Iranian Rial (IRR)

The official legal currency of the Islamic Republic of Iran

What is the Iranian Rial (IRR)?

The Iranian Rial is the official legal currency of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is subdivided into 100 dinars; however, dinar denominations of the Iranian currency are not typically used due to the extremely low value of one Iranian rial. Unlike most other currencies, there is no official symbol for the Iranian rial.

 

Iranian Rial

 

The Iranian currency is, as of 2020, in a period of transition. Because of the rial’s low value, the Iranian parliament voted to gradually remonetize the nation’s currency from the rial to the toman between 2020 and 2022, with an exchange rate of 1 toman = 10,000 rials. The changeover from rials to tomans is projected to cost the Iranian government upwards of $150 million.

The rial is the only official legal currency in the nation of Iran, but is also informally used in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Syria. Because of its extremely low value, the rial is not commonly traded in the foreign exchange market. Its forex symbol is IRR. For example, the exchange rate with the US dollar is denoted as USD/IRR.

The Iranian rial is issued by the Central Bank of Iran – also referred to as the Bank Markazi.

 

Summary

  • The Iranian Rial is the official legal currency of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
  • Because of its extremely low value, the Iranian rial is not commonly traded in the foreign exchange market. Its forex symbol is IRR.
  • The rial is scheduled to be gradually replaced by a new official currency, the toman, between 2020 and 2022.

 

History of the Rial

The Iranian rial was a currency in use in what is now the nation of Iran (formerly Persia) as far back as 1798. It was replaced with the qiran in 1825, at an exchange rate of 1 qiran = 10 rials. A little over a century later, in 1932, the nation of Iran returned to the rial as its official currency, with a 1:1 exchange rate of qirans for rials.

Initially, the rial was pegged to the British pound sterling at a rate of 59.75 rials = 1 British pound. The nation transferred to a peg with the US dollar in 1945 at 32.25 rials = 1 US dollar. By the late 1950s, the exchange rate with the US dollar was as high as 75.75 rials. Iran discontinued pegging its currency to the US dollar in 1975, shortly after the United States completely abandoned the gold standard.

The value of the rial plummeted following the Islamic revolution, as tens of billions of dollars’ worth of currency was moved out of the country. By mid-1999, it took over 9,000 rials to secure 1 US dollar. High inflation, due to a poor, state-controlled economy, continues to erode the value of the Iranian rial. As of late 2020, 42,105 rials = 1 US dollar.

 

Iranian Rial Currency – Coins and Banknotes

With the rial’s reintroduction in 1932 as the official currency, both gold and silver Iranian coins were minted, but the use of gold and silver in the coinage ceased in 1953. The most recently minted series of Iranian coins is the 2010 series (likely to be the last, with the coming changeover to the toman as the nation’s official currency).

Iranian coins, which are now made of a copper and nickel alloy, exist in denominations of 50, 100, 250, 500, 1000, 2000, and 5000 rials. To save money on minting costs, the Iranian central bank’s gradually reduced the size of coins since 1992. Note that no current coins in denominations of dinars are in circulation.

Iranian banknotes are printed in a wide range of denominations – 100, 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, and 100,000 rials. The largest denominations, notes over 10,000 rials, were added after the turn of the century to cope with the ever-rising inflation in Iran.

All banknotes of denominations 1,000 and above carry the image of Ayatollah Khomeini on the obverse side. The reverse sides of Iranian rial banknotes feature various historical sites and landmarks, such as the Dome of the Rock.

 

Related Readings

CFI offers the Certified Banking & Credit Analyst (CBCA)™ certification program for those looking to take their careers to the next level. To keep learning and developing your knowledge base, please explore the additional relevant resources below:

  • Demonetization
  • Iraqi Dinar (IQD)
  • Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM)
  • Kuwaiti Dinar (KWD)

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