Iranian rial

Iranian rial
ریال ایران  (Persian)
ISO 4217
Code IRR
10 toman
Symbol    ( in Unicode)
Freq. used 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000 rials
Rarely used 100, 200, 500, 1,000 rials
Freq. used 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 rials
Rarely used 50, 100, 250 rials
Official user(s) Iran Iran
Unofficial user(s)
Central bank Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran

The Iranian rial (Persian: ریال ایران; ISO 4217 code IRR) is the currency of Iran.[5]

Although the "toman" is no longer an official unit of Iranian currency, Iranians commonly express amounts of money and prices of goods in "tomans". For this purpose, one "toman" equals 10 rials. Despite this usage, amounts of money and prices of goods are virtually always written in rials. For example, the sign next to a loaf of bread in a store would state the price in rials, e.g., "10,000 Rials," even though the clerk, if asked, would say that the bread costs "1000 tomans". There is no official symbol for the currency but the Iranian standard ISIRI 820 defined a symbol for use on typewriters (mentioning that it is an invention of the standards committee itself) and the two Iranian standards ISIRI 2900 and ISIRI 3342 define a character code to be used for it. The Unicode Standard has a compatibility character defined U+FDFC RIAL SIGN (HTML ﷼).[6] The Iranian rial was devalued in July 2013 to half its previous value as the government reduced subsidisation of the exchange rate against the dollar.[7][8]


The rial was first introduced in 1798 as a coin worth 1,250 dinars or one eighth of a toman. In 1825, the rial ceased to be issued, with the qiran of 1,000 dinars (one tenth of a toman) being issued as part of a decimal system. The rial replaced the qiran at par in 1932, although it was divided into one hundred (new) dinars.

Prior to decimalisation in 1932, these coins and currencies were used, and some of these terms still have wide usage in Iranian languages and proverbs:[9]

Old currency In dinar First issue Year
shahi 50 dinars Samanid dynasty unknown
mahmoudi (sannar) 100 dinars Sultan Mahmoud unknown
abbasi 200 dinars Shah Abbas I unknown
naderi (da-shahi) 500 dinars Nader Shah unknown
qiran 1,000 dinars Fath Ali Shah 1825
rial 1,250 dinars Fath Ali Shah 1798
dozari 2,000 dinars Qajar dynasty unknown
panjzari 5,000 dinars Qajar dynasty unknown
toman 10,000 dinars Ilkhanate unknown


The Iranian rial remained relatively stable against the US dollar up until late 2011 when it lost two-third of its value within two years.[10]
Between 2002 and 2006, the rate of inflation has been fluctuating around 14%.[11]
Iran's trade balance (2000–2007)
Iran's balance of payment (2003–2007). Its capital account (both long and short term) has been decreasing during that same period.[12]

In 1932, the exchange rate with the British pound was 1 pound = 59.75 rials. This changed to 80.25 in 1936, 64.350 in 1939, 68.8 in 1940, 141 in 1941 and 129 in 1942. In 1945, Iran switched to the U.S. dollar as the peg for its currency, with 1 dollar = 32.25 rials. The rate was changed to 1 dollar = 75.75 rials in 1957. Iran did not follow the dollar's devaluation in 1973, leading to a new peg of 1 dollar = 68.725 rials. The peg to the U.S. dollar was dropped in 1975.

In 1979, 1 rial equaled $0.0141. The value of Iran's currency declined precipitously after the Islamic revolution because of capital flight from the country.[13][14] Studies estimate that the flight of capital from Iran shortly before and after the revolution is in the range of $30 to $40 billion.[15] Whereas on 15 March 1978, 71.46 rials equaled one U.S. dollar, in July 1999, 9,430 rials amounted to one dollar.

Injecting sudden foreign exchange revenues in the economic system forms the phenomenon of "Dutch disease" in a country. There are two main consequences for a country with Dutch disease: loss of price competitiveness in its production goods, and hence the exports of those goods; and an increase in imports. Both cases are clearly visible in Iran.[16] The solution is to direct the extra revenues from oil into the National Development Fund for use in productive and efficient projects.[17]

Although described as an (interbank) "market rate", the value of the Iranian rial is tightly controlled by the central bank. The state ownership of oil export earnings and its large reserves, supervision of letters of credit, together with current - and capital outflow account - outflows allows management of demand. The central bank has allowed the rial to weaken in nominal terms (4.6% on average in 2009) in order to support the competitiveness of non-oil exports.

