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I'm visiting Dakar, Senegal in a couple of days for a scientific workshop. We won't be travelling much but I will need enough local currency (which is the West African CFA franc) for a meal or two and the visa, which I gather we buy at the airport. I have three closely-related questions:

  • Is there likely to be any problem drawing cash out when I arrive, and are there any restrictions on taking any unspent notes/coins out of the country?

  • Is the CFA franc actually used in practice or am I better taking some cash in dollars etc?

  • Am I likely to have the option to use my debit card to pay in restaurants and if so are there any obvious reasons not to do so?

  • My answer is based on experiences last spring in Dakar. It occurs to me that the situtation (especially with regard to restaurants) could be quite different elsewhere in the country. Are you going to be in Dakar? – phoog Oct 7 '16 at 15:01
  • Sorry - yes, Dakar. I will edit that into the question. – tardigrade Oct 8 '16 at 6:52
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That's five questions.

Is there likely to be any problem drawing cash out when I arrive?

No.

Are there any restrictions on taking any unspent notes/coins out of the country?

Not that I'm aware of, but I wouldn't necessarily be.

Is the CFA franc actually used in practice or am I better taking some cash in dollars etc?

Yes, the CFA franc is actually used in practice. I never spent a single dollar while I was there, and I didn't get the impression that people would prefer dollars. It's probably possible to use them, but you would likely get a less-than-favorable exchange rate.

Am I likely to have the option to use my debit card to pay in restaurants?

Upscale restaurants aimed at the international community generally accept card payments. Less expensive restaurants are less likely to do so.

Are there any obvious reasons not to do so?

None that are obvious to me.

  • 1
    @pnuts: The regulation you are linking to is last updated in 2001. My French is not very good, but doesn't the following restriction (equivalent to XOF 500,000) for non-residents only apply to foreign currency (hors-zone = outside the CFA zone)? 'Contre-valeur de 500.000 FCFA des billets hors-zone franc dont ils sont porteurs.' Source: Senegal Customs douanes.sn/fr/node/94 If I understand it correctly, you can exceed this amount if you declared the currency when entering Senegal or have a withdrawal receipt from a bank. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Oct 7 '16 at 17:05
  • Excellent, thank you. The limit is unlikely to be an issue for me but I suppose it could help anyone else who comes looking for this in the future. – tardigrade Oct 8 '16 at 7:01

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