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Bermuda's domestic and non-exportable dollar is at par with USA

Visitors from all countries should always bring only US currency notes and coins, usable island-wide

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By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) at e-mail exclusively for Bermuda Online

To refer to this web file, please use "bermuda-online.org/money" as your Subject.

The local-only Bermuda Dollar pictured below, is not exportable. It is not used by traders world-wide. It is not cashable or exchangeable by any foreign banks. It is used only by local citizens and residents - not by international companies based in Bermuda (all of which use US dollars). Visitors to Bermuda, irrespective of from where they fly to get here, cannot buy or sell Bermuda dollars abroad. They should bring US dollars - freely accepted and officially at par everywhere. The Bermuda dollar is pegged to and is based on the international value of the US dollar. Why?  Because Bermuda's total land area is only 21.75 square miles or 35 square kilometers.  The nearest country is the USA (North Carolina), 600 miles to the west. 85% of Bermuda's imports, visitors commerce and international business operations derive come from the USA. 

When visitors wish to use an ATM card in Bermuda to get money from their non-local bank before they go home, they receive Bermuda dollars only. they cannot use these in any other country except Bermuda. If you, as a visitor, purchase any goods in cash in US dollars and get change from shops or restaurants in Bermuda money, make a point of asking for US dollars instead. Explain that you have no choice as you will be leaving soon and can't use that Bermuda money beyond Bermuda.  Most local retailers will have US dollars and US change and will gladly do this for you. 

If you work in Bermuda, are paid in Bermuda dollars and wish to send money back to your home country, go to the Bermuda bank where you are a customer to buy foreign exchange at the prevailing rate and arrange for a wire transfer, safer and far quicker than by postal mail. You can do this online.

Latest Bermuda money notes

Latest Bermuda Money notes, to take effect from January 1, 2014

One of Bermuda’s banknotes is among the nine most beautiful in the world. That’s the opinion of the International Bank Note Society (IBNS), which each year names a “banknote of the year.” It joins only eight other “banknotes of the year” named by IBNS to date. The members of the IBNS Board said they considered the Bermuda $2 note an example of the most attractive elements which “create interest among the ever-widening community of banknote collectors.” 

Bermuda $2 bill

They said the combination of colours were “appealing and blended well throughout all components of the design. Additionally, the range of items depicted on the note were attractively presented and allowed the eye to linger and to search for natural and historical design elements which were not immediately apparent. The Bermuda bank note concerned was outstanding for its puffed up Bermuda bluebird that towers over a less-than-prominent profile of Queen Elizabeth II on the front of these new vertical notes. The back is more subtle, featuring the clock tower at the Royal Naval Dockyard and a famous statue of Neptune. One of the factors recommending the note to the judges was an interesting array of security features, despite its low face value. These include an Optiks embedded metallic thread, with an aperture on the front depicting the island; a Hibiscus watermark on the top section on the front; the Cornerstone — a watermark feature on the four corners of the note enhancing the durability of the banknote; and, on the back, the Gemini feature portraying a compass which fluoresces in two colours under UV light. 

The vertical banknote series was introduced in Bermuda in 2009 — the first major redesign of Bermudian banknotes for 40 years. 2013 marks the last for Bermuda’s old-style horizontal bank notes, which cease to be legal tender as of January 1, 2014. From June 30, 2013 the vertical note series began to replace the “legacy” notes of $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 over the course of the year. The Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA) which issues them as the regulatory authority arm of the Bermuda Government  said members of the public can exchange them for the new vertical notes at their own bank or credit union. The initial concept designs for the vertical series were created by Gene Bothwick, one of firm De La Rue’s long-serving designers, who retired in 2007 after 23 years of service. These concepts were then developed for production by the De La Rue banknote Preliminaries Department with input and guidance from the BMA.

Bermuda money notes until December 31, 2013

Bermuda money notes in circulation until December 31, 2013

Bermuda $50 note

Bermuda dollar bills and coins

Bermuda notes and coins

Bermuda dollar notes (bills) and coins, showing bills of $100, $50, $20, $10, $5, $2 and coins of $1 (it replaced the $1 bill), 25 cents, 10 cents, 5 cents and 1 cent (missing from photo). 

Bermuda dollar notes history

Bermuda dollar notes from 2009Update: 2013. November 28.  The end is nigh for Bermudas legacy horizontal bank notes. Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA) reminded the public today that the December 31, 2013 deadline is fast approaching. After that cut-off point, the old notes will no longer be considered legal tender but can be exchanged for new notes at banks and credit unions. The BMA cannot exchange notes and they cannot be switched at stores or other cash businesses. The switch to new banknotes was announced in June and the BMA's director of operations, Shanna Lespere, said the legacy notes had been gradually culled from circulation since, in tandem with local banks. Although the legacy notes will only be legal tender for a matter of weeks, the public has ten years to exchange them.

