Cayman Currency

The subject is, frankly, fascinating, since entire economies and individual livelihoods rise and fall based on local currencies. Who created the coins and banknotes; how were they designed; how is their value determined; and what does a currency tell us about local culture and politics? Discover a little background on the Cayman Islands

Banknote denominations

The first local currency was issued in 1971. Banknotes at that time had only four denominations: $25, $10, $5 and $1. In 1981, two new denominations were issued: $100 and $40. The $50 note was issued in 1985 and since then the $40 bill has been withdrawn.

Coinage denomination

The Cayman Islands dollar is divisible by 100 cents and has four denominations: 25 cents, 10 cents, 5 cents and 1 cent. Unlike U.S. coins, they decrease in size according to value. The 5 cent piece is called just that - it is not referred to as a nickel.

Value against the US$ and UK £

The Currency Law of 1974 pegged the CI dollar at 20 percent higher than the US dollar: CI$1=US$1.20 and US$1=CI$0.80. The CI dollar is 19% lower than Sterling. Commercially, a .82 exchange rate is used for salary payments and business transactions.

Locally interchangeable

The US dollar circulates freely alongside the CI$, but store clerks will not make change in US currency. Likewise, local checking accounts can be opened in US$ or CI$. British sterling does not circulate; it must be exchanged for the local currency. Canadian dollars and Euros can also be exchanged.

Banknote features

Each banknote measures 156mm x 66 mm. On the obverse side are a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and the Cayman Islands Coat of Arms. All notes have a security thread, a watermark image of a turtle and serial numbers. The $1 note is blue; the $5 note, green; the $10 note, pink; the $25 note, brown; the $50 note, blue; and the $100 note, orange.

Coin features

All coins bear a portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II. The 25-cent coin has a picture of a two-masted Cayman schooner. The 10-cent coin features a hawksbill turtle. The 5-cent coin has a picture of a crayfish. The 1-cent coin features a thrush bird on a tree branch.

Where are coins minted?

The first circulating coins, in 1971, were minted by Britain’s Royal Mint. Between 1977 and 1984, the coins were minted in the USA by the Franklin Mint. Since 1986, they are again minted by the Royal Mint. The 1c coins are struck in copper and the other coins are struck in nickel plated steel.

Where are the notes printed?

Cayman banknotes are printed in the UK by Thomas De La Rue and Company Limited, the world's largest commercial currency printer and papermaker. De La Rue is involved in the production of more than 150 currencies including those of Venezuela, Scotland and Bermuda. The Cayman dollar is the highest valued dollar unit in the world.

Previous currency?

Prior to 1971, Cayman was part of Jamaica and used its national currency. In September 1970, the UK approved the issue of a new and independent currency for the Cayman Islands. A Currency Committee took responsibility for introducing the new currency. The paper currency was named the dollar for its relative value to the US dollar.

One startling fact

As of September 2010, $9 million was circulating in coins. Of that, $805,274 was in 1-cent coins.