Iranian Currency and Exchange: Banknotes in Iran

Apart from the many zeros involved in any transaction, foreign visitors need to be aware that prices are always quoted in rials when written, but are quoted in Tumans in speech.

One tuman is equal to ten rials. The tuman unit has no official standing, but has the obvious practical use of getting rid of one zero.

Banknotes are used a lot, but in recent years the use of local credit cards is rising.

Paper money comes in denominations of 10000, 20000, 50000 and recently 100000 rials, which are too small for substantial purchases.

Chek-pul (check money)

In recent years a useful method also has been adopted which does away with the need to carry bags of money when going shopping. It is called chek-pul (check money) and works like a traveler’s check but doesn’t have a name written on it, so it functions as a large denomination bill.

The most common denominations of chek-puls are 500000 and 1000000 rials, but even higher ones are used in large transactions.

They can be bought from any bank and, after the streamlining of the financial system, they are accepted everywhere.

At present, Iranian currency can only be bought in some Middle East countries, so if you are coming from anywhere else, you will need to buy rials after you arrive.

Currency exchange offices (Money changers in Iran)

There is a currency exchange office at the new Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran as well as several more in the center of Tehran and other big cities.

A network of currency exchange offices operate in Tehran and in major cities under the licence of Iranian National Bank.

Many banks also offer foreign exchange facilities, but not in all branches. Your host and hotel staff should be able to advise you further.

Some tips how to exchange:

  • Always ask around from several people and exchange points for rates to choose the best one as they will give you different
  • If you get 500 000 bills it is better to check them for banknote protection signs. Every exchange office has ultraviolet light machine
  • If you exchange in a street, you may be asked to pay commission, insist on the full amount (i always refused to do so, and got the rate that was offered)
  • Don’t exchange too much, as the rate is changing very fast
  • If you go to smaller towns or villages, make sure you have enough money as you may have difficulties to find an exchange office or people to exchange, plus you will get lower rates
  • Note that other exchange office than mentioned below (like jewelry shops, etc) usually have lower rates

In Shiraz the exchange offices are located not far from Shohada sq, and Kamir khan castle.