Currency and Money Matters in Georgia

1. What is the official currency of Georgia?

The official currency of Georgia is the Georgian lari (GEL).

2. Are there any restrictions on foreign currency transactions in Georgia?

There are no significant restrictions on foreign currency transactions in Georgia. The country has a fully convertible currency and there are no limits on the amount of foreign currency that can be imported or exported. However, individuals must declare amounts over 10,000 USD when entering or exiting the country.

In addition, foreign currency transactions must be conducted through licensed banks and financial institutions. Non-residents are allowed to open bank accounts in Georgia and hold funds in both domestic and foreign currencies. There are no restrictions on transfers of funds into or out of these accounts.

Foreign exchange operations may also be subject to anti-money laundering regulations and customer due diligence procedures.

Overall, while there are some regulations in place, they do not significantly restrict foreign currency transactions in Georgia for individuals or businesses.

3. What is the current exchange rate for local currency to US dollar in Georgia?

As of June 2021, the current exchange rate for Georgian Lari (GEL) to US Dollars (USD) is approximately 3.32 GEL to 1 USD. However, exchange rates can vary depending on factors such as the currency exchange location and method of transaction.

4. Is it better to use cash or credit cards for purchases in Georgia?

It depends on personal preference and the specific situation. Credit cards may offer rewards, convenience, and better security for large purchases, while cash may be more suitable for smaller transactions or in areas where cards are not widely accepted. It is important to always have some cash on hand in case of emergencies or in places where card payments are not accepted.

5. Do businesses in Georgia typically accept US dollars or do they prefer local currency?

Businesses in Georgia typically prefer local currency, which is the Georgian lari (GEL). However, some touristic areas or high-end establishments may accept US dollars as a form of payment. It is always best to check with the specific business beforehand to see what forms of currency they accept.

6. Are there any hidden fees or charges when exchanging money in Georgia?

It is always advisable to check with your bank or currency exchange provider about any fees or charges associated with exchanging money in Georgia. However, some common fees and charges that you may encounter include transaction fees, service fees, and commission charges. Additionally, some banks or exchange offices may have a minimum amount for currency exchanges, which could result in lower amounts being exchanged. It is important to clarify all fees and charges before making a currency exchange to avoid any unexpected costs.

7. Can I use ATMs from my home country bank in Georgia to withdraw money?

It is possible to use ATMs from your home country bank in Georgia to withdraw money, however, it is important to check with your bank beforehand as they may charge additional fees for international withdrawals. You should also inform your bank of your travels to avoid any issues with using your card abroad. Additionally, be aware that the exchange rate used by the ATM may vary from the official exchange rate and you may incur foreign transaction fees. It may be more cost effective to withdraw money in local currency at an ATM or exchange currency at a bank or exchange office once you arrive in Georgia.

8. Is it necessary to tip service workers and what is the customary amount in Georgia?

Tipping is not mandatory in Georgia, but it is appreciated for good service. The customary amount for tipping service workers varies depending on the type of service and the individual’s discretion.
For restaurants, a tip of 10-15% is commonly expected. For hotel staff, it is polite to leave a small tip (around 5 GEL) for housekeeping or bellhop services. For taxi drivers, rounding up the fare is considered sufficient. In general, tips are not expected for services such as haircuts or grocery store bagging. However, if someone goes above and beyond their job duties, they may be tipped at the customer’s discretion. Ultimately, tipping in Georgia is based on personal preference and should only be given if the customer feels satisfied with the level of service provided.

9. Can I purchase traveler’s checks before traveling to Georgia, and are they widely accepted?

Yes, you can purchase traveler’s checks before traveling to Georgia. They are not as widely accepted as credit and debit cards, but they can still be used at some hotels, banks, and larger stores. It is recommended to have a mix of payment methods when traveling to Georgia.

10. Are there any restrictions or limits on bringing foreign currency into or out of Georgia?

There are no restrictions or limits on bringing foreign currency into or out of Georgia. However, if the amount exceeds 30,000 GEL (approximately $10,000), it must be declared to customs officials upon arrival or departure. Additionally, any amount over 100,000 GEL (approximately $33,000) must be accompanied by a bank statement confirming the source of the funds. Failure to declare large amounts of currency may result in confiscation or other penalties. It is also recommended to keep proof of exchange transactions when converting foreign currency to Georgian Lari.

11. Do major hotels and restaurants accept credit cards, and if so, which types are most commonly accepted?

Yes, major hotels and restaurants typically accept credit cards. The most commonly accepted types of credit cards are Visa and Mastercard, followed by American Express and Discover. However, it is always best to check with the specific hotel or restaurant beforehand to see which types of credit cards they accept.

12. Are there any unique features of the currency used in Georgia, such as coins with different values or special designs?

One unique feature of the currency used in Georgia is that it uses both coins and banknotes. The coins are used for smaller denominations (1, 2, 5, 10, and 20 tetri) while banknotes are used for larger denominations (5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 lari).
Another unique aspect is that the Georgian currency features prominent historical figures on some of its banknotes. For example, the 20 tetri coin features a portrait of King David the Builder, who was a famous ruler in medieval Georgia. Additionally, one side of the 50 lari note features a portrait of Queen Tamar, another influential monarch in Georgian history.

13. Is haggling acceptable when making purchases, especially in markets and smaller shops?

In many cultures, haggling or bargaining is common when making purchases in markets and smaller shops. However, in some cultures it may not be accepted, so it is important to observe the local customs and norms before attempting to haggle. It is also important to do so politely and respectfully, as aggressive or disrespectful haggling can be seen as rude. If you are unsure, it is best to ask a local for guidance or observe how others are interacting with the shopkeeper before attempting to negotiate a price.

