Section 161 (1) of the bank of Uganda Act of 1993, mandates Bank of Uganda as the only authority mandated to issue Ugandan currency notes and coins as legal tender. Since 1966, the Ugandan currency has transitioned from different colors, shapes, and denominations over the years.

Evolution of Ugandan Currency

The first issue in 1966 had coins of 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, 1 shilling, 2 shilling and banknotes with a palm watermark of; 5 shillings, 10 shillings, 20 shillings and 100 shillings. The second issue was in 1973 which  came up as a result of Idd Amin taking over power. The denominations remained the same, though a 50 shilling note was also introduced. A portrait of Idd Amin was introduced on the banknotes.

In 1979, a new government came in power after overthrowing Idd Amin, replacing Idd Amin’s portrait with Bank of Uganda artistic impression. In 1983 new currency notes of 500 shillings and 1000 shillings were introduced with Milton Obote’s Portrait.

In 1985 a new government came into power over throwing Milton Obote, they maintained the denominations though replaced Milton Obote’s portrait with the National Emblem in the middle of the map of Uganda. It was in this year that a new bank note of shillings 5,000 was introduced.

In 1986, a  new government came into power introducing a totally new design of the currency. The new currency had coins of 5 cents, 1 shilling, 2 shillings. In 1995 a new denomination of 10,000 shillings  was introduced. In 1999 new denomination coins of 50, 100, 200 and 500 shillings were introduced. A year later, all notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 were all demonetized thus ceasing to be legal tender. The new currency only maintained the banknotes denominations of 1000, 5000, and 10,000 shillings. In this same year, the 20,000 shillings denomination was introduced. In 2003 the 50,000 shillings note was introduced, a year later the 10,000 shillings note was ungraded, and in 2006 the 20,000 shillings note was also upgraded.

In 2010 the new the currency notes that is being used today was introduced, it was then that the 2000 shillings note was introduced. All the notes were designed under the theme gifted by nature and Uganda through the times. In 2012 Uganda celebrated its 50th independence anniversary with a commemoration coin of 1000 shillings that is being used side by side with the other currency.

Today Uganda has denomination coins that are used is day to day business of  50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 shillings and banknotes of 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000, 20,000 and 50,000. Uganda’s currency has increasingly depreciated against the Euro,  the British pound, the dollar and many other currencies because of the increased consumption of foreign items.

For anyone using public means of transport for distances with in 20 kilometer radius from the capital, it is advisable for you to carry notes of 10,000  shillings or less to avoid delays that may arise in waiting for your balance.


Besides, for anyone encountering new currency, you might need a few tips on identifying the authenticity of the notes you are given.

  • The quality of the paper used is always similar to all the other international legal tender which is slim but thick at the same time.
  • A windowed security thread corresponding to the denomination
  • There are foil Images that tend to be distinctive in all the three notes that have this security feature
  • There is a prominent purple to green color on the color change image of denominations of 1000, 2000 and 5000
  • Every denomination carries a  see through image based on the different cultures of Uganda

Damaged Currency

There is no law concerning how to handle money notes, this implies that there is no identified procedure or way of handling legal tender in Uganda thus you are likely to encounter damaged legal tender. Though in some places  damaged legal tender will not be allowed to seal transactions, in case you receive any legal tender that is authentic but damaged, you may consider visiting a near by bank commercial bank to exchange it for one that is in great shop, or you may alternatively visit the bank of Uganda to exchange the damaged legal tender for a new one.