About the Tongan Pa’anga
The unit of currency in Tonga is the Tongan Pa’anga, often seen written as “TOP” or “TOP$”. You’ll also hear people verbally refer to the currency of Tonga as “TOP”. In this Tonga currency guide, we go through how money is commonly used in Tonga, from currency values to taxes that visitors may encounter.
Note that this guide does not go through current currency exchange rates. For more money tips, see How Much Spending Money Do You Need for Tonga?
Money Tips for Tonga
- Cash is king – prepare to have cash for most of your money exchanges in Tonga
- ATMs and currency exchange bureaus are only available in the main towns of Tongatapu, Vava’u, ‘Eua and Ha’apai
- Banks are open Monday-Friday with various opening hours between 9am-4pm
- Let your bank at home know you are travelling overseas to avoid a security lock on your card
- Traveller’s cheques are redeemable at Tongan banks.
For more tips, see 10 Tips for Travelling Tonga on a Budget.
Tonga Currency Values
The currency of Tonga is Tongan Pa’anga (dollar), more commonly known as TOP. Coins and banknotes come in the following values.
Coins come in values of $1, 50c, 20c, 10c and 5c. Cents in Tonga are also known as “seniti”.
Notes come in values of $100, $50, $20, $10 and $5. Dollars in Tonga are also known as “pa’anga”.
Tonga Currency Culture
There are a few ways that Tonga deals with money that might be different from what you are used to at home.
Tipping in Tonga
Tipping is not expected nor mandatory in Tonga. However, it is welcomed and appreciated as a gratuity for good service. Another token of appreciation are gifts from the visitor’s homeland. Tipping cultural performers, who usually have a basket in front for tips when they perform, is common and accepted.
Cash or Card?
In Tonga, it’s a good idea to rely on cash most of the time, while having a credit/debit card as a back-up. Credit cards are not widely accepted, so it’s best to always assume you can only pay with cash and have the funds in cash ready to do so. Traveller’s cheques are accepted in banks and very limited shops and accommodation.
Swedish Rounding / Cash Rounding
Because there are no coins in the Tongan currency with the value of 1 or 2 cents, retailers will either round the price up or down to the nearest 5 or 10 cents. This only occurs when paying with cash.
Currency Exchange in Tonga
Currency can be exchanged in banks, major hotels and local currency exchange outlets mostly found at Fua’amotu Airport and Tonga’s main town centres. Local exchange rates tend to be better than what’s found overseas.
If exchanging currency before arriving in Tonga, be sure to leave plenty of time to exchange before your trip, as Tongan Pa’anga is often a currency that some overseas currency outlets have to order it in. There are no restrictions on how much cash you can bring into Tonga, but you will need to declare, complete a cash reporting form and pay duty on more than TOP$10,000 through Customs. Find out more in What to Declare When Arriving in Tonga.
When withdrawing money from an ATM in Tonga, the money will be in Tongan Pa’anga. ATMs are available in Nuku’alofa (Tongatapu), Neiafu (Vava’u), Pangai (Ha’apai) and ‘Ohonua (‘Eua). However, there are no ATMs on other islands.
Banking in Tonga
Tonga banks are open are various times between 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday and varying limited hours on Saturdays are available at selected banks. ATMs are only available at Fua’amotu Airport and in Nuku’alofa town centre in Tongatapu, in Vava’u in Neiafu town centre, as well as one choice of ATM in ‘Ohonua in ‘Eua and Pangai in Ha’apai. Most international credit or debit cards will work in ATMs as long as your card has a four-digit pin code. We recommend letting your bank know before visiting Tonga so that they don’t lock your card for being used overseas.
Tonga has three commercial banks, including Bank of the South Pacific (BSP), ANZ and MBf bank. There is also the Tonga Development Bank (TDB) and the National Reserve Bank of Tonga (NRBT). All of the banking groups have head offices in Nuku’alofa, Tonga’s capital, with other offices and sub-branches in some of Tonga’s main towns.
Learn more about using your credit card in Tonga here.
Taxes in Tonga
There are a limited number of taxes in Tonga that are likely to affect visitors, including the Consumption Tax (CT) and the Departure Tax.
All goods and services purchased in Tonga are subject to a 15% Consumption Tax known as CT. The CT of a purchase is typically included in the advertised price unless stated otherwise.
The Tonga Departure Tax is included in your flight ticket price and is not collected at the airport. International passengers are charges TOP$55 for Departure Tax from Tonga.
Learn more about the taxes in the Tonga Tax Guide for Travellers.