14. Can I pay for goods and services with a mix of both local currency and US dollars?

Yes, in many countries it is possible to pay for goods and services with a mix of local currency and US dollars. However, this may not be accepted everywhere and the exchange rate may not always be favorable. It is best to check with businesses beforehand to see if they accept a combination of currencies.

15. What is the most convenient way to exchange money while traveling through different regions of Georgia?

The most convenient way to exchange money while traveling through different regions of Georgia is to use ATM machines, which are widely available in major cities and tourist areas. You can also exchange money at banks, currency exchange offices, and some hotels. It is advisable to carry US dollars or euros, as they are widely accepted and can be easily exchanged into the local currency. Additionally, most major credit cards are accepted at hotels, restaurants, and shops in tourist areas.

16. Are there alternative forms of payment in addition to cash and credit cards, such as mobile payments or digital wallets in Georgia?

Yes, there are alternative forms of payment in addition to cash and credit cards in Georgia. Some popular options include:

1. Mobile Payments: Mobile payment services such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google Pay are widely accepted by merchants in Georgia. These services allow users to store their credit or debit card information on their smartphones and make purchases by simply tapping or scanning their device at a contactless payment terminal.

2. Digital Wallets: Digital wallets are also gaining popularity in Georgia, with services like PayPal, Venmo, and Cash App becoming increasingly popular among consumers. These digital wallets allow users to link their bank accounts or credit cards and make online purchases without having to enter their financial information each time.

3. E-Wallets: Some Georgian banks offer e-wallet services that allow customers to hold funds electronically and make payments directly from the wallet using a mobile app or website.

4. QR Code Payments: Some merchants in Georgia also accept payments via QR code technology, where customers scan a code displayed at the merchant’s location using their mobile banking app to make a payment.

5. Prepaid Cards: Prepaid cards are available for purchase at many retailers in Georgia and can be used as an alternative form of payment for those who do not have a bank account or credit card.

6. Crypto Payments: While still not widely accepted, some businesses in the major cities of Georgia have started accepting cryptocurrency payments like Bitcoin.

It is always best to check with the merchant beforehand to see which forms of payment they accept.

17. Is tipping expected during taxi rides, at hotels, or at other specific locations like spas or salons in Georgia?

Yes, tipping is expected in Georgia, especially in the service industry. In general, it is customary to tip around 10-15% at restaurants, bars, and cafes. Tipping is also appreciated at hotels, particularly for porter and concierge services. At spas and salons, a tip of 10-20% is customary for good service. It is also common to tip taxi drivers around 10-15%. Overall, tipping is a personal choice and should be based on the quality of service received.

18. Are there certain stores where tourists can receive tax refunds on their purchases before leaving Georgia?

According to the Georgian National Tourism Administration, tourists can receive tax refunds on their purchases at certain stores in Georgia. These include:

1. Tbilisi Duty Free
2. Batumi Duty Free
3. Kutaisi Airport Duty Free
4. Poti Sea Port Duty Free

In addition, tourists can also receive tax refunds at various shopping malls and retail stores that are part of the Tax Free Georgia program. These include major retail chains such as Goodwill, Spark, and New Balance.

To receive the tax refund, tourists must request a VAT refund form from the participating store at the time of purchase and present it along with their passport and proof of purchase (receipt) at the departure point (airport or port). The refund amount will be paid in cash or deposited to a debit/credit card within 10 days after leaving Georgia.

It is important to note that not all purchases are eligible for tax refunds and there is a minimum purchase amount required. For more information on eligible purchases and procedures for receiving tax refunds, tourists can visit the official website of Tax Free Georgia (

19..How should I handle my leftover foreign currency when departing from Georgia, including coins and smaller bills?

Here are some options for handling your leftover foreign currency when departing from Georgia:

1. Exchange it for your home currency: The most straightforward option would be to exchange your foreign currency for your home currency at a bank or exchange kiosk at the airport. However, this may not be the most cost-effective option as you may incur fees and unfavorable exchange rates.

2. Keep it for your next trip: If you plan on returning to Georgia in the future, you can hold onto your leftover currency and use it on your next trip. This is a good option if you have a significant amount of money left.

3. Use it for duty-free purchases: Many airports have duty-free shops where you can use foreign currency to make purchases. Take advantage of this option if you have smaller bills or coins that cannot be exchanged easily.

4. Donate it: Consider donating your leftover foreign currency to a charitable organization before leaving Georgia. Some airports or airlines may have donation boxes where you can deposit any unused coins or bills.

5. Sell it online: Another option is to sell your leftover foreign currency online through websites such as eBay or Travelex. However, keep in mind that the exchange rates may not be favorable and there could be additional fees involved.

6. Convert coins into souvenirs: If you have small coins that cannot be exchanged, consider turning them into souvenirs instead. Some tourists like to collect coins from different countries as mementos from their travels.

It’s always a good idea to plan ahead and try to spend or exchange most of your foreign currency before leaving a country, but if you do end up with some left over, these options can help you make the most out of it.

20. Is there a limit on the amount of local currency I can withdraw from ATMs in Georgia each day?

Yes, most ATMs in Georgia have a daily withdrawal limit of 2,000 GEL (approximately $700 USD) per day. However, some banks may have higher or lower limits, so it is best to check with your specific bank for their daily withdrawal limit. It is also worth noting that some ATMs may charge additional fees for international withdrawals.