Currency exchange

The currency used in Morocco is the Moroccan Dirham, often abbreviated as MAD.

 
 
 

 

The exchange rates fluctuates, at the time of writing one British Pound is worth approximately 14 dirhams; one Euro is closer to 11 dirhams and a Dollar to 10 dirhams.

The Moroccan Dirham is a closed currency, so by law you are not allowed to import or export Moroccan Dirhams.  You will not be able to exchange money before leaving the UK, and you are not allowed to take more than 2000 Dirhams into or out of the country. Foreign currency may be exchanged at the Bureau de Change at the airport on arrival, at a bank or a small amount at your hotel.  There are many ATM machines both at the airports and in larger towns for cash withdrawal.  A rule of thumb is not to exchange too much money at one time, so as not to be left with too much currency when leaving the country.  When changing dirhams back, you will usually be given Euros in exchange for Dirhams, but can ask for Sterling instead.

Upmarket restaurants, shops and hotels or riads in Morocco usually accept debit cards.  Those that do are most likely to accept Visa or MasterCard however may apply a surcharge to cover the cost of processing your transaction. Amex is not a popular card.

Almost all hotels normally exchange money at the same rate as banks and do not charge a commission. However, do not expect a small hotel in the south, for example, to change £250 without prior notice. Most hotels and reputable shops will accept major credit cards – VISA, Master Card and American Express. Even in the markets when buying such things as carpets, leather or any other major item, certain cards may be accepted. Maestro and other debits cards are becoming more widely accepted, but there are still some shops and restaurants that you will not be able to use them. VISA and Mastercard and debit cards can be used in ATM’s (found in the larger cities) and in some, but not all, hotels, restaurants and shops.

Please note that it is now difficult or impossible to change Travellers Cheques in Morocco.

It is usually helpful to tell your bank you will be using your card abroad, and maybe take several cards in case one bank doesn’t listen! Advise your bank or card issuer that you intend to travel abroad so that no block will be put on the usage of your credit or ATM cards. Notify the issuer and give them a 'phone number where you can be contacted abroad.

Before travelling, ensure you make a note of all credit card numbers and associated contact numbers for card issuers in case of difficulty. The numbers are usually free to call as you can reverse the charges, make it clear to the operator at your hotel, riad etc that you wish the call charge to be reversed. Pre-paid cards, with good exchange rates and low withdrawal fees eg fairFX are becoming a popular option as money is protected if the card gets lost or stolen. These are accepted in Moroccan ATMs anywhere you see the Mastercard logo and in some shops too.

ATMs can now be found in abundance in most towns and accept Visa, Maestro, Cirrus etc but these will usually incur charges. You should check with your bank as charges for using ATMs abroad may make exchanging cash a better option.

Popular destinations such as Tangier, Marrakech, Agadir etc have ATM's in large tourist international hotels as well as on all main roads. The medina of Marrakech has in excess of 20 ATMs. 

Using a credit card (VISA etc) to obtain money from ATM's is also possible but one must remember that interest is charged from the moment money is dispensed. The normal practice of an interest-free period which applies to purchases, typically over 50 days, made on the card does NOT apply to cash withdrawals. Banks will allow cheques to be cashed but must be supported by a guarantee card.

ATMs generally dispense only 100 and 200 dirham notes so getting change for small everyday purchases like water, taxis etc can be a challenge. At weekends you may have difficulty acquiring cash as machines are sometimes not restocked until the following Monday. Sometimes your card may work in some machines and not others, or may support smaller withdrawals rather than larger ones, and may work at some times and not others. You should ensure you have a backup means of funding your visit. ATMs usually dispense 3000dh or so, but other limits may apply dependent on your bank.

 

When bringing paper currency into Morocco (U.S. Dollars, British Pounds, Euros etc.), these must be in good condition--no tears or ink marks. Do not bring Scottish, Gibraltar or Northern Irish Sterling notes as they are impossible to cash, as are Australian and New Zealand notes and Singapore Dollars.  Beware of bringing in brand new designs of banknotes, for example when the Bank of England introduced the new 'Adam Smith' £20 note in March 2007, the Moroccan banks would not change them as their records only showed the older, and at that time still legal, 'Sir Edward Elgar' £20 notes.

For visitors from outside the Eurozone, there is little point converting your home currency into Euros (€) only to exchange these into Dirhams. Some travelers frequently ask if they should convert, say, $U.S in € only to exchange € into Dh on arrival in Morocco. There is no point doing this as $U.S are accepted for exchange in Morocco. Whilst the paragraph above mentions currencies which should not be taken into Morocco, it may be read that other major world currencies are accepted.

Don't bring coins in your currency to use as tips as they are hard for the locals to exchange and they get a very poor rate of exchange so have to pester other tourists to try and change them.

Some shops, Riads/hotels and especially restaurants quote prices in Euros and Dirhams; in the days where there were 10 dirhams to the euro it made conversion easy, now 1€ (Euro) is approx. equivalent to 11Dh but some traders still prefer to use the rate of ten to one which means you are slightly overcharged. If your Riad or hotel has only quoted in Euros (many do to make it easier for guests to understand) ask for the price in Dirhams so you can pay in the local currency.