Money Matters in Iran

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Money Matters in Iran

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Money matters in Iran, mostly because if you don’t bring it with you in cold hard cash you aren’t going to have any to spend! Iran is one of the few countries in the world that are not connected to the international banking network. You need to bring all the funds required for your trip in hard currency; cash is king. You cannot use credit or debit cards, travellers cheques or ATMs. U.S. dollars or Euros get the best rates but exchange shops in the bigger cities can change most things into Rials for you.

Once in Iran with your wads of cash, obtaining Rials is best done at an exchange shop or in your hotel. The process takes only seconds, compared with about half an hour at the bank where you need to fill in several forms and show your passport. Also, note that banks currency exchange is the official rate of currencies while the vast majority of the exchange offices apply the market rate which is usually higher.


The smart alternative for carrying cash when visiting Iran, Prepaid Travel Debit Card for Tourists in Iran

There have recently been some Iranian prepaid debit card designed for tourists and temporary visitors. You can instantly add funds to your card, in your preferred currency and convert it to Iranian Rial (IRR). They are much more convenient than carrying cash but the exchnge rate is usually below the market rate.

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Notes of 50,000 and 100,000 Rials are the common dispensation of currency you get from banks and money changers. There isn’t a need to worry about having smaller currency all the time. Shops always seem to have change, and if not they’ll just give you something extra to make up for any tiny shortfall. Notes of 20,000 Rials do exist but you have to ask for them specifically. Currently if you change $100 U.S. you’ll get about 3,700,000 Rials, – a hefty lot of bills to carry around. Bring a big wallet!

Currency, Rials or Tomans?

Iranian money, Rials or Tomans? More often, this is the thing that confuses almost every traveler in Iran. In fact, there are two common currencies in Iran. The official currency is Iranian Rial (Rls or ﷼) and the currency people use informally, is Tomans. Essentially, each Toman is equal to 10 Rials. So, 1000 Tomans equals to 10,000 Rials.

The picture illustrates euro and United States 100-dollar banknotes bearing the portrait of US statesman, inventor and diplomat Benjamin Franklin next to Iran's rial banknotes, bearing a portrait of Iran's late founder of Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran on September 30, 2012. Iran's currency, the rial, dived to a new low of around 29,600 to the dollar in open trading, losing over 60 percent of its value since the end of last year according to exchange tracking websites as draconian Western economic sanctions take effect that has spurred already high inflation to even greater heights, with food costs soaring more than 50 percent. AFP PHOTO/ATTA KENARE (Photo credit should read ATTA KENARE/AFP/GettyImages)

Iranians use Rials in coins, banknotes, official arrangements and use Tomans more commonly and informally. Rial is the printed currency but Toman is much more practical to use in daily life. In this way, when you need to purchase something at a store, pay for taxi and shopping, you are confronting Tomans, not Rials. When a taxi driver says the price for arriving somewhere is 1000, he means Tomans, which implies that you'll be paying using a 10,000 Rial note. Since we have too many zeros in our bank notes (Check out Iran banknotes below), sometimes people even don’t bother to say 5000 or 10,000 Tomans and prefer to say 5 or 10 Tomans! Thus, whenever you are paying something you can ask them and check it again to check whether it's the right cost.

If you are from a country (some African or South American countries, for example) the currency of which is not among the major currencies traded in the exchange offices, change your money to US dollars or Euros.