There is an active black market in foreign exchange, but the development of the TSE rate and the ready availability of foreign exchange over 2000 narrowed the differential to as little as IR100 in mid-2000.[18] However the spread increased again in September 2010 because channels for transferring foreign currency to and from Iran are blocked because of international sanctions.[19][20]

Monetary policy is facilitated by a network of 50 Iranian-run forex dealers in Iran, the rest of the Middle East and Europe. According to the Wall Street Journal and dealers, the Iranian government was selling $250 million daily to keep the Iranian rial exchange rate against the US dollar between 9,700 and 9,900 in 2009.[21] At times (before the devaluation of the rial in 2013) the authorities weakened the national currency intentionally by withholding the supply of hard currency to earn more rial-denominated income, usually at times when the government faced a budget deficit.[22]

The widening of the gap between official and unofficial exchange ratesstood at over 20% in November 2011. This shows the correlation between the value of foreign currencies and the domestic inflationary environment.[23]

The unofficial rial vs. US dollar rate underwent severe fluctuations in January 2012 (the rial losing 50% of its value in a few days, following new international sanctions against the CBI), eventually settling at 17,000 rials at the end of the period. Besides all the bad effects on the economy in general, this had the effect of boosting the competitiveness of Iran's domestic industries abroad. Following President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's decision to liberalize the mechanism by which bank interest rates are set (granting banks the authority to raise interest rates to 21%),[22] CBI announced that it would be fixing the official rate of the rial against the dollar at 12,260 rials from 28 January 2012 and seek to meet all demand for foreign currency through banks.[22][24][25][26][27]

On September 25, 2012, the Iranian rial fell to a new low, trading at 26,500 to the US dollar. The drop followed the government's launch of a foreign exchange center a day before, that would provide importers of some basic goods with foreign exchanges, at a rate about 2% cheaper than the open market rate on a given day. The announced rate at the center on September 24, 2012 was 23,620 rials to USD.[28] By early October 2012, Rial had further fell in value to about 38,500 Rials per USD in the free market. The Iranian rial was devalued in July 2013 as the government reduced subsidisation of the exchange rate against the dollar.[7][8]

Official vs. Free exchange rates (Rials per US dollar)[29][30]
Year Official rate Parallel/Free rate
2014 25,780.2 N/A
2013 18,517.2 31,839
2012 12,175.5 26,059
2011 10,800 13,568
2010 10,308 10,308
2009 9,900 9,900
2008 9,143 9,143
2007 9,408 9,408
2006 9,227 9,227
2005 8,964 8,964
2004 8,885 8,885
2003 8,193 8,193
Pre-unification, rials per US dollar:
Market: 8,200 (2002); 8,050 (2001); 8,350 (2000)[31]
Preferred: 6,906 (2002); 1,753 (2001); 1,764 (2000)[32]

Exchange rate system

Until 2002, Iran's exchange rate system was based on a multi-layered system, where state and para-state enterprises benefited from the "preferred or official rate" (1750 rial for $1) while the private sector had to pay the "market rate" (8000 rial for $1), hence creating an unequal competition environment. The "official rate" of the Iranian rial—1,750 per U.S. dollar—applied to oil and gas export receipts, imports of essential goods and services, and repayment of external debt. The "export rate", fixed at 3,000 rials per dollar since May 1995, applied to all other trade transactions, but mainly to capital goods imports of public enterprises.[18]

In 1998, in order to ease pressure on exporters, the central bank introduced a currency certificate system allowing exporters to trade certificates for hard currency on the Tehran Stock Exchange, thus creating a floating value for the rial known as the "TSE rate" or "market rate". This method finally replaced the fixed "export rate" (IR3,000:US$1) in March 2000, and has since held steady at some IR8,500:US$1.

In March 2002, the multi-tiered system was replaced by a unified, market-driven exchange rate. In 2002 the "official rate" a/k/a "preferred rate" (IR1,752:US$1) was abolished, and the TSE rate became the basis for the new unified foreign-exchange regime.[33] Iran's Central Bank channels more than 90 per cent of hard currency into the local market (2012).[22]

Forex bourse

In a move interpreted as aiming at unifying currency exchange rates, on September 24, 2012, the government launched a foreign exchange centre, that would provide importers of some basic goods with foreign exchanges, at a rate about 2% cheaper than the open market rate on a given day.[28][34] This project was canceled following the strong depreciation of the rial between 2012 and 2013 but was put on the agenda again in 2015 for use in the reunification of forex rates (planned for 2017) and the introduction of currency derivatives.[35]

In addition to Banks, Exchange shops are also available for limited transactions. Exchange shops must operate under the licenses issued by Central Bank of Iran. Foreign currencies can be bought or sold at these exchange shops.

