Banknotes of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe

Banknotes of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe

The Banknotes of Zimbabwe are currently issued by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ). It replaced the Rhodesian dollar in 1980, after the proclamation of independence within the Commonwealth of Nations, as the Republic of Zimbabwe.

Three types of Zimbabwean promissory notes are currently in circulation as of 7 August 2008: regular banknotes of the Third Zimbabwean dollar (ZB$), issued since the currency reform of 1 August 2008, and for the issues of the Second Zimbabwean Dollar (ZN$): "Bearer Cheques", introduced on 15 September 2003 and Special "Agro Cheques", shorthand for Agricultural Cheques which were introduced for use by Zimbabwean farmers on 15 May 2008. Bearer Cheques and Agro Cheques of the Second Zimbabwean Dollar (ZN$) are expected to be phased out on 31 December 2008.cite web |url= |title=Half-year Monetary Policy Statement |accessdate=2008-08-07 |author=Gono, Gideon |date=2008 30 July |format=PDF |publisher=Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe |pages=pp. 9-10] All of cheques and notes in circulation carried the signature of the current Reserve bank Governor, Dr. Gideon Gono.

Regular issues of banknotes have not been in circulation between the country's two currency reforms of 1 August 2006 and 1 August 2008, because of heavy inflation which still persists. In addition, different denominations of the Second Zimbabwean Dollar were issued to cope astronomical loss of value of the currency caused by printing of banknotes to finance government expenditure.

Two types of Zimbabwean promissory notes were issued between the two reforms: "Bearer Cheques", which were introduced on 15 September 2003, often lack sophisticated security features which are heavily employed in many modern banknotes, especially those of the Swiss Franc and the Euro. It also carries a time limit until which it is valid. On 15 May 2008, another type of emergency promissory notes, Special "Agro Cheques" (Agricultural Cheques) were issued for use by Zimbabwean farmers, although it has found its way into general use as prices continue to rise. These cheques also carry a time limit and a limited security features.


The first Banknotes of Zimbabwe were issued by the RBZ (formerly Reserve Bank of Rhodesia) in 1980 to coincide with the independence of Zimbabwe. These notes replaced the circulating banknotes of the Rhodesian Dollar. The first series of banknotes ranged from Z$2 to Z$20, and were signed by D. Crough, the last Governor of the Reserve Bank of Rhodesia.

In 1994 the RBZ issued a new series of notes ranging from Z$2 to Z$50, and the next year the first Z$100 banknote was introduced. Other denominations were re-issued with the new design in 1997 except for the Z$2 banknote, which was withdrawn and replaced by a coin in the same year. As inflation started to affect the value of the Zimbabwean Dollar the Z$500 banknote was issued in 2001, followed by the Z$1000 banknote in 2003. Both denominations are of similar design to the second regular series of Zimbabwean banknotes.

The RBZ also issued special traveller's cheques in 2003, with six denominations ranging from Z$1,000 to Z$100,000. These were short-lived due to unpopularity with the general public: identification was required both during issue and encashment of these cheques, which could only be used once by the bearer. As usual, banks levied a commission charge on all of the cheques.

On 15 September 2003, the RBZ issued special bearer cheques with denominations of Z$5,000, Z$10,000 and Z$20,000. Although these bearer cheques had a limited period of validity, the rule was not enforced, and all notes of these issues remained in circulation until the monetary reform of 1 August 2006. In January 2006 a new denomination of Z$50,000 was issued, and the Z$100,000 cheque was issued in June 2006, which by then had become worth less than the cost of a loaf of bread. In June 2006 the Reserve Bank announced that a Z$1 million bearer cheque was planned for issue in Sept 2006, but it was never issued because of the monetary reform two months later. In July 2006, the expiry date of all bearer cheques was extended to 31 December of the same year but then brought forward to 21 August 2006.cite news |url= |title=Rush to spend old Zimbabwe money |publisher=BBC News | date=2006-08-21 | accessdate = 2008-07-22 ]

In the wake of the monetary reform in the ratio of 1 new dollar (ZN$) to 1000 old dollars on 1 August 2006,cite news |url= |title=Zimbabwe money loses three zeros |publisher=BBC News | date=2006-08-02 |accessdate=2008-07-22 ] all existing banknotes were withdrawn from circulation and replaced by new-style bearer cheques of a simpler design. The first issue of the new dollars consisted of denominations from 1 cent to ZN$1000. Despite an elaborate changeover campaign under the banner 'Zero to Hero', the changeover was rapid and disorganized. There were many claims of illegal government actions and an equal number of claims of cash hoarding and parallel market activity. As a consequence many people were unable to convert their old Bearer Cheques to new issues before the deadline.

