Banking in Iran for expats (coins, notes & cheques)
Living and spending money in Tehran can be a confusing experience for people who cannot speak, read or write Persian. However, if you are spending a considerable amount of time in the country there are options to help as well as workarounds.
The Central Bank of Iran (Bank Markazi) is the only issuing authority of coins and notes in the country, unlike countries like Scotland or Northern Ireland you will not find several banks issuing their own versions of the same currency. You will, however, find that many banknotes have stamps from their releasing financial institute or bank.
The currency in the Islamic Republic of Iran is the Iranian Rial (IRR). It is currently divided into the following denominations:
(The denominations above are coins which you will most often see during your time in Iran, however, older coins with denominations lower than current range are still in circulation).
(The notes are currently accepted legal tender in the Islamic Republic, however, 5,000 Rial notes are gradually being phased out in favour of the coin version.)
500,000 Rial (Iran Cheque)
1,000,000 Rial (Iran Cheque)
The Iran Cash Cheques issued by the CBI are the highest valued legal tender in Iran, these notes are treated as regular banknotes due to inflation in the country in recent years.
Toman Vs. Rial
Officially Iran uses the Iranian Rial (IRR) as its main currency, unofficially locals refer to prices in the “Toman.”
The Toman was an ancient currency in Iran before the introduction the Rial in the early 20th century; there is no specific reason why today locals refer to prices in the Toman when it has no official status.
Currently, 1 unit of Toman is equivalent to 10 units of Rial. Things get more complicated as, due to inflation in recent years Iranians are now opting to refer to prices in single digits, so for example, 500,000 rials becomes 50 Toman. Easy isn’t it.
Here’s a brief chart to clarify.
|Official Iranian Rial||Toman in ‘000s||Toman without 000’s|
Curiously, the Central Bank of Iran understanding the confusion has now begun printing notes with both the Rial rate and the unofficial non-thousands Toman rate. Case in point would be the 500,000, and 1mn Rial notes, which now respectively print in the top corner 50 and 100.
Newer 10,000 (1,000, 1 Toman) notes now have the number “1” in the design, suggesting the CBI will begin all notes like this in the next few years.
Are you interested in knowing which the best banks are for foreigners, why not check our previous articles?