Iran is probably one of the only countries in the world that somehow has two money currencies! According to those who have traveled to Iran, Money currency is one of the most confusing things here, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get the hang of it. In this post, we’ll try to explain how the money system works in Iran.
Rial or Toman?
The first question that comes to mind regarding Iranian money is what’s the difference between Rial and Toman and what you should know about their usage as a tourist?
Iran’s official currency is Iranian Rial (IRR) but in conversations and people’s daily life Toman rules! Each Toman is equal to Ten Rials (1 Toman = 10 Rials). That means by dropping one zero from Rial you have it’s Toman equivalent.
Why Iranians use another currency instead of the official one?
To answer this question, we should take a look through history. Before 1932 Iran’s official currency was Toman. Toman has been a part of Iranian money for so long as it has a history of 8 centuries.
In 1932, Reza Shah Pahlavi changed the official currency to Iranian Rial. It’s been almost 90 years from the change but people seem to be happy with the good old Toman (old habits die hard)
Obviously, having one less zero is also an important reason for people to prefer Toman over Rial.
How Iranian money might confuse you?
- The numbers written on the coins, banknotes and usually the price tags are in Rial but you hear Toman in conversations
- There are different denominations of the Iranian Rial banknotes and the number of zeros makes the difference. The most important banknotes are 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000, 500,000 and 1,000,000 Rials (as well as 1,000, 2,000 and 5,000 Rials). Banknotes less than 5,000 Rials are not widely used and are also available as coins
- In everyday use, people drop the thousand from prices. For example, Instead of one thousand tomans, they simply say 1 toman (though they tend to be more explicit when discussing prices with tourists). In the recent years, even some restaurants and cafes are also following this pattern in their pricings. So, for example, if the price of a coffee is written as 7, you add the thousand to get the price in Toman (7,000 Tomans) and then another zero to get it in Rials (70,000 Rials).
By knowing different banknotes you can avoid a lot of these confusions.
Exchanging money in Iran
make sure you have enough cash with you when traveling through Iran because even though there are ATMs all over the country, they are not connected to international banking system. that means your international credit/debit cards won’t work in Iran.
You can exchange most major currencies in Iran, but we suggest having either US Dollars or Euros with you as they’re more commonly accepted.
When it comes to exchanging money, your have three options,
- Official exchange offices ( called “Sarrafi” in Farsi)
- Street salesmen (mostly around touristy places)
There are two exchange rates for some currencies including US Dollars and Euros, the lower rate is called the official rate which solely used for business purposes and is controlled by the government, and the higher rate (which is literally called the real rate) is the rate you’re going to exchange money at. With that being said, Avoid going to banks for exchanging money because they use the official (lower) rate.
Street salesmen are mostly around tourist hotspots and bazaars, they might offer you a slightly better rate than the exchange offices, but they won’t hand you any receipt. Some locals prefer to change money in these “black markets”. Even though it’s unlikely to get scammed by street money changers, we recommend not taking the risk. It’s illegal to exchange money on the streets and if any problem occurs, you can’t really do anything about it.
The official exchange offices are the best and safest options. They will change your money with the “real” rate and you can find them everywhere.
Also have this in your mind that the exchange rate changes frequently. there are two ways to make sure what is the current exchange rate,
- Checking online
- Checking exchange offices boards
At the moment, in most of the famous currency converter platforms such as XE.com, the “official” rate is used for calculations, thus using those services for converting your money could confuse you.
There are quite a few local sources to get the latest conversion rate. Below you can find one of them:
it is advised to exchange money every few days and based on your needs, changing your money all at once will leave you with a huge amount of cash that you need to carry with you everywhere. Iran is a very safe country but still, like everywhere else, caution is required.
On December 7, 2016 the government approved changing Iranian money currency from Rial to Toman. if the parliament votes to approve it too, Iranian money will be switched back to Toman after nearly nine decades.
Due to numerous financial issues our travelers have faced, we have decided to introduce a safe, reliable and convenient option: the TAP Persia Tourist Card. No need to carry around large wads of cash with you at all times. Receive mobile notifications/texts informing you of all financial transactions. Charge your card using any currency, from anywhere, at any time. The card is accepted everyone in Iran. Click the button below to register for your TAP Persia Tourist Card today.