Despite the monetary reform, the root cause of the hyperinflation was not addressed so prices continued to rise as before. Further denominations ranging from ZN$5,000 to ZN$500 million were issued in the period between the first currency reform and 2008, and cent cheques quickly became worthless. In May 2008, special "Agro Cheques" with parallel functions to a Bearer Cheque were issued in denominations ZN$5 billion, ZN$25 billion and ZN$50 billion as the currency exchange rate was floated, with the ZN$100 billion cheque following on 21 July 2008.

On 1 July 2008, Munich-based security printers Giesecke & Devrient ceased providing banknote paper to the Reserve Bank in response to an official request from the German government, and widespread calls for sanctions.] cite news |url=,0,3947241.story |title=Lack of bank note paper threatens Zimbabwe economy |publisher=Los Angeles Times | date=2008-07-14 | accessdate = 2008-07-21 ] The Jura JSP software End-user licence, which the state-owned Fidelity Printers & Refiners hold for the design of Zimbabwe's banknotes, may also be revoked for the same reason.


The second currency reform commenced on 1 August 2008,cite news
title= Zimbabwe introduces new currency
publisher=BBC News
accessdate = 2008-07-30
] cite web
title=Statement by Gideon Gono, Governor
author=Gono, Gideon
publisher=Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
accessdate = 2008-07-21 |format=PDF
] when the Third Zimbabwean Dollar (ZB$) replaced the Second Zimbabwean Dollar (ZN$) at the ratio of 10 billion to 1. By taking into account of the currency reform, and for the first time since 2003, a new series of both coins and banknotes denominated from ZB$1 to ZB$500 were issued, replacing the 2006-2008 bearer cheque series.cite news |url= |title= Zimbabwe rolls out new bank notes |publisher=BBC News |date=2008-08-02 |accessdate = 2008-08-02 ] Despite the reform, heavy inflation is evident once again, as Black Market exchange rates continue to rise further than the official exchange rate of ZB$169.57 per pound sterling as of 19 September 2008, opposed to ZB$15.02 on 1 August.cite web |url= |title=Daily Interbank Exchange Rates |publisher=Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe |date=2007-09-19 |accessdate = 2008-09-19]

Three additional denominations have been put to circulation since the reform: the ZB$1,000 banknote was introduced on 17 September 2008,cite news |url= |title=Zimbabwe issues new 1,000 dollar note |publisher=IC Publications | date=2008-09-10 | accessdate = 2008-09-18 ] followed by the ZB$10,000 and ZB$20,000 denominations on 29 September 2008.cite news |url= |title=Zimbabweans get two bigger banknotes as economic collapse deepens |publisher=Monsters and Critics | date=2008-09-29 | accessdate = 2008-09-29 ]

Had the expiry dates of Bearer Cheques been enforced then the ZN$100 million denomination would have been the lowest legal tender Bearer Cheque in circulation as of 31 July 2008, with the ZN$500 million being the highest denomination among the Bearer Cheques. The lowest denomination for the Agro Cheque was ZN$5 billion while the ZN$100 billion cheque was the highest.cite news |url= |title=Zimbabwe introduces Z$100bn note |publisher=BBC News | date=2008-07-21 | accessdate = 2008-07-21 ] All Bearer and Agro cheques still in circulation but are expected to be demonetized on 31 January 2009.

Banknotes of the Zimbabwean Dollar (Z$)

eries 1980 and 1982

:"Information about Replacement notes can be found here."

