Money and duty free for Puerto Rico
Currency and Money
US Dollar (USD; symbol US$) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of US$100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1. Coins are in denominations of US$1, and 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1 cents. There is no other currency used on the island. Note that many businesses will not have change for large bills; it is advised to carry smaller bills and coins to avoid needing change.
All international credit cards, and many leading debit cards are accepted. Be aware that your credit card or banking institution may impose a fee for international use of your card; ask your institution about this fee prior to your travels should you have questions.
All major ATM services are available across the island, even in small towns. Note that ATMs in Puerto Rico are called ATHs (A Toda Hora- literally, ‘at all hours’). You will have the choice of English or Spanish when making your transaction. Be sure to pay attention to the local fee imposed for use of cards not affiliated with the ATM's bank. Also, be aware that many Puerto Rican ATMs/ATHs are programmed to ask for a donation for local charities; you can opt out of this request at the end of your transaction. The major banks on the island include Banco Popular, Citibank, Doral, Santander, and Westernbank. Banks often have ATMs/ATHs and even small branches located inside grocery stores. Use the typical precautions you would use at home when withdrawing money from an ATM in Puerto Rico.
Traveller’s cheques are increasingly not accepted as a form of payment, especially outside the capital and especially by small businesses. If used at all, US Dollar cheques are preferred. If you intend to use traveller’s cheques, you are advised to call ahead to businesses to ensure they accept this form of payment. Credit cards or cash are strongly preferred by the majority of merchants.
Mon-Fri 0900-1530. Hours may vary. Note that banks are closed on all US holidays, as well as local holidays.
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.
You can exchange foreign currency at banks and at major hotels, though it is best to arrive with US Dollars and avoid exchange altogether. Currency exchange booths, or bureaux de change (cambio) are not common in Puerto Rico. There is not even a bureau de change at the international airport in San Juan.
Puerto Rico duty free
Puerto Rico duty-free allowance for returning residents coming from an international destination (excluding USA ports of departure):
• Returning Americans can import up to US$800 worth of items if their length of stay was more than 48 hours and the individuals had not used any duty-free exemption in the preceding 30 days.
• The duty-free allowance includes 200 cigarettes or 100 cigars.
• 1L of alcoholic beverages for individuals above 21 years old.
• Cigarettes, cigar and alcohol do not apply to returning residents from a USA port of departure. Passengers from a USA port of departure are not allowed to purchase at duty-free shops in the USA if their final destination is Puerto Rico. However, they are allowed to purchase from Puerto Rico duty-free shops before they leave for the USA.
Puerto Rico duty-free allowance for returning residents coming from American Samoa, Guam or the US Virgin Islands only.
• Returning Americans can import up to US$1,600 worth of items.
• The duty-free allowance includes 1,000 cigarettes but not more than 200 of which may be acquired elsewhere than in these islands.
• 1 US gallon of alcoholic beverages for individuals above 21 years old.
Puerto Rico duty-free allowance for non-residents coming from an international destination (excluding USA ports of departure):
• 200 cigarettes, 100 cigars, or 4.4lbs (2kg) of smoking tobacco.
• 1 US quart of alcoholic beverages for individuals above 21 years old.
• Gifts worth up to US$100.
Narcotics and dangerous drugs (unless for medical purposes), absinthe, biological materials, some seeds, fruits and plants (including endangered species of plants and vegetables and their products), unlicensed firearms and ammunition, meat and poultry products (fresh, dried or canned), any fish or their eggs (unless certified as disease free and canned, pickled or smoked), dairy products and eggs, Cuban cigars, wildlife and endangered species, dog and cat fur, some art and artefacts, imports from Iran and leather souvenirs from Haiti (eg drums), some automobiles, counterfeit goods, merchandise from embargoed countries Cuba, Iran, Myanmar, and most of Sudan), and unauthorised cultural artefacts.
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.
All visitors leaving Puerto Rico are required to send their checked luggage through US Food and Drug Administration screening, which scans for animals, fruits, vegetables, and current prohibited items by X-ray.