Despite growth in recent years, the banking sector in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) remains underdeveloped. The country has one of the lowest levels of banking penetration in the world, and only a small percentage of adults in the DRC have a bank account.
Money in the DRC
The currency of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the Congolese franc (CF or CDF), which is theoretically divided into 100 centimes. The DRC's currency is in banknotes only, and the smallest note in use is 50 francs.
Notes for Congolese francs: CDF 50; 100; 200; 500; 1,000; 2,000; 5,000; 10,000; 20,000
The most common banknotes are CDF 500 and 1,000.
The US dollar is also widely used in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Regulations determining in which situations the Congolese franc or the US dollar should be used have changed over time. In some cases, school fees, medical expenses, utilities, rent costs and taxes may be requested in CDF, and USD in other cases. However, it may be worth asking on a case-by-case basis.
Banking in the DRC
The Banque Centrale du Congo (BCC, or Central Bank of the Congo) oversees the country's banking system.
A few local banks operate in the country, with Rawbank being the largest. Microfinance institutions and savings cooperatives also exist. A selection of regional and foreign banks also has a presence in the country. This includes Equity Bank Congo and Standard Bank Congo, as well as Citibank.
These banks are mostly present in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi, and access to formal financial services is limited outside the main cities.
Opening a bank account
Due to the short-term nature of most expat contracts, it's not common for foreigners to open a bank account in the DRC. Employers normally arrange to pay expat employee salaries into their foreign accounts.
Expats wanting to open a bank account in the DRC typically consider one of the international banks represented in the country.
While commercial banks typically charge no service fees to establish an account, most require a minimum deposit or amount while the account is in use.
Credit cards and ATMs
ATMs are not widely available, although a few can be found in major urban centres. Bank cards such as Visa and Mastercard are accepted. However, credit cards are not widely used, though major hotels will accept them.
Taxes in the DRC
Individuals are taxed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on a progressive scale. Depending on the salary bracket, the tax rate could be 3, 15, 30 or 40 percent.
Several factors are considered to determine whether an expat is considered a resident for tax purposes. Typically, expats who have resided in the DRC for over 183 days in a year are considered tax residents, as well as those who have signed a lease agreement, among other factors.
Tax regulations are subject to change. When doing business in the DRC, we recommend consulting a tax specialist who has experience working with expats.
►See Doing business in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for information on local business etiquette and working culture
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