Currency

The Omani Riyal and international transfers

Since the Omani riyal (OR) is linked to the US dollar, its value is tied to the strength of that currency.

The Omani riyal (OR) is divided into 1,000 baiza (or baisa). Coins are 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 baiza, notes are 100 and 200 baiza, and OR0.5, 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50.

It’s wise to have some local currency when you arrive in order to cover small purchases and taxi fares, especially if your sponsor or co-workers will not be meeting you at the airport.

Currency exchanges and banking facilities are available at most major airports and many are open 24 hours a day. While these locations are conveniently located, they usually offer unfavorable exchange rates. Hotels in particular are notorious for offering terrible exchange rates, so you should avoid changing money at them if at all possible.

City-centre financial establishments tend to offer the most competitive rates.

Importing & Exporting Money

There are no restrictions on the import and export of funds into and out of Oman.

Anyone holding a residence visa in Oman is allowed to open a bank account, and to import and export funds. No declarations of currency are required, so travellers can move currencies in and out without restriction and in any form that they choose.

Oman does not require you to declare currency when you enter the country, so you can bring or transfer any currency in any amount.

Since money transfer has been a lucrative Omani industry for many years, international bank transfers are reliable and convenient. Many expatriates take advantage of this by opening offshore bank accounts in order to avoid income tax from their home countries.

Many people find it convenient to use their own bank to transfer money overseas, but there are plenty of other institutions that offer this service, so shop around to obtain the best deal. The costs of overseas money transfers depend on exchange rates and institutions´ commission charges. In many cases attractive exchange rates are made unmanagable by additional fees. The receiving bank will usually charge a fee as well.

Apart from banks, there are plenty of exchange companies operating in Oman. These are operated by longstanding trading families with great experience in finance, and many offer better rates than banks. Different transfer systems are available, and in most cases the speed of the transfer determines its cost. The faster your money is transferred, the more you will have to pay.

Transferring money

Transfer methods include: postal, bank-to-bank, telex, telegraphic and SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication).

Electronic transfer is usually the quickest method, though delays can occur if currency must be converted for deposit or you are transferring between different financial institutions. It’s simpler and quicker to send money between branches of the same bank or banks with close affiliations. You should monitor the charges being made at the various stages until the money arrives in your account. If you see any charges that strike you as excessive or strange, call your bank and check on them.

If you intend to send significant amounts of money abroad for business transactions (such as buying property), ask for the commercial rate of exchange. It will probably be significantly cheaper than the standard rate (tourist rate) that you see quoted in your newspaper or posted on the bank’s currency exchange board.

Another way to transfer money is to use a bank cheque or draft, which you can send yourself by registered mail or courier, even through bank-to-bank mail. The downside to this is that if the transfer is lost or stolen, you will probably lose your mind while navigating bank bureaucracy trying to recover your money. Personal cheques can be sent, though as always they are subject to delays while banks wait for them to clear. For example: a personal cheque in US dollars made out to a British Pounds account will go from a UK bank to a New York clearing system before the funds finally return to your account. Obviously, this takes some time.

If you do send money by cheque or bank draft, take special care to verify that you have filled out all the the required paperwork and the draft itself correctly.

Further reading

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