The Sri Lankan Rupee, the currency of Sri Lanka, is composed of 100 cents. The Central Bank of Sri Lanka issues banknotes from Rs10 to Rs2000 and coins, in 5 different denominations, from 50 cents to Rs10.
The most freely convertible foreign currency in Sri Lanka is the US Dollar.
- Banknotes in Sri Lanka are currently issued in the following denominations: Rs10, Rs20, Rs50, Rs100, Rs200, Rs500, Rs1000 and Rs2000.
- Both the British pound and the Indian rupee were the currency of Ceylon, the former name of Sri Lanka, in the 19th century.
- As a rule, Sri Lanka"s banks are open from 9am to 3pm on weekdays. (Some open on Saturday mornings).
- Most ATMs accept Cirrus, Maestro, and other common card providers worldwide.
- Change your money back before leaving. Many foreign banks do not exchange Sri Lankan Rupees.
The Sri Lankan Rupee
The Sri Lankan Rupee (code: LKR; abbr: ₨) is the official currency of Sri Lanka, issued by the Sri Lankan Central Bank. The abbreviation locally is usually “Rs.”, but the "LKR" code may be used to distinguish it from other currencies with the same name in such nations as India, Pakistan, Indonesia, the Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, and the Seychelles.
When dealing with the larger denomination notes of 500, 1000 and 2000 Rupees you may experience some difficulty in obtaining change for low-price items purchased in smaller outlets. Consequently it is best when changing money to have a good supply of lower denomination banknotes for basic purchases.
How to Change Money in Sri Lanka
There are many venues for currency exchange in Sri Lanka easily found at airports, in banks, or in various currency exchange outlets. Alternatively you can draw cash directly from your credit or debit card at an ATM.
When you bring cash into the country for exchange purposes you should ensure the bills are crisp and undamaged, otherwise banks and money changers will not accept them. Bring cash with smaller denominations as some exchange services will not accept larger denomination banknotes.
When you arrive at the Bandaranaike International Airport, (the main international airport serving Sri Lanka), many currency exchanges counters and ATMs are to be found in the arrival lounge when you leave the customs clearance area. Money changers may seem the quick and easy option when traveling around the island of Sri Lanka, and their rates are competitive. However, this is also be the least secure method and scams are frequent. Consequently it may be best to avoid them.
US Dollars to Sri Lankan Rupees
As a rough guide, (please check current rates before making any exchange), the following are the extremes in the rate of fluctuation for the year preceding March 25, 2020:
- For one US Dollar: Rs174.11 and Rs188.04
However, you will receive less money than the central rate to allow for the exchange service to make a profit. In assessing what is on offer you should always check the rate immediately before you make your exchange.
You should also check whether an additional commission, on top of the weighted rate from which currency services generally derive their profits, is charged.
Euros and British Pounds to Sri Lankan Rupees
In addition to the US Dollar, the Euro and the British Pound Sterling may be readily exchanged for Sri Lankan Rupees at any bank or exchange bureau. The method of changing Euros and British pounds to Sri Lankan Rupees is much the same as for US Dollars.
Again as a rough guide, (please check current rates before making any exchange), the following are the extremes in the rate of fluctuation for the year preceding March 25, 2020:
- For one Euro: Rs195.06 to Rs208.87.
- For one Pound Sterling: Rs212.66 to 243.75.
Banks and Banking Hours in Sri Lanka
The largest bank in Sri Lanka is the Commercial Bank of Ceylon. It has some 250 branches and 625 ATMs across the country, as well as branches in Bangladesh. Another large presence is ICICI Bank, an Indian multinational with operations in nineteen countries including Dubai, Qatar, and the US.
Business hours of banks and other institutions in Sri Lanka: