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Banknotes and Coin

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If you have further questions about banknotes and coin, please do not hesitate to contact us

 
The SARB has the sole authority to produce, issue and destroy South African currency, and is entrusted to ensure the availability and integrity of the South African rand. 

 

The SARB was established on 30 June 1921 to issue, distribute and destroy banknotes and coin. The first banknotes were issued by the SARB on 19 April 1922.

The rand has been legal tender in South Africa since 1961, when it replaced the pound. It takes its name from the Witwatersrand – the ridge on which Johannesburg is built and where most of South Africa’s gold deposits were found.

The rand is legal tender in the Common Monetary Area, which includes, eSwatini, Lesotho and Namibia.

In 1996 the mandate of the SARB was expanded to include price stability maintenance,  one of its main functions remains ensuring a sufficient supply of trusted banknotes and coin.

The Currency Management Department works with the South African Mint Company (RF) Proprietary Limited (SA Mint), which mints coins, and the South African Bank Note Company (RF) Proprietary Limited (SABN), which prints banknotes. Both are subsidiaries of the SARB.

The SARB Act 90 of 1989 provides for the legal tender status of the banknotes and coin issued by the SARB. It also contains provisions relating to the mutilation, reproduction and counterfeiting of South African banknotes and coin.

 

Explore, play and discover our currency through the SARB Currency App

The SARB Currency App takes users on a journey of discovery by raising awareness about South African banknotes and coin and the role of the SARB.

The interactive features of the app illustrate how to authenticate banknotes and coin, while various animations cover a range of fascinating topics to help users tackle big questions about the economy and currency-related issues.

The multi-levelled mini-game, ZAR Mania, simulates a macroeconomic effect, on both a business and cash-handling level, while dealing with transactions.

The easy to navigate, relevant and engaging content of the SARB Currency App brings the right balance of excitement and learning to its users.

2021 R5 centenary coin  

The SARB’s 100-year history is marked by the date 2021 and, as part of the centenary celebrations, a commemorative R5 coin will be issued as a continuation of the story featured on the two R5 coins issued in 2011, read more below. 

 


 

Security features


 


 

2021 Centenary commemorative coin booklet

The SARB acts proactively by developing new banknotes to ensure that the country’s money remains among the most trusted currencies in the world. This is done to ensure continued relevance of the design and to incorporate technological advances, ensuring trust is maintained in the currency.

A number of design objectives are considered when designing and developing new banknotes and coin that:

  • are difficult to counterfeit but economical to manufacture;
  • are undeniably South African;
  • can be easily validated and authenticated;
  • are optimised to serve the needs of stakeholders, and
  • optimise usability across the full currency life cycle.

 

R200 plates ready for printing
 

The Kruger Rand moulding

The Currency Management Department works with its subsidiaries namely, the South African Mint Company (RF) Proprietary Limited (SA Mint), which mints coins, and the South African Bank Note Company (RF) Proprietary Limited (SABN), which prints banknotes. Both are subsidiaries of the SARB.

The SARB forecasts and calculates annually the volume of banknotes and coin needed to meet public demand. The production and technical teams decide on the technical, quality and security features of the banknotes and coin. The SABN and SA Mint then produce the new banknotes and coin based on the annual order placed.

 

R100 banknotes sheets in production
 

The coin cleaning process

The SARB ensures the availability and adequacy of banknotes and coin throughout the country in line with section 10(1)(a)(i)–(v) of the SARB Act. It is responsible for the bulk issuance and distribution of banknotes and coin and for meeting public demand for cash.

The Currency Management Department is responsible for managing and overseeing the cash supply chain, from planning, distribution and issuance, to destruction of cash.

Printed banknotes are transported from the subsidiary to cash centres for issuance to commercial banks. The SARB’s cash centres are located in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town and are not open for transactions with the public.

Commercial banks hold sufficient banknotes and make them available at their branches and automated teller machines (ATMs), where they can be withdrawn and used for transactions by the public.
 

There are five denominations of South African banknotes in circulation: R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200. 

