Practical Life in Casablanca


Bank services in Casablanca


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Banks in Morocco operate similar to those in Europe. With the assistance of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Moroccan government is working on simplifying the investment process.

Hours

Each bank has slightly different hours, but they are based around a schedule of 8:00-16:00 from Sunday to Thursday. Summer hours (July & August) tend to be shorter.

Currency

The currency of Morocco is the dirham. Each dirham is divided into one hundred centimes. The dirham is usually indicated by "DH" or "MAD"; centimes can be noted as "cm". There are 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, Dh 1, Dh 2, Dh 5, Dh 10 coins, although coins smaller than 20c are rarely seen these days. Notes are available in denominations of Dh 20, Dh 50, Dh 100, and Dh 200. It can be extremely difficult to use large bills as most people prefer to deal in small change. Decimal places in Morocco are denoted with commas.

Money minted under the reign of Hassan II is still in circulation and is valid. New bills and coins, minted under Mohamed VI, are also in concurrent circulation. Older 10-DH notes have mostly been removed and replaced with 10 DH coins. The dirham is the only officially accepted currency, but some hotels may accept EUR/USD unofficially.

If you are buying from small street vendors, they may refuse to use dirhams. Many small shopkeepers are Berbers who prefer riyals, a system in place before the arrival of the French. There are 20 riyals to the dirham.

Use the Currency Converter to calculate costs.

ATM

Cash is still king in Morocco. ATMs can be located at banks around the city. Reliable machines can be harder to find outside of city centers. The maximum amount to withdraw is usually 4000 dirhams.

Be sure you know your personal identification number (PIN) and your daily withdrawal limit before you depart. You should also notify your bank of travel plans so they are aware of where your card will be used and do not put a stop on it for suspicious activity. Also consult with your bank to find out if they have any partnerships with the country you are visiting. Make sure you understand the fees and regulations in your contract to avoid excessive fees. Remember to make a record of your credit card number and the emergency phone number for cancelling your card, should you lose it.

Credit Cards

In larger stores and hotels, credit cards are accepted. It is also possible to withdraw cash advances from your credit cards at banks or ATMs, provided you know your PIN. However, you will pay interest from the moment of your withdrawal. Also, note that many banks now assess a 1 to 3 percent "transaction fee" on all charges you incur abroad (whether you're using the local currency or your native currency).

Checks

Checks are not accepted except in the case of large purchases. They are usually available in amounts of over 500 dirhams. Generally, merchants will not accept a check drawn on a bank outside the same city.

Exchange

It is illegal to bring more than 1000 Dh of local currency out of the country - making it nearly impossible to get dirhams outside Morocco. Since exchange offices are only open during business hours (roughly 8:00 - 17:00) it can be incredibly difficult to have money you can use if you arrive during an off time. In large cities you may be able to exchange a small amount of money, at an unfavorable rate. By law, exchange rates should be the same at all banks and official exchanges, but know the rate before going to an exchange counter.

Electronic Transfers

Electronic money transfers require some effort and a fee.

    Necessary Information:
  • Complete name of the bank
  • Name of branch and/or branch number
  • Exact street address of the branch
  • Branch's SWIFT number (this is an internationally used system of numbers which identifies each branch of each bank, in each country)
  • Name on the account
  • Account number that the funds should be deposited into

Speak directly with the Moroccan bank's Wire Transfer Department to get the correct information. These contacts should be specified in the transfer documents so only they are authorized. Funds should arrive within 3-5 days; but there have been instances of transfers taking 3 weeks.

The easiest way to complete a transfer is if you have a dual-currency account, such as the connection between Deutsche bank and Bank of America. Electronic transfers to dual currency accounts incur no or very low fees.

Open an Account

It is very important to open a local account.

Convertible Dirham Account

Many people choose a convertible dirham account which allows for any foreign currency to be brought in or wired into this account. However, no Moroccan dirhams can be deposited into this account. There is no minimum for opening this account and money in a convertible dirham account can be freely wired abroad. Debit cards can be requested and issued for convertible dirham accounts. To open a convertible dirham account, the only document you will need is your passport, as well as some money to make an initial deposit. Statements can either be sent to an address in your home country, or an address in Morocco. Foreign workers who are residents and have an official work contract, can have up to half of their net monthly salary transferred into a convertible-dirham account. Foreign-denominated checks can be deposited into convertible accounts, but it takes 2-3 months for funds to be available at a high commission.

Dirham Account

Once you have become a legal resident, you are permitted to open a normal dirham account. With this account you can obtain a debit card. If you are a legal resident and have both a regular dirham account and an official work contract, your employer can direct-deposit your salary into your regular dirham account each month. Neither a regular or convertible-dirham checking account pay interest, but legal residents can open dirham passbook-savings accounts which do pay interest.

Banks

The Association of Commerce Banks represents all recognized financial institutions in Morocco and is a bond of reputability.


Update 24/02/2012



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