Whether you’re traveling to Haiti or need to send money home, this guide offers the information you need to know about the Haitian gourde. If you need to send money to Haiti, we’ve got you covered there, too.
The Haitian gourde is the official currency of Haiti, a French-speaking Caribbean country. The currency code for the gourde is HTG and the major issuing bank is the Bank of the Republic of Haiti, which replaced the National Bank in 1979.
The gourde is divided into subunits called centimes, which are 1/100th of a gourde. It comes in bills of 10, 25, 50, 100, 250, 500, and 1,000 gourdes. Coins come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, and 50 centimes, as well as 1- and 5-gourde coins. Haiti is the only country that uses this currency.
Demand for the currency is low outside of the Republic of Haiti, as the country is financially small and not a large exporter. A large portion of the population relies on subsistence farming to survive. About 20% of the country’s annual budget is from foreign aid.
Fascinating Facts about the Haitian Gourde
The gourde is a historically important currency infused with cultural pride for Haitians, no matter its current value. Read on to learn more.
1. It got its name from an old Spanish currency.
The name “gourde” is French, but it is based on an old Spanish currency called gordos.
The name evolved into the current spelling to reflect the French language, which is the official language of Haiti. Many Creole speakers call gourdes “goud,” rhyming with the English word “mood.”
The symbol G represents the currency of the Haitian gourde.
2. The Haitian gourde first circulated in 1813.
The Haitian gourde first circulated as a currency specific to Haiti in 1813. Before its introduction, the country used the colonial livre.
The livre was pegged to the French livre at par, or one colonial livre to one French livre. The livre divided into 20 sous, and 15 sous equaled one Spanish colonial real. So, essentially, the colonial livre was pegged to both French and Spanish currencies.
Introducing the gourde in 1813 was one of the first steps in acknowledging the greater independence of Haiti. The gourde replaced the livre at a rate of eight livres and five sous for every one gourde.
The exchange rate complicated currency conversions and during the first and second issues of the gourde, it fluctuated with pegged currencies.
The franc soon rose to become the major currency in France, and in 1881, the gourde pegged to the franc at a rate of five French francs to one gourde. This was before the use of euros across the EU.
3. The gourde is now on its third issue.
The issuance of the third gourde happened in 1872, and it’s still in use today.
Once again, the revaluation of the gourde caused the new currency issuing. The third gourde exchanged at a rate of 300 second-issue notes to one third-issue note. Pegging for the third gourde was to the French franc and later to the USD.
In the early years of the third gourde, only banknotes were being issued, and the name “piastre” was sometimes used instead of gourde.
4. Five gourdes is also called a Haitian dollar.
In 1912, the gourde was pegged to the U.S. dollar at a rate of five gourdes to one USD. This led to calling five gourdes a Haitian dollar, and five centimes a Haitian penny.
The gourde was unpegged from the USD in 1989 and is now a free-floating currency. Still, in many places, prices are given not in gourdes, but rather in Haitian dollars, which must be multiplied by five to convert to gourdes.
For example, if you exit a local bus (or tap-tap, as they’re known), and the driver demands “two dollars,” this likely means two Haitian dollars, which is ten gourdes.
If a Haitian is referring to USD, they will probably say “American dollars.”
5. The gourde is one of few currencies to feature a woman on a banknote.
The Haitian gourde banknotes are colorful and depict stories of important Haitian figures who helped to shape the country. On the back of each of the banknotes is the Haitian coat of arms. The only exception is the 1,000-gourde note, which depicts the Marche Valliere, a famous Haitian market, on the back.
The 10-gourde banknote bears the image of Catherine Flon, a symbol of the Haitian revolution. She is credited with sewing the first Haitian flag in 1803.
6. Some gourde notes were released to mark important milestones.
It wasn’t until 1999 that 1,000-gourde notes were introduced. The note commemorated the 250th anniversary of the founding of Port-au-Prince.
A 20-gourde note was released into circulation in 2001, both as a commemorative to celebrate the bicentennial of the Constitution of Toussaint L’Ouverture and as a regular issue.
In 2004, the Banque de la Republique d’Haiti issued a series of notes to commemorate the bicentennial.
7. The U.S. Dollar is the second-most commonly accepted currency in Haiti.
The vast majority of businesses and individuals selling something in Haiti will accept United States dollars.
Vendors may prefer gourdes in places like outdoor markets, but will most likely accept USD as well.
Understanding Haitian Gourde Exchange Rates
A variety of factors affect the exchange rate of the gourde. First and foremost is the stability of the Haitian economy, which can shrink or grow at different points throughout the year. Manufacturing is one area that often suffers from fluctuations, while weather conditions can have an enormous impact on agricultural output.
Other unpredictable events, like political uprisings and national disasters, can adversely affect the gourde exchange rate. Additionally, Central Bank interventions can cause a rapid appreciation of the gourde. To find out more about the Haitian gourde’s current rates, a quick online search will help.
Sending Money to Haiti
There are a variety of reasons you might need to send money to Haiti.
Luckily, Remitly makes international money transfers faster, easier, more transparent, and more affordable. Our reliable and easy-to-use mobile app is trusted by over 5 million people around the world.