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Bringing Dirhams into Morocco

I've read that there are ATMs all over Morocco, so in theory we should be able to withdraw Dirhams when we arrive. However, just in case the ATMs do not recognize our particular bank card, we would like to have a plan B, particularly since it seems that Morocco is still very much a cash society away from major tourist hotels, etc.

The obvious solution would be to bring cash with us, then visit a bureau de change at the airport. However, we will be arriving Saturday evening and I am not sure that the bureaux de change will be open either Saturday night or Sunday.

The second obvious solution would be to buy Dirhams before we leave and bring them into the country. However, I have read that the Dirham is a closed currency and you can only get away with bringing 1000 dhs (about $100) into the country. Ideally, I'd like to bring at least $300-$400 worth.

I know all this worrying about cash flow might sound a little paranoid, but my husband and I had a horrible experience related to this very issue back in the early '90s. We arrived in Munich after everything in the airport was closed. We did not have a single Deutschmark to our name. No one would accept dollars. Taxis and other forms of transportation would not take credit cards. We didn't even have the coinage to make a phone call to a local friend who could have helped us out. Our German was crappy. Four stressful hours later, we finally found a way to get out of there. Never, ever again!

So, ideas?

[ETA: Yes, I realize that there is a similar thread on this page. I looked through it and it did not answer my question.]

Posted by
16883 posts

It is a closed currency and not worth the hassle to try to buy ahead. Airport bureau de change booths are going to be open the longest hours of anyone. If they're not open, and if there also are no ATMs operating, somebody will accept your US dollars or euros at whatever rate they decide is fair, including probably cab drivers. If necessary, the cab driver can stop at a different ATM en route to your destination.

Debit cards with a Visa or MasterCard logo are most widely accepted. Cirrus or Plus logos should also be an option, if those networks are still around. Debit cards don't need a chip; it's my understanding that all ATMs are hard-wired with the requisite internet access to work with a magnetic-strip card.

Posted by
6882 posts

Try to use an ATM - it's the cheapest option. Google the airport and see if you can find exact locations on an airport map (or ask on Tripadvisor the exact locations - they're sometimes hidden while the currency exchange bureaus are always prominently displayed to steer passengers to them). Only if you can't find an airport ATM, go to plan B. I would expect that a lot of things have changed since the early '90s, so maybe that's not the best benchmark to use.

Posted by
287 posts

I was there about 6 years ago and for my own comfort I purchased some dirhams before I left Canada. I liked the security of having local currency. Think I took about 1000 dirhams and hit an atm as soon as I was at my hotel. I don't usually travel with US cash and Canadian dollars are not accepted as widely as American.

Wendy

Posted by
29 posts

Sallam 'lekum Janet,
It's wonderful to see that you are returning to Morocco again after visiting in 2006. I commend you for thinking of a Plan B just in case you aren't able to access any Moroccan dirham upon your arrival. As I have previously mentioned, we have welcomed travelers to Morocco before who have unfortunately struggled to access an ATM that will accept their card. I know many other travelers/forum posters doubt this...but it happens to at least one or two of our clients every year. So I say go ahead and buy some dirham prior to your arrival, if that's what is going to make you feel comfortable. Yes, you should be able to access an ATM, change some foreign cash at a bureau de change, or pay for an airport taxi in US dollars or Euro...but if you'd rather get some dirham before you depart, then go ahead. If you can only buy 1000dh (just between you and me...nobody is going to actually ask you to physically show how much dirham you have in your pocket upon your arrival), that would still be enough to get you to your accommodation and enjoy a first night meal.
I wish you a memorable journey.
Darren Humphrys

Posted by
29 posts

My apologies Janet,
I only just realized that it was Wendy that has previously been to Morocco, and not yourself. Even better then, that this will be your first visit to the magical land of kasbahs and medinas.
Your fellow traveller,
Darren