All South African banknotes are printed on cotton substrate and can be differentiated from one another by considering the dominant colour, animal theme and size.

 

R10

Front:Portrait of Nelson Mandela SOUTH AFRICAN RESERVE BANK
Back: Rhinoceros Afrikaans: SUID-AFRIKAANSE RESERWEBANK isiSwati: LIBHANGESILULU LENINGIZIMU AFRIKA

     

R20

Front:Portrait of Nelson Mandela SOUTH AFRICAN RESERVE BANK
Back: Elephant Setswana: BANKAKGOLO YA AFORIKABORWA isiNdebele: IBULUNGELO-MALI ELIKHULU LESEWULA AFRIKA

     

R50

Front:Portrait of Nelson Mandela SOUTH AFRICAN RESERVE BANK
Back: Lion isiXhosa: IBHANKI ENGUVIMBA YOMZANTSI AFRIKA Tshivenda: BANNGA YA VHUKATI YA AFRIKA TSHIPEMBE

     

R100

Front: Portrait of Nelson Mandela SOUTH AFRICAN RESERVE BANK
Back: Cape buffalo Sepedi: PANKA YA RESEFE YA AFRIKA BORWA Xitsonga: BANGINKULU YA AFRIKA-DZONGA

     

R200

Front: Portrait of Nelson Mandela SOUTH AFRICAN RESERVE BANK
Back: Leopard isiZulu: IBHANGE LOMBUSO LASENINGIZIMU AFRIKA Sesotho: BANKA YA RISEFE YA AFRIKA BORWA

All banknotes and coins issued since 1961, by the SARB, remain legal tender in South Africa.
To see these past banknotes, please see The history of banknotes and coin in South Africa.
 

There are six denominations of South African coin in circulation: 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2 and R5. The minting of the 1c, 2c and 5c having been discontinued.

All South African coins are minted on combinations of base metals and alloys and can be differentiated from one another by their size, dominant colour, theme on the reverse, and the ridges, rims and serrations on their edges.

 

In addition to the above coins, the SARB issues commemorative coins from time to time. For further information on these coins and their value, please see Commemorative Coin below.

All banknotes and coins issued since 1961, by the SARB, remain legal tender in South Africa.
To see these past coins, please see The history of banknotes and coin in South Africa.
 

R5 coin

 

 

 

The Black Wildebeest or Gnu found in the northern grassveld regions of the Cape, throughout the Free State, KwaZulu Natal and the southern regions of Gauteng. The Black Wildebeest was also depicted on the 2c reverse from 1965 to 1990.

R2 coin

 

 

 

The Kudu, “King of Antelope”, was chosen for the reverse of the R2 coin which replaced the banknote in the 3rd decimal series. The wide spiralling horns are characteristic of the male kudu, which make it one of Africa’s most impressive antelope.

R1 coin

 

 

The Springbok, South Africa’s national animal, was first depicted on the silver crown coins from 1947-1951 and 1953-1959. The Springbok was once again chosen for the reverse of the silver 50c (1961-1964), the gold £1 and gold £½ (1952-1960) and the gold R1 and R2 (1961-1964). It was again depicted on the 50c from 1960-1964. From 1977 to 1990, the Springbok appeared on the R1 nickel coins and from 1990 to date, on the smaller R1 in the 3rd series. The Springbok is also depicted on the reverse of our world-renowned Krugerrand.

50 cent coin

 

 

 

The Strelitzia (Crane Flower or Bird-Of-Paradise Flower) first appeared together with the Arum Lily and Blue Agapanthus on the 50c coin (1965-1990) as part of the 2nd decimal series, and alone on the 50c in the 3rd series.

20 cent coin

 

 

 

The King Protea, South Africa’s national flower, first appeared on the tickey and sixpence from 1925 to 1960 and again in the 1st decimal series (1961-1964) on the 2½c and 5c. The Protea was chosen for the reverse of the 20c in the 2nd series (1965-1989) and 3rd coin series.

