Every tourist before making a trip to a foreign country is firstly planning in details not only his route and the upcoming tour, but also takes care of the financial matters. Today we will tell you in detail what currency it is optimal to take when traveling to Georgia, as well as help you to orient correctly in searching for the main currency exchange offices and banks operating in Tbilisi.
Georgian National Currency
Like in most Soviet republics, Georgia before the collapse of the Soviet Union and restoration of the independence used the Soviet ruble. However, in October 1995, with the establishment of an independent republic, the National Bank of Georgia put into circulation the Georgian national currency called “lari”. Since then lari has become the sole legal tender currency in the whole Georgia. The word “lari”, selected for the monetary unit of Georgian national currency is an old Georgian word meaning “treasure” or “property”. 1 lari consists of 100 “tetri” – another old Georgian monetary term used from the 13th century.
On the international currency market lari is referred to as GEL. Nowadays in circulation are banknotes in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 GEL, as well as coins in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 tetri, and 1, 2 and 10 GEL.
The Georgian national currency is designed with an emphasis on the cultural heritage of the country. For example, on the front side of 1 GEL banknotes is portrayed Nico Pirosmanishvili notorious Georgian artist, amidst beautiful scenery. The portrait of Ivane Javakhishvili, a prominent Georgian academician, is depicted on 5 GEL banknotes. 10 GEL banknotes are issued with a portrait of Akaki Tsereteli, a prominent Georgian poet and a noticeable member of the new Georgian literature. 200 GEL banknotes featuring the image of Abkhazia and the inscriptions in the Georgian, Russian and Abkhaz languages are also interesting.
As mentioned above, in accordance with the Georgian legislation, all goods and services must be paid in local currency (GEL). Keep in mind that for the payment of foreign currency due penalty of 500 GEL. Therefore, to avoid problems, be sure to pay for goods and services in local currency. Keep in mind that in case of any payment in foreign currencies is owed a penalty of 500 GEL. Therefore, to avoid problems, be sure to pay for goods and services in the local currency.
Useful Tips for Tourists
In Georgia, like in any civilized country, problems with currency exchange will not occur. The most common currency in Georgia are US dollars, euros and rubles. Among less common currencies can be listed the Armenian dram, the Turkish lira, the Ukrainian hryvna, which can be exchanged in the main banks in the capital. You can exchange foreign currencies in many banks and specialized exchange offices, which are scattered all over Tbilisi. Currency exchange offices are mainly located near the metro stations (branches of Bank of Georgia), nearby hotels, large shopping malls and stores.
Currency exchange is available in the specialized exchange offices and banks. Banks are usually open on weekdays from 9: 00 to 17: 30-18: 00, and from 09:00-14:00 on Saturdays. Exchange offices are usually open until late evening. When exchanging money in banks be sure to bring ID card, whereas in the specialized exchange offices the presentation of ID is not necessary. Some of exchange office owners are putting high rates on signs, but often it does not correspond to reality. If you want to exchange currency in the exchange office instead of bank, it would be prudent to ask about the final sum in advance, and only then make the operation.
In Tbilisi and other major cities ATMs accepting foreign cards are widespread, but almost most of them when converting currency into GEL charge a commission of about 2% -3%, which is extremely disadvantageous. In the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, you can use VISA, EuroCard, MasterCard, Cirrus and Maestro credit cards in major hotels and supermarkets, again the fees are applied, which is not profitable from a financial point of view. Large banks accept traveler’s checks.
In private shops, hotels, and especially in provincial areas this type of payment is almost impossible. Therefore, going beyond the capital or major cities, you should better have a supply of local money in cash.
US dollars in Georgia have the advantage. Thus, the most profitable way from the financial point of view to come to Georgia is having the US dollars in cash. If you come from the CIS countries (Russia, Armenia, Ukraine, Belarus etc.) we recommend first to exchange the local currency at your home country into dollars or euros, and only then exchange USD or EUR into GEL in Georgia. Georgian currency is heavily dependent on the world currency leaders, the rates can vary significantly even during the day.
Banks in Georgia
Virtually any currency can be exchanged in banks. In addition, you can learn about the current rates in Georgia in advance without leaving your home. We present a list of central banks and their websites. The information about the numerous branches and their addresses you can find on the official websites presented below. The websites of the banks also provide information about the current GEL rate in relation to foreign currencies. It’s also possible to convert money online using exchange calculators.