The first series of banknotes for Zimbabwe carry the signature of Dr. D.C. Crough, the last governor of the Reserve Bank of Rhodesia. They are dated 1980 but issued in 1981 (except for the Z$20 note, which was issued in 1982). The notes bear Salisbury as the name of its capital rather than Harare, as the name only changed on 18 April 1982. There are four denominations in this series ranging from Z$2 to Z$20, and its designs make extensive use of the Guilloché technique.

eries 1994 and 1995

Two new denominations, the Z$50 and Z$100 banknotes, were issued in the period between 1994 and 1995 because of the effects on inflation, which peaked at 48% in 1991. Although the Chiremba balancing rock remains the main feature on the obverse, the design was changed, with the addition of identification marks for the visually impaired.

eries 2001 and 2003

Replacement Banknotes

Replacement banknotes for the regular 1980, 1982, 1983 and 1994 series bear serial numbers with the prefix AW for the Z$2 note, BW for Z$5, CW for Z$10 and DW for Z$20.

Serial numbers of replacement Z$50 banknotes of 1994 began with AE, whilst the replacement notes of the 1997, 1995, 2001 and 2003 series had serial numbers beginning with AB (Z$5), AC (Z$10), AD (Z$20), AF (Z$100), AP or TA (Z$500) and AW (Z$1,000).

Bearer Cheques of the Zimbabwean Dollar (Z$)

Bearer Cheques of the New Zimbabwean Dollar (ZN$)

The Zimbabwean dollar was reformed on 1 August 2006 in the ratio of 1000:1 under a currency reform campaign codenamed "Operation Sunrise" and the slogan "Zero to Hero". New-style bearer cheques were issued in response to the event.

The change over process, given at short notice, was rapid because all issues prior to the August 2006 series were to be demonetized and rendered worthless on 21 August 2006. Poor communications meant that many civilians of Zimbabwe were unable to convert old Bearer Cheques to new ones before the deadline.

2006 Monetary Reform Issue

On 1 August 2006, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe released bearer cheques into circulation, taking into account of the 2006 currency reform. There are 14 denominations ranging from 1¢ to ZN$100,000. These Bearer Cheques, signed solely by Dr. Gideon Gono expired on 31 July 2007, except for the ZN$100 and ZN$500 cheques which were initially due to expire on 31 December 2007, but the deadline was put off until 31 July 2008.Citation
journal =Zimbabwean Government Gazette | volume=Vol. 85 | pages=page 1183 | date=2007-12-19 | url=
] The ZN$5 denomination was also issued, despite not being widely publicised in the changeover campaign. [Wayback |url= |title=New Bearer Cheques Family (2006) |date=20070626193831 ]

Two variations were issued for the ZN$10,000 and ZN$100,000 Bearer Cheques. The difference between two versions of the denominations is the use of digit grouping. Cheques with the denomination expressed as '10000' or '100000' bear serial numbers with the prefix AA, while prefix AB and onwards is used for expressions '10 000' and '100 000'.

December 2007 issue

The ZN$250,000 ZN$500,000 ZN$750,000 denominations were introduced together on 20 December 2007. [cite press release | title =Introducing the new $250,000, $500,000 and $750,000 Bearer Cheques | publisher =Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe | date =2008-12-18 | url = | accessdate =2008-10-11 ] The ZN$750,000 denomination of the December 2007 series was the only issue out of all other Bearer and Cheques of the second Zimbabwean dollar to carry a holographic strip.

May 2008 issue

2008 Series

The 2008-dated series were first issued on 29 September 2008, and currently consists of two denominations: ZB$10,000 and Z$20,000. The Chiremba balancing rock remains a main feature on the obverse.

The ZB$10,000 denomination is printed using banknote paper for the ZB$1,000 denomination of the 2007 series. Although the intaglio method of printing was not used, the banknotes had a windowed holographic security thread. However, the ZB$20,000 denomination is printed on plain paper as a consequence of the termination of contract by Giesecke & Devrient.

A new banknote with the face value of ZB$50,000 is expected to be issued by mid-October.cite news |url= |title=50,000-dollar banknote for inflation-wracked Zimbabwe |publisher=IC Publications | date=2006-10-11 | accessdate = 2008-10-11 ]

RBZ traveller's cheques 2003

Zimbabwe's central bank, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), followed a few months later with a series of traveler's cheques in the following denominations: Z$1,000; Z$5,000; Z$10,000; Z$20,000; Z$50,000 and Z$100,000. These proved unpopular with the general public due to the need to produce ID both during issue and encashment of these, and also because of the obvious limited single usage. Commercial banks levied a commission on all traveller's cheques, including the ones issued by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. These are quite difficult to find.