10 cent coin

 

 

 

The Arum Lily is a distinguished southern African flower. It originally appeared on the 50c coins from 1965-1989. From 1990 onwards it was featured on the 10c coins as part of the country’s 3rd decimal series. In 2012 the plating on the 10c coin was changed from bronze to copper, giving it a reddish appearance.

From time to time, the SARB issues coins to commemorate key events or milestones in South Africa. These commemorative coins are placed into circulation for everyday usage, despite having a design that highlights the commemoration. 

These coins display designs and themes which are different from our normal circulation coins, but despite their limited circulation volumes and intended use as a commemorative circulation coin, they maintain their face value over time.  

Hence, despite the beauty of these coins or emotional connection they might hold to the commemorative topic, they should not be kept with the expectation that they will increase in value.

It is therefore prudent to be wary of anyone offering to pay significant amounts for these coins. 

 

All commemorative R5 coins that are in circulation retain their value of R5 only.  
 
The South African Reserve Bank does not buy back circulation coins.

2021 South African Reserve Bank – 100 Year

 

 

 

The coin celebrates the 100th anniversary of the South African Reserve Bank under the theme “ Purposeful Journey” 1921- 2021

2019 Let us live and strive for freedom

 

 

 

This coin celebrates 25 years of constitutional democracy in South Africa and recognises the people of the nation who live and strive for freedom. The long line of voters represents the desire of citizens to participate in shaping the future. 

2018 Mandela Centenary

 

 

 

This coin celebrates 100 years since the birth of Nelson Mandela ( 1918 - 2018).

2017 OR Tambo

 

 

 

This coin celebrates 100 years since the birth of Oliver Tambo (1917 -2017).

2015 Griqua Town

 

 

 

This coin marks the 200th anniversary of the first known currency created in South Africa

2014 20 years of freedom

 

 

 

 

This coin celebrates 20 years of constitutional democracy in South Africa.

2011 SARB 90th Anniversary

 

 

 

 

This coin celebrates the 90th anniversary of the South African Reserve Bank.

2008 Mandela 90th Birthday Anniversary

 

 

 

 

This coin was released in celebration of Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday.

2000 Mandela “Smiley”

 

 

 

 

This coin was released in 2000 to celebrate Nelson Mandela's historic term as president of South Africa.

1994 Presidential Inauguration

 

 

 

This coin marks the 1994 inauguration of South Africa's first democratically elected president.

 

These coins display designs and themes which are different from our normal circulation coins, but despite their limited circulation volumes and intended use as a commemorative circulation coin, they maintain their face value over time. 

 

 

2020 Freedom and Security of the person

 

 

 

This coin depicts the 25 years of Constitutional Democracy in South Africa.

2019 Children’s rights

 

 

 

This coin depicts the essence of joy, which all children should experience. It reminds us that all children in our nation are entitled to equal protection and should be able to exercise their rights.

2019 Right to education

 

 

 

This coin celebrates the potential of education to transform the lives of people of all ages. The building block, open book and graduation cap represent the importance of early learning, access to quality schooling and higher education

2019 Environmental rights

 

 

 

All South Africans share the right to access unspoiled natural resources. This coin depicts some of the resources we need for our survival, like safe water, food and air.

2019 Freedom of religion, belief and opinion

 

 

 

All South Africans share the right to access unspoiled natural resources. This coin depicts some of the resources we need for our survival, like safe water, food and air.

2019 Freedom of movement and residence

 

 

 

The bird holding a key represents the right of all South Africans to freedom of movement. The taxi and aeroplane show that we have the right to choose our place of residence, to travel and be welcomed home.

It is the responsibility of the SARB to ensure and maintain the integrity of banknotes and coin in circulation. The SARB has to ensure that banknotes and coin remain a secure method of payment, unit of account and store of wealth. Banknotes and coin derive their value from the trust that the citizens have in that country’s currency.

It is important to be aware of the security features incorporated in banknotes in order to identify counterfeit notes. When inspecting banknotes an approach of Look, Feel, and Tilt should be adopted.

 
Look

By holding a banknote up to the light, the following features can be observed.

