The Currency of Saint Lucia
The currency of St. Lucia is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar, or as we like to call it, just ‘EC’. The EC dollar is used by eight islands in the OECS region – Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines. So if you plan to island-hop, there’s no need to change money!
The EC dollar is linked to the US Dollar at the exchange rate of 1 US$ to 2.70 EC$. If you go to a bank and exchange US cash (bills only) you will be paid at a standard rate of 2.67. If you change in a hotel or use US$ in a business place you will likely receive a lower rate – 2.65 or even 2.5. To figure out what things cost use the letter XCD in your favourite currency app
New Bills and Old Bills
The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank has recently issued new polymer notes, so you will find two types of notes in circulation – don’t worry, they’re both legal tender.
Can I pay in my own currency?
US dollars are widely accepted on the island and US, Canadian and Euro are accepted out of courtesy, but you should not expect to get your change in the same currency and don’t expect to be able to use any foreign coins. You can even get US dollars out of a limited number of ATMs at the Bank of Saint Lucia. But…please read on for more advice!
Despite their wide acceptance, foreign currencies are accepted as a courtesy to visitors, they are not legal tender and therefore, no-one is obliged to accept them as payment.
Keep it clean and small
In light of the legal status of foreign currencies, many places won’t accept large denominations, 50 or 100 bills or any damaged bills. With large bills, there is too much risk of counterfeit, and dirty or damaged bills will not be accepted by local banks because the banks cannot recirculate and must bear the cost of repatriating them to the treasury of the country of origin. If you prefer not to buy EC dollars for your visit, US dollars are by far the most accepted as our currency is pegged at a fixed rate to the US dollar. If you bring clean US dollar notes and small denominations and you’ll be fine.
Easy price conversion for US$:
If you’re old school or find yourself in the jungle or on the wide blue sea without data…you can use the easy 2.7 EC to 1 US rate to calculate prices as in the following examples:
Cost in EC $65 – divide by 3 = 22.3, then add 10% and round up. EC$ 65 = about US$ 25
Cost in US$ 15 – multiply by 3 = 45 and minus about 10% – 4.50. US$ 15 = EC$ 40.50
Major international credit cards are widely accepted at all large shopping centres, supermarkets, restaurants, hotels, etc, but Saint Lucia does not have access to mobile credit card services like Square etc as these require a USA or UK bank account, so expect to pay small shops, taxis and vendors in cash.
In a some cases, you may be asked for a photo ID and / or to sign a paper credit card transaction slip.
Service Charges and Taxes
Value Added Tax of 15% is added to most prices in Saint Lucia except for businesses that have annual turnover below the threshold for charging VAT. It’s required by law, that a business must display their VAT certificate, so you can always check.
VAT is 10% on hotel and restaurant bills. A service charge (usually 10%) is also applicable. In most cases, these charges aren’t included in prices quoted, so it is best to clarify.
Occasionally prices quoted don’t include VAT – so if you’re not sure, just ask.
VAT is not supposed to be added to Service Charge.
Service Charge is not the same as a tip! It is charged by the restaurants to pay for the cost of sitting at a table and being served, breakages etc, some may go to the chef or supervisors and some may go to staff, but it is not a guarantee. Wages of wait staff are not high, so do tip if you wish to thank your servers!
If you get food to take away, you will not be charged Service Charge.
If you’d like to learn more about our local currency, just ask us in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer!
You can also visit the ECCB website – here