Peru Currency: Peruvian Nuevo Sol S/.
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The Nuevo Sol (S/.) is the currency of Peru (PEN = International code for the Peruvian currency). It is subdivided into 100 Centimos. There are banknotes for S/.10 , S/.20 , S/.50 , S/.100 and S/. 200. Coins have been issued for 1 Centimo, 5 Centimos, 10 Centimos, 20 Centimos, 50 Centimos, S/.1 , S/.2 , and S/. 5.-.
How to tell the difference between legitimate banknotes and counterfeit banknotes:
There are plenty of counterfeit banknotes in circulation and tourists are prime targets to receive them. Armed with some basic knowledge about how to spot a false note may save you a lot of money and passing a false note to a Peruvian won't win you any new friends and may even get you into worse trouble.
As with most banknotes throughout the world many of the newer notes have a greater level of security built-in to them, the same applies to Peruvian notes. However the guide below should help you to identify all legitimate notes no matter how old they are. Some of the denomination bills have security measures specific to their value but we are not going to go into fine details here, all you need to know are the basics.
Let's take a closer look at the 20 Nuevo Sole note as shown above.
(1) The Watermark.
All Peruvian banknotes have a watermark with an image similar to the main image on the front of the banknote. If you hold the note up to the light you will see the watermark in the white area on the left hand side of the note. However most counterfeit notes also have a watermark, maybe not of such good quality, so even if it does have a watermark this doesn't guarantee a legitimate banknote. If the banknote doesn't have a watermark then it really is poor copy or even just a colour photocopy!! Obviously don't accept it.
(2) Changing Coloured Ink
If you look to the right of the 20 Nuevos Soles banknote above you will see a large 20 written on its side. If you look at the note from directly above the 20 appears to be written in a shiny red ink. If you look at the note side-on the colour of the ink changes from red to a green colour. The ink on a counterfeit notes does not change colour.
The photos above were taken from the Banco Central de Reserva del Peru website http://www.bcrp.gob.pe/billetes-y-monedas.html and clearly show the colour of the ink changing from red to light green. In reality, however, the ink changes from a red to a very dark green or sometimes almost dark maroon depending on the light source. However the important thing to remember is the the colour of the number 20 changes in colour when looked at from the side. This applies to all denomination banknotes.
(3) Hidden Image
About a quarter of the way along the bottom of the banknote you will find a coloured rectangle as shown below.
If you look closely at the rectangle you can just make out the number 20. If you now look at the rectangle from a very acute angle (i.e rotate the note so that you are almost looking at it from edge on) the number becomes easier to make out and clearer to see (as shown in the photo below). This doesn't happen with counterfeit notes.
(4) Other security measures
Nearly all new banknotes have a metallic security strip running through the centre of the note just like the US dollar bill or British pound. However some of the older notes don't have this strip and many of the better quality counterfeit notes have one so this really this method of identification can't be relied upon.
All the new banknotes in Peru also have an iridescent band across the centre of the note as shown below. From certain angles you can see the denomination of the bill and the letters BCRP (Banco Central de Reserva del Peru). Older notes don't have this band.
I've been living in Peru for over 10 years and have never received a counterfeit Nuevo Soles banknote, or at least I wasn't aware that I had received one. Obviously with time you come to grow accustomed to the look and feel of the notes but when I receive banknotes, particularly the higher denomination bills, I always turn up the right-hand edge of the note to check that the coloured ink changes in colour. If I am slightly suspicious of a note I'll simply ask them to change the note for another one. Most Casa de Cambios (Money Exchange Houses) will be happy to do this. My advice is not to change large amounts of money at a time, in this way you will avoid receiving a large amount of high denomination bills. Its best to change one or two hundred US dollars (or equivalent) at a time and ask for smaller denomination Nuevos Soles notes such as 10's, 20's or 50's which are far easier to spend in markets and restaurants. Avoid 200 Soles notes completely. If you do want plenty of 50's and 100's ask the Casa de Cambio to stamp each note with their company seal. This is a small stamp that identifies the Casa de Cambio and may help you in the future to return the note to them if its not accepted anywhere else.
Andean Travel Web Guide to Peru. Office Address: La Casa Cultural, Avenida Pardo 540, Cusco, Peru (just 2 minutes walk from the Koricancha Inca Temple of the Sun). If you are coming to Cusco please bring a couple of second hand clothes, toys, school equipment and drop them off in our office. We will help distribute the items to people who really need them in small village schools and communities in the Andes. For more details visit our web page www.andeantravelweb.com/peru/projects A map of our office can be found by clicking here. Copyright Andean Travel Web Guide to Peru 2000-2008. All material used within this web site is original work and is subject to international copyright law. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited without prior permission from the editor. This web page was last updated in April 2008. Website designed by AndeanVisionWebDesignStudio