US Dollar (USD; symbol $) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of $100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1, though the $2 bill is rare and is not in high circulation. Coins are in denominations of $1, and 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1 cents.
Most major credit cards are accepted throughout the USA, including American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa. Visitors are advised to carry at least one major credit card, as it is common to request pre-payment or a credit card imprint for hotel rooms and car hire, even when final payment is not by credit card. Be sure to check with your card issuer for current surcharge rates imposed for use of the card outside your home country. You should also inform your issuer that you are travelling for a specified period so your card is not flagged or temporarily suspended.
Bank-issued debit cards are accepted at many businesses in the US; however, using them to pay for many travel-related expenses, such as car hire and hotel rooms, often incurs a surcharge, deposit, or a hold on your account.
ATMs are widely available across the country.
Widely accepted in US Dollar cheques; Pound Sterling traveller's cheques are rarely accepted and few banks will honour them. Change is issued in US Dollars. One or two items of identification (passport, credit card, driving licence) will be required.
Variable, but generally Mon-Fri 0830-1700. In major cities such as New York, newer banks are competing with one another and have extended hours, including weekend service.
There are no restrictions on the import or export of local or foreign currency. However, amounts in excess of US$10,000 or equivalent should be declared at customs.
Hotels do not, as a rule, exchange currency and only a few major banks will exchange foreign currency, so it is advisable to arrive with US Dollars, or exchange foreign currency at the airport upon arrival.
United States of America duty free
The following goods may be imported by visitors over 21 years of age into the USA without incurring customs duty:
• 200 cigarettes or 100 cigars.
• 1L of alcoholic beverage.
• Goods up to a value of US$800 (returning residents who have been out of the country for at least 48 hours; this limit is applicable once every 30 days and is reduced to US$200 for travellers who have already used the allowance or have been out of the USA for less than 48 hours).
• Goods up to a value of US$100 (non-residents visiting the USA for at least 72 hours).
Travellers arriving from certain Caribbean and Latin American countries may import up to 2L of alcoholic beverages, as long as at least 1L was produced in one of the applicable countries.
US residents returning from a US insular possession (American Samoa, Guam or US Virgin Islands) have a duty-free allowance of US$1,600, including up to 1,000 cigarettes (at least 800 of which must have been bought in the insular possession) and 5L of alcoholic beverages, one of which must be a product of the insular possession.
Further information on US customs regulations is available online (www.cbp.gov).
The following are either banned or may only be imported under licence:
• Narcotics and dangerous drugs, unless for medical purposes (doctor's certificate required).
• Biological materials, some seeds, fruits and plants (including endangered species of plants and vegetables and their products).
• Firearms and ammunition (with some exceptions - consult the customs website).
• Meat and poultry products - fresh, dried or canned.
• Certain fish (unless certified as disease free).
• Dairy products and eggs.
• Wildlife and endangered species, including crustaceans, molluscs, eggs, game and hunting trophies and crafted articles of any part thereof.
• Dog and cat fur.
• Some art and artefacts.
• Haitian animal hide drums.
• Some automobiles.
• More than one article (limited to once every 30 days) displaying a counterfeit or confusingly similar logo to trademarked and copyrighted articles.
• Merchandise from embargoed countries: Cuba, Iran, Myanmar and most of Sudan; information materials (pamphlets, books, tapes, films and recordings) are permitted.
Note that although the embargo against Cuba has not been lifted, authorised US travellers visiting Cuba may now purchase up to US$400 of goods for personal use.