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Frequently Asked Questions about the Euro

by Edward Hasbrouck, author of “The Practical Nomad”

December 2001

What’s the Euro?

The Euro is the new pan-European currency that is replacing the national currencies of most (but not all) countries in Western Europe.

I don’t live in Europe. Do I need to worry about the Euro?

Yes, if either:
  • You will be traveling in any of the Euro countries in 2002 or after, or
  • You have coins, bills (notes), or travellers checks denominated in the national currencies of any of the countries that are converting to the Euro.

What countries are replacing their currencies with the Euro?

Twelve countries have adopted the Euro, as of 1 January 2002:
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Luxembourg
  • The Netherlands
  • Portugal
  • Spain

Some of the Western European countries that are not converting to the Euro, at least initially, include:

  • The United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland)
  • Switzerland
  • Sweden
  • Norway
  • Denmark

(These and/or other countries may join the Euro zone in the future.)

Should I be concerned about “Euro day”, 1 January 2002?

Not really. All existing European currencies will remain valid and usable for all purposes through at least 27 January 2002.

What are the important dates for people with old European coins and/or bills (notes)?

The important dates are the ending dates of the “dual circulation” of Euros and the old national currencies. These last dates that all businesses in Euro countries are required to accept the old national currencies vary by country, as follows:
  • 27 January 2002: The Netherlands
  • 9 February 2002: Ireland
  • 17 February 2002: France
  • 28 February 2002: all other Euro countries

What should I do with my old European coins and/or bills (notes)?

You should either:
  • Spend your old national currency before the end of the dual-circulation period, or
  • Convert it to Euros at the first possible opportunity.

What happens after the dual-circulation period?

After the dual-circulation period, businesses are not required to accept the old national currency. They might accept it, but they don’t have do. You might have to take your coins or bills (notes) to a bank and exchange them for Euros before you can spend them.

I won’t be in Europe until after January 2002. Will I be able to exchange my old European money for Euros after the dual-circulation period?

Yes, but as time passes it will get to be more and more of a nuisance. At first, all banks are required to exchange “household amounts” of national currencies for Euros at no charge. By the end of 2002, you will only be able to exchange old currency for Euros at the national bank of the particular country whose coins or bills (notes) you have. Coins in the old national currencies will be phased out more quickly, and will be more difficult to exchange, than paper money. The exact schedules vary by country, and some of them have not yet been determined. But the sooner you exchange the money you have now for Euros, the easier it will be.

Is there any reason to keep any coins or bills in the old currencies after 1 January 2002?

Yes, but only as souvenirs or collectibles.

What should I do if I have travellers’ checks denominated in European national currencies like French Francs or German Marks that are being replaced by the Euro?

As with cash in the old currencies, you should either spend your travellers checks before the end of the dual-circulation period, or convert them to Euros at the first opportunity. After 1 January 2002, if you cash a travellers check denominated in any of the old European national currencies you will get your cash or change in Euro bills (notes) and/or coins, not national currency.

How is the Euro abbreviated, written, and symbolized?

There’s a new Euro symbol, but many printers, cash registers, etc. can’t print it. So the official abbreviation for the Euro in all languages is “EUR”. The official, ungrammatical rule is that the plural of Euro in English is “Euro” (not “Euros”), but many English speakers use “Euros”.

How much is the Euro worth?

The Euro floats against the U.S. dollar and other currencies. As of 20 December 2001, 1 Euro (EUR1.00) is equivalent to US$0.90. One U.S. dollar (USD1.00) is equivalent to EUR1.11 (1 Euro and 11 Euro cents).

Will prices in Euro countries be posted in Euros or in the national currency?

During the dual-circulation period, prices can be posted in both currencies, or in Euros only. After the dual-circulation period, prices will be posted in Euros only.

Will the conversion to the Euro mean that prices will change, or that prices in some countries will get more or less expensive relative to others?

Prices shouldn’t change, although some businesses may try to hide price increases in the conversion to the Euro. The value of each of the national currencies has been fixed with respect to each other, and with respect to the Euro, since 1 January 1999 (except for Greece, which fixed its currency to the Euro as of 1 January 2001). So the new prices in Euros should be the equivalent of the old prices in national currencies.

Where can I get more information about the Euro conversion?

Here are some Web sites about the Euro conversion:
This article was publisehd shortly before the euro was first introduced in 2002. For an update, see 10 years of euros (March 2012).

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