June 7, 2013. This year marks the last for Bermuda’s old-style horizontal-print bank notes, which cease to be legal tender come January 1, 2014. Starting June 30, the vertical note series introduced in 2009 is to replace the “legacy” notes of $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 over the course of the year. As old currency gets taken out of circulation, members of the public can exchange them for fresh notes at their own bank or credit union. Banks will also switch notes for visitors — up to a cut-off date to be set by each institution. ATMs and retailers will continue to dispense legacy tender — but the amount of old notes will steadily decrease. Although the old notes will no longer be accepted in stores after the start of 2014, they will still be accepted by banks for exchange. The Bermuda Monetary Authority yesterday announced the launch of an Island-wide public awareness campaign on the switch. However, neither the BMA nor retailers will be exchanging the legacy banknotes for the public. For details, visit the Authority’s website at www.bma.bm.

Bermuda Dollar Notes began in February 1970 (see "History of Bermuda banknotes" below). Before then, the Currency Act of 1841 tied coins and notes to the United Kingdom. Until then, currency notes were distinctly Bermudian yet tied to sterling. They were issued in British pounds and shillings. Today's notes are tied to the American dollar and are worth the same as the latter. They are in different colors and as $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes, printed by Thomas De La Rue of London. 

In early 2009 Bermuda's bank notes had a completely new look and feel. The $1 million worth of new notes ere launched to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the settlement of the Island and the Bermuda Monetary Authority's (BMA) 40th anniversary. They feature the first total redesign of the country's note currency since the Bermuda dollar was issued in 1970. They incorporate a distinct Bermudian look with the use of bold colours, as well as local scenes, flora and fauna, in addition to including some of the most up-to-date anti-counterfeiting technology. The Queen's head has been moved from the main image to the front left corner of the notes after the BMA was given approval by Buckingham Palace and the UK Post Office.

Bermuda notes and coinsThe Authority updated the design of the bank notes to include the latest features, including a new watermark in the form of a hibiscus flower and an electrolyte in the shape of a sail boat which can be seen when it is held up to the light, a see-through feature comprising completed images of creatures individual to each denomination, serial numbers increasing in size, an iridescent band on the $20, $50 and $100 bills, and a latent image. The notes also include a see-through Optiks feature, the first of its kind to be used in the western hemisphere, which appears as an oval on the front and a strip on the back and forms a map of Bermuda repeated inside when held up to the light.

The BMA, which is responsible for issuing Bermuda's notes and coins, started planning for the bank note redesign project in 2005 and received permission and support from Finance Minister Paula Cox and the Cabinet for the design via the passage of the Bermuda Monetary Authority Regulations 2007. The BMA's currency unit worked with UK-based De La Rue Currency to develop the features on the new bank notes. The BMA consulted financial institutions and will carry out training sessions with industry groups, schools and other associations, including the New Banknote Working Group, which discusses institutional needs and addresses concerns about the new notes.

One of the Longtails featured on Bermuda's new $50 banknote as been described as the wrong bird, a species that does not nest on the Island. It is the Red-billed Tropicbird, which hails from the West Indies and eastern Pacific, for the main image on the note. The Bermuda Monetary Authority apologized for "any specific technical error" but said the Red-billed bird was occasionally present on the Island and was chosen as the main image because its colour better fits the design of the note. The bird in question is larger than the Bermuda type, which is formally known as the White-tailed Tropicbird. It has a slight black bar on the upper wing, black wing tips and little black lines through the eye. It also has fine black barring on its back and a red bill, when the Bermuda bird, which is of a type found in all three of the world's oceans, has an orange one.  

A banknote design has to combine aesthetics, accuracy of depiction and technical concerns. Bermuda notes feature graphical representations of the colours, flora and fauna present in the Island. The choice of the non-local bird is not the only thing that has riled environmentalists. Other creatures that are not endemic to Bermuda feature on some of the other banknotes. The whistling frog ($20) was an accidental introduction. Similarly, the cardinal bird ($100) was introduced by man. The blue marlin is not unique to Bermuda but the Bermuda Bluebird is.  However, the Cahow, Bermuda's national bird, isn't featured.

US dollar in Bermuda

US Dollar

It is used by business visitors, tourists, international companies based in Bermuda and their non-Bermudian employees. They can open US dollar bank accounts with the local banks, and elsewhere. It is traded at par with the Bermuda dollar and accepted everywhere as THE currency of Bermuda's main industries, in every sector of tourism and international business when dealing with or shopping for hotels, guest houses, house keeping units, restaurants, taxis, buses, moped cycles, souvenirs and more. US dollars may also be acquired by Bermudians and their families from the local banks for legitimate travel and related purposes such as overseas purchases, educational costs, support for family members abroad, subscriptions for newspapers and other needs. An exchange rate is paid to the local banks. There is no limit on how much Bermudians may buy. For more information, contact the Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA).

