In Ulaanbaatar, some hotels accept travelers’ checks in U.S. dollars, and several banks convert travelers’ checks to dollars or Mongolian currency, known as Tugrugs. You can use credit cards at a variety of hotels, restaurants, and shops in the city. Cash advances against credit cards are available at some commercial banks such as Trade and Development Bank, Golomt Bank, Khan Bank, and Xac Bank. International bank wire transfers are also possible. There are a handful of VISA and Maestro/Cirrus ATMs in Ulaanbaatar, but they are not reliable. Very few ATMs exist outside the capital. Outside of Ulaanbaatar, cash is the only method of payment that is possible.
The U.S. Embassy does not always receive timely notification of the detention or arrest of a U.S. citizen, particularly outside of Ulaanbaatar. Remember that you are required by law to carry your residency permit or passport (not a copy) with you at all times so that if questioned by local officials, evidence of your identity and citizenship are readily available.
During the winter, severe fuel shortages and problems with central heating and electrical systems may cause seriously reduced heating levels and power outages in Ulaanbaatar and other cities. Smaller towns in the countryside may have no heat or electricity at all. You should prepare to leave the country if there is a complete energy failure.
Mongolian customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning import and export of items such as firearms, ammunition, and antiquities. Import of firearms or ammunition requires prior approval from the Government of Mongolia. Exporting antiquities requires a special customs clearance certificate issued by authorized antique shops at the time of purchase. For additional information contact the Embassy of Mongolia at 2833 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007, telephone: (202) 333-7117.
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