Example of RBZ Traveller's Cheque Design:

Other bearer cheques

Other companies issued bearer cheques in rural districts of Zimbabwe. (These are not regarded as authorised issues by the RBZ.)

Bearer Cheques of the New Zimbabwean Dollar (ZN$) (Old Version)

econd issues of L.L. Tsumba (1994-2003)

The beginning of Zimbabwe's economic turmoil is indicated through these issues of banknotes.

P5a. 1997 5 dollars.

P5b. 1997 5 dollars.

P6. 1997 10 dollars.

P7. 1997 20 dollars.

P8. 1994 50 dollars.

P9. 1995 100 dollars.

P10. 2001 500 dollars.

P11. 2001 500 dollars. (Issued 2003)

P12a. 2003 1,000 dollars.

P12b. 2003 1,000 dollars.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Traveller's Cheques (2003)

These were issued as a form of emergency banknotes, but, due to banks imposing commission charges on these, they were withdrawn after a short period. Extant examples are actually quite difficult to find. These bear the title of 'Acting Governor'.

(2003) 5,000 dollars.

(2003) 10,000 dollars.

(2003) 20,000 dollars.

Bearer Cheques, first and second issue (15 September 2003)

1) To be paid on demand on or before 31 January 2004.

This first issue of bearer cheques was issued to replace the extremely unpopular traveller's cheques. These bear the title 'Acting Governor'. This first issue is VERY rare.

2003 5,000 dollars.

2003 10,000 dollars.

2003 20,000 dollars.

2) To be paid on demand on or before 30 June 2004.

While the first issue was valid for only four and a half month, the second issue, issued on the same day, was valid for nine and a half months.

2003 5,000 dollars.

2003 10,000 dollars.

2003 20,000 dollars.

Bearer Cheques, third issue (1 December 2003) (G. Gono)

To be paid on demand on or before 31 December 2004.

These were the first banknotes to have been issued bearing the signature of G. Gono, who is the fifth Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

2003 5,000 dollars.

2003 10,000 dollars.

2003 20,000 dollars.

Bearer Cheques, fourth issue (1 December 2003)

To be paid on demand on or before 31 December 2005.

This issue of bearer cheques is of historic significance, as it was the final issue before Robert Mugabe issued his decree on 7 December 2003, in which he announced that he was pulling Zimbabwe out of the Commonwealth of Nations.

2003 5,000 dollars.

2003 10,000 dollars.

2003 20,000 dollars.

Banknote issue (2004)

This note is the only banknote, as opposed to a bearer cheque, that has been issued since Zimbabwe was pulled out of the Commonwealth.

2004 500 dollars.

Bearer Cheques, fifth issue (2006)

Pay the bearer on demand on or before 31 December 2006.

Due to the continuing hyperinflation, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe was forced to issue two new denominations of bearer cheques.

2006 50,000 dollars. (1 February 2006)

2006 100,000 dollars. (1 June 2006)

See also

*Banknotes of the Cargill Cotton Group (Zimbabwe)
*Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
*Least valued currency unit
*Zimbabwean dollar
*Hyperinflation in Zimbabwe
*Economy of Zimbabwe


* [ Banknotes of Zimbabwe]
* [ Zimbabwe introduces $50,000 bill]
* [ Zimbabwe introduces $100,000 note]
* [ Zimbabwe issues $10,000,000 bill]
* [ Reserve Bank introduces New Z$50,000,000 note]
* [ Zimbabwe introduces 250,000,000 dollar note]
* [ Zimbabwe introduces $500,000,000 bill]
* [ Zimbabwe introduces $100,000,000,000 note]


* Cite book
last = Cuhaj
first = George S.
title= Standard Catalog of World Paper Money ( Vol. 3, Modern issues: 1961-present)
edition= 13th edition
publisher= Krause Publications
year = 2007
month= May
isbn = 978-0896895027

* Cite book
last = Cuhaj
first = George S.
title= Standard Catalog of World Paper Money ( Vol. 3, Modern issues: 1961-present)
edition= 14th edition
publisher= Krause Publications
year = 2008
month= June
isbn = 0896896323

External links

* [ Gallery of Zimbabwe banknotes (]
* [ Banknote News]
* [ Ron Wise's Banknoteworld page containing scanned Zimbabwean banknotes]
* [ Tom Chao's coverage on Zimbabwe's hyper-inflationary banknotes]

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