Security thread

The security thread is the shiny strip on the front of the banknote, which becomes a continuous solid line when held to the light. The words “SARB”, “Rand”, the denomination and the South African coat of arms should be visible.

 

Watermark

The watermark is an embedded image of Nelson Mandela with the denomination.

 

 

 

 

Feel

By lightly running your fingertips over the banknote, the following features can be observed.

Raised print

On the front of the banknote, the portrait of Nelson Mandela and the words SOUTH AFRICAN RESERVE BANK will feel slightly raised or rough.

Visual aid feature

The raised lines on the bottom left and right of the front of the banknote are aids for the visually impaired. The R10 has one line, the R20 two lines, the R50 three lines, the R100 four lines and the R200 five lines.

Tilt

By tilting a banknote, the following features can be observed.

Security thread

The metallic thread will reflect light and exhibit a slight colour shift.

Colour-changing ink

The numerals on the bottom right of the banknote are printed with a colour-changing ink. The R10 and R20 banknotes exhibit a slight colour shift, whereas the R50, R100 and R200 banknotes appear to have a moving line. If you suspect that you have a counterfeit note, see Counterfeit Notes below.

In terms of section 14 of the SARB Act, only the SARB has the right to issue banknotes and coin in South Africa. Any reproduction of banknote images – even for artistic or advertising uses – is strictly forbidden.

Counterfeit currency are imitation notes or coin produced without the legal sanction of the SARB. Counterfeiting currency and the possession thereof are crimes.

By law, counterfeit notes found in circulation cannot be exchanged for cash, as they have no value. To confirm the validity of a banknote, the approach of Look, Feel and Tilt can be used.

The SARB, the South African Police Service and the commercial banks work together to combat the counterfeiting of banknotes and coin. Members of the public who come into possession of counterfeit banknotes and coin must immediately report it to their nearest police station.
 

A banknote is deemed mutilated when its condition requires special examination to validate. Such banknotes could be burnt, discoloured, decomposed, or damaged with portions missing.

In terms of section 14(4) of the SARB Act, the SARB is not obliged to make any payment in respect of mutilated banknotes, but will consider the merits of each case. As such, mutilated banknotes may be exchanged at the SARB Head Office in Pretoria or designated commercial bank branches, where the value to be paid will be evaluated against specific criteria.

 

Mutilated banknotes can also be exchanged at a commercial bank where an individual’s account is held. Designated commercial bank branches will then assess the value in line with the above guiding principles. For a list of designated branches, please see Commercial bank PDF.
 

A banknote is deemed dye-stained when it displays staining patterns from a currency degradation system.

These devices degrade banknotes, making them unusable and discouraging criminals from stealing them. As these banknotes are considered the proceeds of crime, they have no value and cannot be exchanged.

Dye-stained banknotes should under no circumstances be accepted. Members of the public who unwittingly come into possession of these banknotes cannot claim from the SARB, and are advised to hand in these banknotes at their nearest police station.

Examples of dye-stained banknotes:

Currency protection devices (CPDs) protect banknotes from theft by degrading their integrity, making them unusable.

The SARB regulates the use of CPDs in accordance with the SARB Act. Only CPDs or systems that are tested and formally approved by the SARB may be used to protect cash.

All enquires or applications for testing and requests for approval of CPDs, security ink or any other banknote degradation systems must be directed to: CPD@resbank.co.za.
 

The SARB has the sole authority to produce and issue banknotes and coin. It also has sole discretion to give or refuse permission to reproduce images of its currency.

Entities or persons who would like to reproduce images of the currency can only do so under specific approved circumstances. The images must not be reproduced with the intention of misleading or defrauding the public, and must maintain the dignity of any national symbol.

More details on the guidelines for reproducing banknotes can be found here.

Images in this gallery are available for non-commercial use only. They can be used and reproduced provided the following conditions are met:

  • the photographs are reproduced accurately and without alterations;
  • the SARB is identified as the source; and
  • its use does not contravene the SARB Act or the policy on the reproduction of images of the South African currency.
     

