Banking, Money and Taxes in Ghana
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Expats moving to Ghana will find that financial matters in this West African destination aren't overly complicated, as one might initially expect. Banking in Ghana is actually very easy once new arrivals have opened an account in Ghana, and tax laws are straightforward.
Money in Ghana
The Ghanaian currency is the Cedi (GHS) and is divided into 100 pesewas (Gp).
The US Dollar (USD) is widely accepted in restaurants and stores, especially in cities, but smaller notes and traveller's cheques are not always accepted.
Notes: 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 GHS
Coins: 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 Gp and 1 GHS
Currency exchange agencies are widely available and usually offer a competitive exchange rate, but will either give a lower rate on small denominations or not accept them at all. Most Forex Bureaux do not require identification, but exchange desks at hotels usually require expats to present their passport. The rates are usually much better at the currency exchange agencies.
It's fairly easy to bring money into Ghana, but strict maximums exist for taking money out of the country. Expats should be careful not to accumulate too many cedis, as they may have problems taking the money out of Ghana.
Credit cards and ATMs
ATMs are commonplace in Ghanaian cities, and most international VISA cards are accepted at these machines. MasterCard and American Express are far less common, so expats planning to withdraw from an international account should make an effort to get a Visa card.
Ghana is a predominantly cash-based society, and the prevalence of credit card fraud makes it unwise to use cards too liberally. Credit card and ATM facilities are also quite rare in rural areas of Ghana.
Banking in Ghana
All banks in Ghana do business in English, as this is the official language of the country. Most banks offer current and savings accounts, letters of credit and loans to citizens and expats alike, but interest rates on loans can be high.
To open a bank account in Ghana, most establishments require that expats show their passport as identification, a letter of introduction from a bank in their home country, a personal reference from current account holders of the bank and a reference from an employer in Ghana.
For those earning a foreign currency for their work in Ghana, it is best to set up an offshore account with a major bank. The bank will have a financial adviser that can assist expats with this process. The offshore account will be linked to a proper Visa debit card, which can be used internationally at any Visa point of sale, or online with services such as Paypal. It is not a good idea to have foreign currency paid into a local bank account in Ghana, as it will be difficult to take money out when leaving the country.
Barclays Bank, Standard Chartered and Stanbic are all international banks that are represented in Ghana and are recommended for expats.
Taxes in Ghana
Foreigners living in Ghana for 183 days or more during a 12-month period are considered tax residents of the country and must pay taxes based on their worldwide income.
Taxes in Ghana are charged on a graduated scale, while non-tax residents are charged a flat rate on their income derived from within the country. Most companies in Ghana cover the applicable taxes for their expat employees and pay either an offshore salary or a combination of an offshore and local salary.
Expats should consult a financial adviser to ensure that they have a full understanding of taxes in Ghana.