Exchange restriction

Exchange restriction arises from limitations on the transferability of rial profits from certain investments under the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Act and from limitations on other investment-related current international payments under this act.[36]

Multiple currency practices

In 2010, the cases of multiple currency practices arose from the following:[36]

  1. Budget subsidies for foreign exchange purchases in connection with payments of certain letters of credit opened prior to March 21, 2002 under the previous multiple exchange rate system (see above);
  2. Obligations of entities that had received allocations of foreign exchange at subsidized "allocated rates" under the previous multiple exchange rate system to surrender unused allocations to the Central Bank of Iran at the allocation rate.

Until 2012, the dollar had different exchange rates, depending where you are buying your currency[37]

In 2012, Bank Markazi classified a long list of goods into categories with priorities 1 through 10, leaving it to the parallel market to take of all other needs. Priorities 1 and 2 are food and medicine, receiving foreign exchange at the official rate of 12,260 rials per dollar, followed by other categories with lower priorities, which are mostly intermediate goods used in industrial production.[38]


Because of the current low value of rial, and that people rarely use the term, redenomination or change of currency was first proposed in the late 1980s. The issue has re-emerged and been under discussion, as a result of issuance of larger banknotes in 2003. Opponents of redenomination are wary of more inflation resulting from psychological effects, and increase in velocity of money leading to more instabilities in the economy of Iran.[39][40]

On 12 April 2007, the Economics Commission of the Parliament announced initiation of a statute in draft to change the currency, claiming redenominations had helped reduce inflation elsewhere, such as in Turkey.[41][42] In 2008, an official at the Central Bank of Iran said the bank plans to slash four zeros off the rial and rename it the toman.[43] The bank printed two new travelers cheques, which function quite similar to a banknote, with values of 500,000 and 1,000,000 rials. However, they have the figures "50" and "100" written on their top right hand corners, respectively, which is seen as the first step toward a new currency.[43]

In 2010, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that Iran would remove three zeros (not the four that had been proposed) from its national currency as part of the economic reform plan.[44]

In April 2011, it was reported that the Central Bank is working on a six-month redenomination project to cut four zeros from the national currency and replace old bank notes with new ones, similar to the redenomination of the Turkish lira and introduction of the Turkish new lira in 2005.[45][46][47][48]

A website to poll the public on the redenomination plan was launched on 21 July 2011; the public was allowed to vote on how many zeroes to cut and what the new currency's name should be. Preliminary results indicate that four zeroes would be cut (in line with the government's recommendation) and that the name will be changed to Parsi.[49]

CIA market manipulation

It has been reported that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has tried unsuccessfully to manipulate the Iranian rial over the past few years in order to destabilize the country.[50][51] Iran reported arresting 20 "Forex manipulators" in 2012.[52]

In 2013, talking about the sanctions against Iran, US Senator Carl Levin said that Iranian Rial banknotes are printed in Europe.[53]


Classical rial

A golden daric coin minted during the time of the ancient Persian Empire

During the late 18th and early 19th century, Silver coins were issued in denominations of 18, 14, 12 and 1 rial.

Modern rial

50 Iranian rial (1994).
Obverse: Fatima Masumeh Shrine with name of shrine below. Reverse: Face value, country name and Islamic year (جمهوری اسلامی ايران ۵۰ ريال ١٣٧٥).

The first coins of the second rial currency, introduced in 1932, were in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10 and 25 dinar, 12, 1, 2 and 5 rial, with the 12 to 5 rial coins minted in silver. Gold coins denominated in pahlavi were also issued, initially valued at 100 rial. In 1944, the silver coinage was reduced in size, with the smallest silver coins being 1 rial pieces. Minting of all denominations below 25 dinar ended in this year. In 1945, silver 10 rial coins were introduced. In 1953, silver coins ceased to be minted, with the smallest denomination now 50 dinar. 20 rial coins were introduced in 1972.