Foreign Currency Purchase Tax

See http://www.gov.bm/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=275&&PageID=231425&mode=2&in_hi_userid=2&cached=true. All who work in or have business dealings in Bermuda or who visit should note that Bermuda, uniquely in the economies of the international business centers, has a Foreign Currency Purchase Tax (FCPT).  It applies to the purchase of all non-local currencies including the US Dollar. On February 26, 2010 the Bermuda Government doubled this tax, from one half of 1% to a full 1% per transaction. This includes all purchases of foreign currencies for travel and business purposes and all telegraphic (wire) transfers of monies from Bermuda to individuals and businesses abroad. In addition to bank charges built into the cost of wire transfers, the Bermuda Government charge consumers $1,000 for every $100,000 taken or wired abroad. There is no Government Receipt given for this FCPT charge. 

Foreign Exchange brokers in Bermuda

Currently, none independent of the Bermuda banks above.

Bermuda Coins and this history include

1615 and 1616. Hog or Hogge Money - Bermuda's (then referred to as the Somers Islands) first minted currency and first coinage for any overseas British colony, earliest of all British colonial currencies - was created in London by the Bermuda Company and circulated until 1624. They were coins, not notes. They were named after the wild feral Spanish hog found by the first colonists, dropped off ships. They were left to swim ashore by the Spanish and Portuguese in the 16th century. 

Bermuda hogs 1616

Left: Bermuda feral hogs. From them came Hog or Hogge Money

hogge money, 12 pence 1615

Hogge money, 12 pence (1 shilling) 

Hogge money 1615, three pence Hogge money, sixpence

Hogge money, three pence and six pence

Hogge money, sixpence seen on both sides

Hogge money, sixpence, seen on both sides

It has been long been claimed by both modern-day descendants of early to mid 17th century colonists in Bermuda, some of whom came from Scotland  that this both distinctive and unique money with which they were paid  was the original source of the Scottish tradition of Hogmanay, the name given in that part of the world to New Year's Eve celebrations. It is pronounced only slightly differently. But this is yet to be proved.  Most non-Scots believe the term to have been of French origin, from about 1604. But Hogge Money must surely have an equal claim, being both of similar vintage and pronunciation undisturbed by the French variations shown in the Hogmanay Wikipedia reference at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hogmanay, plus having once been real money by that name. At any rate, in 1995, a unique collection of 15 pieces of Hogge Money was handed over to the Bermuda Monetary Authority on permanent loan, by the Bermuda National Parks Commission. Hogge Money was followed by the Bermuda Ship's Penny in 1793. Today, coins in circulation are about the same size and shape as American coins. They are in values of $1 (it replaced the $1 bill), 25 cents, 10 cents, 5 cents and 1 cent. On their reverse sides, the $1 coin features the Bermuda Fitted Dinghy, the 25 cents the national bird, the Bermuda Longtail, the 10 cents the Bermuda Easter Lily, the 5 cents an Angel fish and and the 1 cent the pig on the original early 17th century Hogge Money. On their obverse, Her Majesty the Queen is profiled.

Commemoratives

 There have been numerous commemorative coins, for collectors. Each coin is available at the BMA's Notes and Coins Exhibit. On their reverse, they show aspects of Bermuda. On their obverse, Her Majesty the Queen is profiled. 

1986 Turtle coin

1986 Turtle

A distinctive one-of-a-kind 1987 Aviation Commemorative is shown below. 

1987 Bermuda 50th anniversary of commercial aviation coin

Bermuda Dollar coin 002Bermuda Dollar coin 002aBermuda Dollar Coin 004

 

Hogge money commemorative gold coin 1989Hogge money 1989 commemoratives

Bottom two above, Hogge money commemoratives 1989

 

The 2008 Silver Proof Hawksbill Turtle coin - not shown below - depicts one of Bermuda's most rare sea creatures, the Hawksbill Turtle, also found in a few other exotic places. This critically endangered turtle is found swimming among the coral reefs surrounding the Island.  

Earlier bank notes in Bermuda

In descending order of issue

Bermuda money before and after 1970

The old (pre-1970 Bermuda Pound) notes and since 1970 the Bermuda Dollar notes

Money - 10 pound note

Above. May 1964.

Money - £5 note

Above. 1941. These notes were issued after the US Bases were established, all showing Bermuda Government and King George VI. Only the orange note was circulated.

money 1927 Bermuda pound note

money 1927 Bermuda pound note 2

Above. 1927. September 30. A £1 note, front and back.

1920. Five shillings notes (re-issued 1935).

Bermuda Government £ sterling note

Above. 1914. Proof of first Bermuda Government £1 note

1914, December 2. First Bermuda £1 note. Printed by the American Bank Note Company in Ottawa, showing King George V.

First Bermuda banknote - from Canada

Above. 1883. First Bermuda Banknote. A Canadian $5 note printed for the Merchant Bank of Halifax and converted to a £1  and 1 shilling (one guinea) note for use in Bermuda. 

Euro currency

Bermuda's three banks offer the Euro to all visitors and business executives or representatives heading for Ireland and countries of the continent of Europe where the Euro replaced their national currencies on January 1, 2002. However, it should be noted by incoming visitors from Europe where the Euro is now the single currency, that the Euro is not accepted in Bermuda. The only acceptable foreign currency is the US dollar as described above.

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Last Updated: October 26, 2014.
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