Collectible value aside, let's say I have some old currency – bank notes and coins – from another country, perhaps acquired from a relative who visited many years ago.

In the case of countries or regimes that obviously no longer exist, is it safe to say the currency has no legal tender value?

What about for countries that do still exist: Is there any way I can check if old notes or coins are still considered acceptable legal tender? e.g. a reference source listing country and oldest date for valid currency? Or, is this necessarily a research exercise on a case-by-case basis?

What kinds of events might render old bank notes or coins no longer acceptable as legal tender in their country of issue?

  • Do you mean 'legal tender' in the sense of the technical concept of having to take them as payment of debts, or in the inaccurate but often generally used sense of being valid in general circulation? Or something else, like still being exchangeable into something modern? Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 13:11
  • The latter- the generally used sense of being valid in general circulation, or being exchangeable into something modern. i.e. does such money still hold value (collectible value aside.) Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 14:46

1 Answer 1


This is usually a piece of information obtainable from the central/government bank of that country. Each country has its own laws, and each currency release has its own laws. I've lived in a place that changed bills to coins, and the bills can still be returned to any bank for replacement, but are not considered "legal tender" in the sense that you can go and buy stuff with them (anyone who is not a bank has a right not to accept them as money). Same country had a currency change 10 years prior (not just bills, the whole currency including the currency name), and the old bills are no longer valid and cannot be exchanged (I have some left).

So to answer your question directly - central bank of that country (if it exists, if it doesn't the currency is probably just a collectible item).

BTW: To the best of my knowledge, all the European currencies that were changed to Euro's are no longer valid and can no longer be exchanged.

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    Wikipedia says that "The value of the French franc was locked to the euro at 1 euro = 6.55957 FRF on 31 December 1998, and after the introduction of the euro notes and coins, ceased to be legal tender after 28 February 2002 (although still exchangeable at banks)."
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jun 11, 2011 at 2:13
  • @Chris, didn't know about that, I actually had some francs on my account at the time and got a letter that the bank will not accept them any longer (but the account was not in France).
    – littleadv
    Commented Jun 11, 2011 at 2:50
  • What you say about Euro: that still depends. German Mark is no longer legal tender, but, as far as I know, will stll always be exchangeable into Euro by some banks, at least by the Bundesbank.
    – glglgl
    Commented Sep 21, 2018 at 9:05

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