The SARB provides support, education and awareness on banknotes and coin to the public.

In collaboration with relevant stakeholders, the SARB runs ongoing public engagement programmes at taxi ranks, malls, schools and community gatherings. The team also conducts public awareness in Common Monetary Area countries, where the rand is legal tender.

Members of the public or organisations who wish to invite the SARB delegates to their area for awareness and training at no cost, can contact us at: +27 12 313 4713 or currency@resbank.co.za.

When receiving banknotes from the bank or shops, should I check them?

Most definitely. Members of the public are advised to check the banknote's security features before accepting them.

 

Do banknotes carry germs?

Like any other surface that large numbers of people come into contact with, banknotes can carry bacteria or viruses. However, the risk posed by handling a banknote is no greater than touching any other common surface, such as handrails, doorknobs or credit cards.

 

Can I exchange foreign currency at the SARB?

No. The SARB will only accept and exchange South African currency.

 

Can I sell my R5 circulation coin to SARB for more. If yes, for how much?

No, all circulation R5 coins retain their respective face value of R5 only. The SARB does not buy back currency from members of the public.

 

Is there a possibility of the value of the R5 coin increasing?

No, circulation coins will always retain their respective face value irrespective of their date of issue.

 

What is a counterfeit note?

A counterfeit note is an imitation of a banknote produced without the legal sanction of the government. Producing or using counterfeit notes is illegal and a form of fraud.

 

What should members of the public do in the event of detecting counterfeit banknotes or coin?

Such banknotes or coins should be reported to their nearest police station.

 

Can I exchange counterfeit notes for genuine banknotes?

No, counterfeit notes have no value and cannot be exchanged for genuine banknotes.

 

What should I do when I have information of counterfeit scams or notes?

Any information about counterfeit notes operations should be reported to the nearest police station.

 

What is a mutilated banknote?

A banknote is deemed mutilated when its condition requires special examination to consider the value, if any, to be paid. Such banknotes could be burnt, discoloured, decomposed, damaged with portions missing and/or contaminated.

 

Where can I exchange my mutilated (damaged) banknotes?

Mutilated/damaged banknotes can be exchanged at a commercial bank branch where a member of the public holds an account. Alternatively they can be exchanged at the SARB Head Office during weekdays.

 

Do I require permission from the SARB to reproduce or use images of the South African currency?

Yes. All reproduction images of South African currency should be approved by the SARB before use.

 

Will my reproduction of images permission last forever?

No. Approval of reproduction is granted for a particular period only.

 

Do I need to have the word “SPECIMEN” printed on my reproduction?

Yes. All approved reproductions should reflect the word “SPECIMEN” on them.

 

Which banknotes are considered “old” series banknotes?

When the Reserve Bank issues a new series of banknotes, the previous issues remain legal tender but are referred to as “old” series banknotes.

 

Where can I exchange my old series banknotes?

At the designated commercial bank branch where an individual’s account is held or at the SARB Head Office in Pretoria.

 

Will there ever be a time that old series banknotes will be worth more than their face value?

No. Old series banknotes retain their respective face value and cannot be sold for a higher value.

 

What is a dye-stained banknote?

Dye-stained banknotes are banknotes that are stained by permanent inks used in currency protection devices to secure banknotes in automated teller machines (ATMs), safes and during transportation of cash.

 

How do I identify dye-stained banknotes?

When a banknote is stained by the activation of the currency protection devices, the staining ink penetrates the banknote and leaves traces which are normally more pronounced on the edges of the banknote and in some instances the banknote is completely saturated by the staining ink.

 

Can I transact with dye-stained banknotes?

No. These banknotes are not fit for circulation and they will not be replaced for value.

 

What should I do if I have withdrawn a dye-stained banknote from an ATM?

If the dye-stained banknote came from an ATM, you must immediately report it to the relevant bank.

 

What should I do if someone offers me a clearly ink-stained, partly-stained or a bleached/discoloured banknote?

You should always refuse to accept dye-stained notes and notes that are not whole. Only accept clean banknotes and banknotes that are not damaged.

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