After the Islamic Revolution, the coinage designs were changed to remove the Shah's effigy but the sizes and compositions were not immediately changed. 50 dinar coins were only minted in 1979 and 50 rial coins were introduced in 1980. In 1992, a new coinage was introduced with smaller 1, 5, 10 and 50 rial coins and new 100 rial pieces. 250 rial coins were introduced the following year. In 2004, the sizes of the 50, 100 and 250 rial coins were reduced and 500 rial coins were introduced. New, smaller types of 250 and 500 rials were introduced in 2009, along with the new denomination of 1000 rials.

Current series

Iranian rial coins currently in circulation
Image Value Technical parameters Description Date of
Obverse Reverse Diameter Thickness Mass Composition Edge Obverse Reverse first minting
[54] [55] 50 20.2 mm 1.33 mm 3.5 g copper
Plain Value, motif, year of minting, "Islamic Republic of Iran" Fatima Masumeh Shrine 2004
[56] [57] 100 22.95 mm 1.36 mm 4.6 g copper
Plain Value, motif, year of minting, "Islamic Republic of Iran" Imam Reza Shrine 2004
[58] [59] 250 18.8 mm ??? 2.8 g copper
Plain Value, motif, year of minting, "Islamic Republic of Iran" Feyziyeh madrasah 2009
[60] [61] 500 20.8 mm ??? 3.9 g copper
Reeded Value, motif, year of minting, "Islamic Republic of Iran" Saadi's Mausoleum in Shiraz 2009
[62] [63] 1000 23.7 mm ??? 5.8 g copper
Reeded Value, motif, year of minting, "Islamic Republic of Iran" Khaju Bridge 2009
These images are to scale at 2.5 pixels per millimetre. For table standards, see the coin specification table.


1000 Rials bank note of the Shah era

In 1932, notes were issued by the "Bank Melli Iran" in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 500 rials. 1000 rial notes were introduced in 1935, followed by 200 rial notes in 1951 and 5000 and 10,000 rials in 1952. 5 rial notes were last issued in the 1940s, with 10 rial notes disappearing in the 1960s. In 1961, the Central Bank of Iran took over the issuance of paper money.

In 1979, after the Islamic revolution, Iranian banknotes featuring the Shah's face were counter-stamped with intricate designs to cover the Shah's face. The first regular issues of the Islamic Republic were in denominations of 100, 200, 500, 1000, 5000 and 10,000 rials. 2000 rial notes were introduced in 1986.

They are issued by the Central Bank of Iran, each bearing the signature of the President of the Iranian Central Bank. The 100, 200 and 500 rial banknotes are becoming increasingly uncommon; shopkeepers habitually give out small packages of gum in lieu of the last 500 rials of change. For day to day means people will carry wards of 100,000's.


Current series
Image Value Dimensions
Main colour Description
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse
1 T 130 × 67 Silver Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar Value, "Imperial State of Iran"
5 T 136 × 69 Tan Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar Value, "Imperial State of Iran"
50 T 142 × 71 Gray Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar Value, Lion and Sun


Current series
Image Value Dimensions
Main colour Description
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse
5 130 × 67 Green Reza Shah Pahlavi Value, Lion and Sun with crown
10 136 × 69 Gray Reza Shah Pahlavi Value, Lion and Sun with crown
20 142 × 71 Purple Reza Shah Pahlavi Sa'dabad Palace
500 142 × 71 Navy Pasargadae
1,000 148 × 73 Silver Reza Shah Pahlavi


Current series
Image Value Dimensions
Main colour Description
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse
10 130 × 67 Silver Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi Imperial seal of Darius the Great
10 130 × 67 Silver Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi Avicenna Mausoleum
10 130 × 67 Silver Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi Amir Kabir Dam
20 130 × 67 Brown Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi Amir Kabir Dam
50 130 × 67 Green Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi in a public meeting
50 130 × 67 Green Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi Pasargadae
100 130 × 67 Purple Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi Social Services
100 130 × 67 Purple Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi Marble Palace
100 130 × 67 Purple Reza Pahlavi and Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi 50th Anniversary of the establishment of Pahlavi Dynasty
200 130 × 67 Blue-Green Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi Azadi Tower
1000 130 × 67 Brown Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi Tomb of Hafez

Imam Reza shrine Series (1980/81)

Current series
Image Value Dimensions
Main colour Description
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse
100 136 × 69 Purple Imam Reza shrine Chaharbagh School
200 136 × 69 Blue-Green Imam Reza shrine Avicenna Mausoleum
500 142 × 71 Brown Imam Reza shrine Winged horse
1,000 148 × 73 Pink Imam Reza shrine Tomb of Hafez
5,000 154 × 75 Purple Imam Reza shrine Tehran's Oil refinery
10,000 160 × 77 Green Imam Reza shrine Old building of Parliament of Iran

