Are you planning on traveling to Turkey? Do you send money to a relative or friend who lives there? Either way, have you ever stopped to wonder about Turkey’s colorful currency? There are many interesting facts to be discovered about Turkey’s banknotes and coins.

The Turkish Lira is the legal tender of Turkey. The Lira is also the official currency of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cypress

Introduced in 1844 by the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey, the Turkish Lira replaced the kurus, which was the currency during the Ottoman Empire. A new Turkish Lira was introduced in early 2005 in an effort to reevaluate the value of the currency. 

Currently, there are 5-, 10-, 20-, 50-, 100-, and 200-Lira banknotes. Coins are available in 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 kurus (100 kurus make up one Lira) and 1-Lira denominations.

Interesting Facts about Turkish Money

If you’re traveling to Turkey, plan on sending money home, or just want to know more, read on.

The Lira’s symbol was the result of a contest.

As of 2012, the Turkish Lira symbol appears as this intriguing image: ₺. This was chosen as a result of a contest in which applicants had a chance to submit their entries for a new currency symbol. Tülay Lale, an engineer, submitted the winning entry. 

The symbol is meant to represent a half-anchor with two upward-facing lines to convey the appearance that the currency is in a safe harbor. The upward lines represent the rise of its status.

Turkish Lira

The same man appears on all Turkish Lira banknotes.

All of the Lira banknotes feature the image of the same man: Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Who was he, you ask? Atatürk was the founder of the modern Republic of Turkey and also its first president. He served as president from October 1923 through November 1938, and has been highly regarded as one of the greatest leaders in the 20th century. 

While his face appears on the front of each banknote, the backs contain images of different historical figures of prominence in Turkey.

The Lira comes from the Ottoman Empire.

Turkey was the seat of the Ottoman Empire from 1299 to 1922. It was then that the word “Lira” was first used in 1844. It referred to a single gold coin. At the time, kurus were also used. However, with the introduction of paper money, the Turkish Lira became the word for the banknotes, replacing the Ottoman Lira, and kurus were the cents.

You can’t use old Lira.

In some countries, old banknotes can still be used and hold the same value. This is not the case in Turkey, where a new Turkish Lira was introduced in 2005, and again in 2009. 

As a result, the 2005 series is no longer accepted as payment. It was, however, allowed to be exchanged for the new Lira, but only until 2019. So if you still have old Lira, you can keep them as a souvenir of a bygone era.

The Turkish and Italian currencies are not the same.

The Turkish Lira is often confused with the Italian Lira, Italy’s pre-euro currency. However, Lira refers to both singular and plural banknotes in Turkey, while lire is the plural form of the currency in Italy. Of course, Italy now uses the euro, so the confusion is no longer an issue. 

Just remember, when in Turkey, it is always pronounced Lira.

Turkish flag

Counterfeit Lira abound.

As reported in official sources and anecdotally, there is a lot of counterfeit Lira floating around. However, you can quickly discover if your Lira is real if you know what to look for. 

Genuine Lira banknotes are 100% cotton fiber, and when held under a UV light they will not appear fluorescent. The counterfeit Lira does fluoresce under a UV light, even when covered with a special lacquer often used by counterfeiters.

Additionally, the genuine Lira contains a watermark of Atatürk’s portrait and the denomination numeral. The watermark can be seen when the banknote is held up to the light. The fake Lira do not contain these watermarks, or they may exhibit a poor imitation.

Genuine banknotes will also feature a holographic foil strip that appears colorful and shiny when the banknote is viewed from different angles. 

Lastly, the genuine banknotes contain security fibers that fluoresce in blue and red under UV light. They contain an embedded security thread that forms a continuous line displaying the denomination numeral and the letters ”TL” when held up to the light. 

Turkish Lira Exchange Rates

As of this writing, one U.S. dollar is worth about 8.5 Lira, while one euro is valued at just over 10 TRY. While still low in value, this is a strong improvement for the Turkish Lira over recent years. 

If you’re planning on changing your money in Turkey, you can often get a better deal by simply withdrawing cash at an ATM rather than using an airport exchange counter or a bank.

For more on understanding exchange rates, take a look at our informative guide. When sending money to Turkey from abroad, check with your bank or your favorite money transfer service to find out the current exchange rates.

For instance, when you log into the Remitly app and select Turkey as your destination, you’ll quickly be able to see what competitive rates we offer for USD to Lira, GBP to Lira, and more.

And, of course, you can always do a quick Google search for “currency converter.” The results will provide you with plenty of free tools to choose from that will allow you to check today’s exchange rates. 


Sending Money to Turkey

Do you need to send money to Turkey from outside the country? 

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Visit the homepage or download our app to learn more.

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