San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Big Bills Roll Into Circulation After August

The Costa Rican monetary family is adding two new members. On Tuesday evening, Costa Rica’s Central Bank (BCCR) unveiled the new lineup of national bills, which includes denominations of ¢20,000 and ¢50,000, the two largest notes in the country’s history.

Within the next year, six new bills will go into circulation, including redesigned versions of the existing ¢1,000, ¢2,000, ¢5,000 and ¢10,000 notes, as well as the new ¢20,000 and ¢50,000 denominations.

According to Marvin Alvarado, the BCCR’s treasury director, the ¢20,000 note is the first bill slated to enter into circulation and will be distributed in August. Alvarado said the new ¢2,000 bill will be released in September, followed shortly by the ¢1,000, ¢5,000 and ¢10,000 notes. The ¢50,000 bill is expected to be released in early 2011.

Each of the new bills will have a different length, which will increase with the value of the bill. The bills will all be adorned with a unique design, including a different Costa Rican historical figure, ecosystem and color. The ¢20,000 note features a picture of María Isabel Carvajal, better known as Carmen Lyra, a renowned Costa Rican author and writer. The highland paramo ecosystem and a hummingbird are displayed on the back of the bill.

To protect against counterfeit bills, each bill will have an internal thread that runs its length, a small hologram image of Costa Rica that changes color, a watermark of the historical figure’s face, and fine background print that reads “Costa Rica” running the length of the bill.

Alvarado said the release of the larger ¢20,000 and ¢50,000 bills would help “reactivate the economy.” However, because some retailers and service providers, such as taxis and buses, rarely accept ¢10,000 bills, Alvarado said that users of the new bills should exhibit discretion.

“If I am going to the airport in a taxi, for example, I’m not going to attempt to pay he ¢100 toll with a ¢20,000 bill,” Alvarado told The Tico Times. “I would end up with more coins than I knew what to do with. People will have to learn to use the bigger bills in appropriate situations.”

–Adam Williams

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