doing require payment in USD, and I don't want to carry the full amount in cash for my entire trip.

I'll be in these cities: Chipata, Lusaka, and Livingstone.

Can I draw out USD from the ATM in these places?

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which cities will you be travelling through? –  Mark Mayo Oct 5 '12 at 20:43
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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

As per Lonely Planet discussion thread, only currency that can be withdrawn in Zambia is Zambian Kwacha.

If you have make payment in USD, then either carry the cash in USD or withdraw money in Zambian Kwacha and buy USD from the banks.

In case you decide to carry cash in USD, keep in mind few things (quoting from the above link) -

  • All USD must be new editions (2006 for some denominations and 2009 for others). No creases, no marks.
  • Carry large denominations ($50 and $100) as they can only be changed as the exchange bureau
  • All ATMs accept Visa cards, but most don't accept your Master Card

And also there was a ruling in June 2012 that companies are not allowed to deal in USD and can only accept the local currency Kwacha. So check with the places where you were asked to pay in USD once again, they might ask you to pay in Kwacha after this ruling.

PS: Zambia is changing its currency in January 2013 and dividing their currency by 1000

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I highly doubt that you can pull out USD anywhere else than in the US (though in some places you can). I'd say your best bet is to withdraw money in the local currency and go to a cash exchange house (or maybe a bank) for conversion to USD. It does seem odd that a place isn't accepting the local currency. In some countries, that is illegal (to refuse payment in the native currency).

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Actually there are many, many countries you can do this. The first time I encountered this was in Spain where it gave me the option of Euro or USD, but now I barely raise an eyebrow when I see it. Zimbabwe accepts the Rand, and even some places in Canada will accept the USD –  Mark Mayo Oct 12 '12 at 20:45
    
All ATMs in Zimbabwe are USD, for my experience finding them is the hard part. Also as @MarkMayo mentioned lots of places have multi currency machines. Airports often seem to have them as well. –  Stuart Oct 12 '12 at 21:05
    
Zimbabwe has de facto changed to USD though, so it's a special case. –  Rory Dec 3 '12 at 11:52
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