Sao Tome and Principe - Country Commercial Guide
Trade Financing
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Methods of Payment

Payment is usually made through irrevocable letters of credit.

For more information about the methods of payment or other trade finance options, please read the Trade Finance Guide.

In May 2021, the government modernized its payment system with the introduction of payment platforms for VISA and MasterCard.

To access ST&P’s ICS section on financing, visit the U.S. Department of State Investment Climate Statement website.

How the Banking System Operates

São Tomé and Príncipe’s banking system includes one Central Bank (Banco Central de São Tomé e Príncipe- BCSTP) and four commercial banks, including two that also operates as an Investment Bank.

BISTP - Banco Internacional de São Tomé e Príncipe (STP State, Portugal and Angola)

ECOBANK (Lomé, Togo)

Afriland First Bank (Cameroonian)

BGFI (Gabon)

In 1993, the Banco Internacional de São Tomé e Príncipe (BISTP), a joint venture between the Government of STP and the Portuguese bank Caixa Geral de Depositos and Angolan Bank, operates as both a commercial and investment bank since 2017. The Gabonese Investment Bank (BGFI) started operations in STP in March 2012. All commercial banks are supervised by the BCSTP.

The BCSTP declared three commercial banks insolvent, namely, the Angolan capitalized Banco Equator in 2016, Cameroonian capitalized Banco Privado de São Tomé in 2018, and the Nigerian capitalized Energy Bank in 2022.

Foreign-Exchange Controls

The Central Bank of STP supervises the national financial system. Among other responsibilities, the BCSTP sells hard currencies and establishes indicative interest rates. The dobra (STD) is the country’s national currency. One U.S. dollar is equivalent to about 23.70 STD.  Since January 2010, the STD is pegged to the Euro at the exchange rate of 1 Euro to 24.50 STD. The government has been working closely with the BCSTP to ensure that greater inflows of foreign exchange translate into an increase in access to raw materials for business. Repatriation of capital is possible with prior authorization.

U.S. Banks and Local Correspondent Banks

There are no U.S. banks operating in STP. Portuguese banks are used for transferring funds.