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Press Releases

Launch of currency in euro

The launch of euro notes and coins will take place in two months' time, on 1 January 2002. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) takes this opportunity to remind the general public of the transitional arrangements for the currencies of the twelve euro area countries* to the single euro.

In the euro area countries, immediate steps will be taken from 1 January to withdraw the old national currencies ("legacy currencies") from circulation, and soon thereafter they will no longer be accepted as payment. It is also likely that they will rapidly cease to be accepted anywhere else in the world.

In Hong Kong, from 1 January, members of the public requiring currency for travel to the euro area should be able to obtain euro banknotes from banks in the same manner as for other foreign currencies. However, the new currency will in no circumstances be available before 1 January.

Members of the public should refer to their banks, or to money changers, regarding the precise arrangements and costs which may be involved in any exchange transactions in the legacy currencies or the euro. In general, however-

  • People who are in possession of banknotes of the twelve legacy currencies, and businesses which may from time to time accept payment in these currencies, are strongly advised to consider exchanging their holdings for Hong Kong dollars (or for any other non-legacy currency), or paying them into a bank account, at the earliest opportunity. They are also advised to avoid any unnecessary further acquisition of the legacy currencies.
  • Although banks may continue to be willing to exchange notes of the legacy currencies for a limited period into the new year, the rates for such exchanges, or the fees charged, may be expected to reflect the additional costs of eventually returning the notes to Europe in order to obtain value.
  • Travellers to euro area countries should from now on consider exchanging any surplus holdings of legacy currencies while in Europe, before departing from there on their return journeys.
  • In line with common practice for most foreign currencies, it is not expected that banks will exchange coins of the legacy currencies, or that they will stock euro-denominated coins.

Members of the public who expect to handle euro banknotes are advised to take note of the information which is being publicised by the euro area authorities at the special website of the European Central Bank (www.euro.ecb.int) to aid recognition of the notes, including the security features.

"The existence of just one currency in place of twelve will certainly make life easier for all who travel to the euro area," said Joseph Yam, Chief Executive of the HKMA. "Although the HKMA has no formal role in the issuance of euro currency, we support the efforts of the European Central Bank and the financial community in Hong Kong to ensure a smooth transition," he added.

* The twelve euro countries are: Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.

For further enquiries, please contact:

Jasmin Fung, Manager (Press), at 28788246 or
Thomas Chan, Senior Manager (Press), at 28781480

 

Hong Kong Monetary Authority
1 November 2001

Last revision date: 1 August 2011
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