The Pakistani rupee is a modern-day currency with a history both long and short. Short because the nation of Pakistan was only formed in 1947. And long because the rupee is a much older currency. People living in current-day Pakistan have been using a variation of the rupee for centuries.

From tourists planning a short-term trip to family members sending remittances, millions of people need to send money to Pakistan. When they do, they convert their dollars, Euros, riyals, or pounds to PKR.

In this article, we’ll cover essential facts about the Pakistani rupee—from its history to how to get the best deal on currency conversions. 

Pakistani rupee 101

pakistani rupee notes

Whether you get coins or banknotes in Pakistan, it’s all going to be rupees. Unlike many other currencies, there is no smaller currency in regular use, although they would make nice collector’s items. 

It’s also important to note that the Pakistani rupee is not interchangeable with the Indian rupee. Rupees are currently minted or printed by the central bank, the State Bank of Pakistan. 

  • Currency Code:  PKR
  • Abbreviation: Rs.
  • Coins: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50
  • Banknotes: 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000, 5000

A short history of the modern Pakistani rupee

After Partition and the end of the British Raj in 1947, Pakistan began using the Pakistani rupee. While no smaller denominations are used today, there used to be two subdivisions of the rupee: The anna and the paise. Four annas would equal one paisa, and 96 paise (the plural form of paisa) would equal one rupee.  

In 1961, the anna was discontinued, and Pakistan has not minted a single paisa since 1994. 

The design of the rupee has changed over time. Currently, each banknote has a different color and size, as well as watermarks and security threads to prevent counterfeiting. 

The currency exchange rate in Pakistan explained

You can find current exchange rates online via various free currency converter tools, or check the daily rate with your money transfer app or bank of choice. 

Until 1982, the Pakistani rupee was pegged to the British pound to manage inflation. Once it was removed from the pound, inflation sharply increased. And the Pakistani rupee was devalued.

The general financial crisis further stressed the economy in the 1980s, but depreciation continued well into 2008. Increased militancy, trade deficits, a lack of foreign investment, and economic instability continues to keep the Pakistani rupee at a low value.

pakistan scene

5 facts you might not know about Pakistan’s money

While Pakistan is still a fairly new country, the rupee has a long and colorful history in the region. The rupee blends ancient and modern civilizations in both design and function.

Below are our top interesting facts about the Pakistani rupee:

The word “rupee” comes from Sanskrit.

The modern word rupee comes from the Sanskrit rūpya, meaning “coin of silver”. 

While the modern-day rupee was not introduced until the 1500s, references to silver coins as rūpya extend as far back to the mid-300s BC!

Sher Shah Suri introduced the first coin with the name “Rupee” in the 1500s.

Before there was an India or Pakistan, before British colonialism, there was the Mughal empire. Afghani-origin king, Sher Shah Suri, whose capital city was in modern-day India, was the first ruler to introduce the rupee. And its effect has been long-lasting. 

The rupee is now the official currency of not just Pakistan and India, but also Indonesia, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Seychelles, and Sri Lanka.

The first Pakistani rupees were issued by India.

Initially, the first Pakistani rupees post-Partition were issued and printed by the Reserve Bank of India and the Government of India. These 1948 notes were then stamped or engraved with the phrase “Government of Pakistan”. 

The State Bank of Pakistan later took over the process of designing, issuing, and printing rupee banknotes.

Early versions of the Pakistani rupee included both Urdu and Bengali text.

During Partition, Pakistan was composed of West and East Pakistan. This meant that there were two major languages in the country—Urdu and Bengali. Banknotes reflected this, and each note was bilingual. 

However, once East Pakistan became a separate country in 1971, now known as Bangladesh, Bengali was removed from the notes. 

Special “Hajj notes” were printed until 1978.

In the 1950s, the number of Pakistani Muslims performing their Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia grew exponentially. 

To help make currency exchange simple, the State Bank of Pakistan issued special “Hajj notes”, which acted as travelers’ checks. These notes were in circulation until 1978 when they became popular collector items. 

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Getting the best deal for Pakistani rupees

Whether you are a tourist, on a religious pilgrimage, or there to visit family, there are a few different ways to get Pakistani rupees. And in most cases, especially outside of major cities, you will need cash for most of your purchases. So you’ll want to have a good amount on hand. 

But first, let’s cover some ground rules. 

According to the government of Pakistan, you can bring up to 10,000 USD or the equivalent in another foreign currency. USD, CAD, GBP, or Saudi Riyals: it’s all good to go. 

If you’re planning to bring in PKR, you can have up to 10,000 Rs. If you’re coming in from India, however, you can only have up to 3,000 Rs.

You may be able to get cash at the airport or order your PKR ahead of time from your local bank. If you do so, be sure to request smaller notes, such as the 20, 50, and 100 notes. Bigger notes are much harder to break. 

However, you’ll often find a better deal withdrawing money from an ATM. Visa makes it easy to find ATMs that will accept your card. Just make sure to let your bank know that you’ll be in Pakistan and that you’ll be using your card ahead of time. 

Despite their convenience, keep in mind that ATMs generally still charge a fee, and may come with a security risk. ATM fraud is possible, so you’ll want to cover your keypad when inputting your password and try to use ATMs during banking hours, preferably ones that are located in a bank or hotel. 

pakistani rupee coin

Sending money to Pakistan

If you’re planning to send money home for your loved ones, or keep your Pakistani bank account growing, converting your USD, GPB, or another foreign currency into rupees can be expensive. 

Bank wires typically charge high fees and take days to reach. Other money transfer services may have the same issue. 

The problem is that money transfer transaction fees typically grow with the amount that you send. This makes things complicated because then you have to calculate a “sweet spot.” That is to say, you have to ask yourself, “How can I send the maximum amount with the lowest fee possible?”

At Remitly, you can send $100, $1,000, or even up to $10,000 in a single transfer to Pakistan while paying the same $1.99 transfer fee when you send from the U.S. And you have more options than just sending money to a bank account. You can also pick up the money from your local bank, or have it delivered to your mobile money wallet. 

When we talk about converting currency into Pakistani rupees, we’re not just talking about numbers. It’s about how you can support yourself, your family, and your community. 

That’s why you should always be able to send as much money as possible back home—without added hassles or expenses.  

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