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Peruvian Currency Guide

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Peruvian Nuevo Sol Coins

Peruvian Nuevo Sol Coins

Photo © Tony Dunnell

Currency of Peru:

Nuevo Sol

Brief History of the Nuevo Sol:

Following a period of economic instability and hyperinflation during the 1980s, the Peruvian government chose to replace the nation’s existing currency -- the inti -- with the nuevo sol.

The first Peruvian nuevo sol coins were put into circulation on October 1, 1991, followed by the first nuevo sol banknotes on November 13, 1991.

Peruvian Nuevo Sol Coins:

The Peruvian nuevo sol is subdivided into céntimos (S/.1 is equal to 100 céntimos).

The smallest denominations are the 1 and 5 céntimo coins, both of which remain in circulation but are rarely used (especially outside Lima), while the largest denomination is the S/.5 coin.

Here is a complete list of Peruvian coins, including diameters in millimeters:

  • 0.01 (diameter 16 mm)
  • 0.05 (18 mm)
  • 0.10 (20.5 mm)
  • 0.20 (23 mm)
  • 0.50 (22 mm)
  • 1.00 (25.5 mm)
  • 2.00 (22.2 mm
  • 5.00 (24.3 mm)

All Peruvian coins feature the National Shield on one side, along with the words "Banco Central de Reserva del Perú" (Central Reserve Bank of Peru). On the reverse, you'll see the coin's denomination and a design specific to its value. The 10 and 20 céntimo coins, for example, both feature designs from the archaeological site of Chan Chan, while the S/.5 coin features the Nazca Lines Condor geoglyph.

The S/.2 and S/.5 coins are easily recognizable due to their bimetallic construction. Both have a copper-colored circular core surrounded by a steel band.

Peruvian Nuevo Sol Banknotes:

Peruvian banknotes come in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 nuevos soles. Each note features a famous figure from Peruvian history on one side with a notable location on the reverse.

During the latter half of 2011, the Banco Central de Reserva del Perú began introducing a new set of banknotes. The Peruvian honored on each note remains the same, but the reverse image has changed, as has the overall design. Both the old and new notes remain in circulation.

  • S/.10 -- The 10 nuevo sol banknote features famous Peruvian pilot José Abelardo Quiñones Gonzales (1914-1941). The reverse features the classic view of the archaeological site of Machu Picchu (the old note shows Quiñones Gonzales flying upside down in his biplane).
  • S/.20 -- The 20 nuevo sol banknote features Raúl Porras Barrenechea (1897-1960), a famous Peruvian writer, historian and diplomat. The reverse shows a section of wall from the Chan Chan archaeological site located on the north coast of Peru (the old note features the Palacio de Torre Tagle in Lima).
  • S/.50 -- Writer Abraham Valdelomar Pinto (1888-1919) is honored on the 50 nuevo sol note. The reverse features the New Temple of the Chavín de Huantar archaeological site (the old note shows the Laguna de Huacachina).
  • S/.100 -- The 100 nuevo sol banknote features Jorge Basadre Grohmann (1903-1980), a famous Peruvian historian, former Minister of Education and president of the Historic Institute of Peru. The reverse shows the archaeological site of Gran Pajatén, located in the San Martin department of Peru (the old note shows the National Library in Lima).
  • S/.200 -- The 200 nuevo sol banknote features Saint Rose of Lima (1586-1617), with the archaeological site of Caral-Supe on the reverse (the old note shows the Convent of Santo Domingo in Lima). The 200 nuevo sol note is rarely used.

Central Bank of Peru:

The Banco Central de Reserva del Perú (BCRP) is Peru’s central bank. The Banco Central mints and distributes all paper and metal money in Peru.

Fake Money in Peru:

Due to high levels of counterfeiting, travelers need to be wary of receiving fake money in Peru (either handed over unknowingly or as part of a scam). Try to familiarize yourself with all coins and banknotes as soon as possible. Pay particular attention to the look and feel of Peruvian currency, as well as the various security features included on both new and old versions of all nuevo sol banknotes.

Damaged Peruvian Currency:

Businesses rarely accept damaged money, even if the money still qualifies as legal tender. According to the BCRP, a damaged banknote can be exchanged in any bank if:

  • more than half of the banknote remains
  • at least one of the note’s two numerical values is intact
  • the note is authentic (not counterfeit)

If a banknote’s main security features are missing, the note can only be changed at the Casa Nacional de Moneda (National Mint) and authorized branches.

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