Revolutionary Series (1981/85)

Current series
Image Value Dimensions
Main colour Description
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse
100 130 × 67 Purple Hassan Modarres Old building of Islamic Consultative Assembly
200 142 × 71 Grey Jame Mosque of Yazd Agricultural Workers
500 142 × 71 Gray-Green Friday prayers University of Tehran main entrance
1,000 148 × 73 Brown Feyziyeh School Dome of the Rock
2,000 148 × 73 Purple Liberation of Khorramshahr Kaaba
5,000 154 × 75 Red Revolutionaries Fatima Masumeh Shrine
10,000 160 × 77 Blue Revolutionaries Imam Reza shrine

Current (Imam Khomeini) Series (1992)

Current series
Image Value Dimensions
Main colour Description
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse
[64] [65] 1,000 148 × 73 Brown Ruhollah Khomeini Dome of the Rock
[66] [67] 2,000 151 × 74 Onion-skin purple Ruhollah Khomeini Kaaba
[68] [69] 5,000 154 × 75 Brown-Olive Ruhollah Khomeini Flowers and birds
[70] [70] 5,000 154 × 75 Brown-Olive Ruhollah Khomeini Omid satellite, Safir 2 rocket, globe with the marked territory of Iran
[71] [71] 5,000 154 × 75 Brown-Olive Ruhollah Khomeini Pottery from Zabol (Eastern Iran)
[72] [73] 10,000 160 × 77 Green Ruhollah Khomeini Mount Damavand
[74] [75] 20,000 163 × 78 Blue Ruhollah Khomeini Naqsh-e Jahan Square
[76] [76] 20,000 163 × 78 Blue Ruhollah Khomeini Al-Aqsa Mosque
[76] [76] 20,000 163 × 78 Blue Ruhollah Khomeini Aghazadeh Mansion
[77] [78] 50,000 166 × 79 Ochre Ruhollah Khomeini Map of Iran with Atom symbol, quote in Persian from the prophet Mohammed ("If the science exists in this constellation, men from Persia will reach it"), and "Persian Gulf" in English
[77] [79] 50,000 166 × 79 Ochre Ruhollah Khomeini University of Tehran main entrance
[80] [81] 100,000 166 × 79 Light olive greenish Ruhollah Khomeini Saadi's Mausoleum in Shiraz

Issuance of larger notes

Printing banknotes larger than 10,000 rials was first proposed in 1989, and in 1992 the central bank asked for government permission to print 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 rial notes. This was not realized at that time, due to fears of inflation and counterfeiting.[39] The 10,000 rials note remained the highest valued banknote for more than 50 years until 2005, when a 20,000 rial banknote was introduced and subsequently a 50,000 rial banknote was introduced with the subject being the Iranian nuclear energy program. The note was issued on 12 March.[82][83] The note features a quote by the prophet Mohammed, translated as: "Even if knowledge is at the Pleiades, the people from the land of Persia would attain it".[84] Banknotes currently in circulation are 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 rials. After the death of Ruhollah Khomeini, his portraits were used on the obverse of 1000 rial banknotes and greater.

Cash cheques

Currently the highest valued legal tender banknote issued by the central bank is 100,000 rials (about U.S. $3.20 on Dec, 5, 2015).[85][86] However 500,000 rial and 1,000,000 rial Iran Cheques circulate freely and are treated as cash.

The central bank used to allow major state banks to print their own banknotes known as "cash cheques". They were a form of bearer teller's-cheque with fixed amounts, printed in the form of official banknotes. Once they were acquired from banks, they could function like cash for a year. Two forms of these banknotes were available. One known as "Iran cheque" could be cashed in any financial institution, while the other could be cashed at the issuing bank. They were printed in 200,000, 500,000, 1,000,000, 2,000,000 and 5,000,000 rial values.[87][88]

In 2008, CBI revoked this privilege from banks, and currently issues its own Iran Cheque in 500,000 and 1,000,000 denominations.[89]

Current IRR exchange rates

See also


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External links

Iranian Rial
Preceded by:
Iranian qiran
Reason: removed from Iranian currency by National Bank
Ratio: at par
Currency of Iran
1932 present
Succeeded by:
Reason: financial reform
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