Brazilian cruzeiro

The cruzeiro (Portuguese pronunciation: [kɾuˈzejɾu]) was the currency of Brazil from 1942 to 1986 (two distinct currencies) and again between 1990 and 1993. In 1994 it was replaced with the real. The name refers to the constellation of the Southern Cross, known in Brazil as Cruzeiro do Sul, or simply Cruzeiro.[1] Visible only in the Southern Hemisphere, the Southern Cross is the main astronomical reference to identify the south and is a common cultural icon in Brazilian history.[2]

Brazilian cruzeiro
cruzeiro  (Portuguese)
ISO 4217
Central bankCentral Bank of Brazil
PrinterCasa da Moeda do Brasil
MintCasa da Moeda do Brasil
This infobox shows the latest status before this currency was rendered obsolete.

The first cruzeiro circulated between 1942 and 1967 and had the symbol Cr$ or ₢ (in Unicode U+20A2 CRUZEIRO SIGN (HTML ₢)). The ₢ sign was the only monetary symbol created specifically for Brazilian currencies: All the others used combinations of uppercase letters (in some cases, uppercase and lowercase) and the cifrão ($), including the current Brazilian real, which uses R$.

Due to economic crisis and severe inflation, a second cruzeiro was issued in 1967 and circulated until 1986. Initially (until 1970) it had the symbol NCr and was named cruzeiro novo (Portuguese for "new cruzeiro"). The name then reverted to cruzeiro and the symbol changed to Cr$ (1970–1986) with the ISO 4217 code BRB. Although the name was restored, the ₢ sign was dropped due to the lack of practical support (rare typewriters offered it, but it was also difficult to find in metal types).

Again after severe economic crisis and repeated currency changes, a third cruzeiro was created in 1990. It reissued the symbol Cr$ and had the ISO 4217 code BRE. All three cruzeiros were subdivided into 100 centavos.

The ₢ sign is still available on the standard Brazilian keyboard layout (ABNT2 keyboard) through the combination AltGr+C but the sign is disused and most people are unaware of it.

First Cruzeiro (Cruzeiro "antigo"), 1942–1967

The first cruzeiro was issued from 1942 to 1967, replacing the real at a rate of 1000 réis = 1 cruzeiro and was replaced in 1967 by the cruzeiro novo at a rate of 1000 cruzeiros = 1 cruzeiro novo. In practice, the name cruzeiro had been used for the 1000 réis unit since at least 1926, when Brazilian economist Carlos Inglês de Sousa (1882–1948) first suggested it to the government.


In 1942, coins were introduced in denominations of 10, 20 and 50 centavos, and 1, 2 and 5 cruzeiros. The centavos were initially struck in cupro-nickel, switching to aluminium-bronze in 1943, whilst the cruzeiros were struck in aluminium-bronze from the start. The 5 cruzeiros was not struck after 1943. Aluminium replaced aluminium-bronze in 1956 and 1957 in all the coins. Coinage stopped production in 1961, restarting in 1965 with aluminium 10 and 20 cruzeiros, and cupro-nickel 50 cruzeiros. In 1964, the "centavo" coins were withdrawn, and the other coins were withdrawn between 1967 and 1968.


The first banknotes were overprints on earlier mil réis notes, with denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 cruzeiros. Regular issues of banknotes began in 1943 with the addition of 1000 cruzeiro notes. 1 and 2 cruzeiro notes were introduced in 1944, followed by 5000 cruzeiros in 1963 and 10,000 cruzeiros in 1966. The 1 and 2 cruzeiros were not produced after 1958.

Brazilian cruzeiro
Preceded by:
Ratio: 1 cruzeiro = 1 mil réis = 1000 réis
Currency of Brazil
1 November 1942 12 February 1967
Succeeded by:
Cruzeiro novo
Reason: inflation
Ratio: 1 cruzeiro novo = 1000 cruzeiros

Second Cruzeiro (Cruzeiro Novo), 1970–1986

In 1967, Brazil introduced the cruzeiro novo (the word "novo", "new" in Portuguese, only appearing on the provisional issue of banknotes), with 1 cruzeiro novo equal to 1000 "old" cruzeiros. It had the ISO 4217 code BRB. In 1986, the country switched to the cruzado, worth 1000 cruzeiros (novos). In 1979, following the Second Oil Crisis, the government decided to devalue the cruzeiro, a policy known as "maxidesvalorização". The cruzeiro lost 30% of its value.[3]


Coins were introduced in 1967 in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 centavos, followed by 1 cruzeiro in 1970. The 1, 2 and 5 centavos were struck in stainless steel, with the higher denominations struck in cupro-nickel or nickel, replaced by stainless steel in 1974 and 1975 except for the 1 cruzeiro. Between 1979 and 1981, stainless-steel 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cruzeiros were introduced, followed by smaller, stainless-steel 100, 200 and 500 cruzeiros in 1985.


In 1967, provisional issues were made consisting of "old" cruzeiro notes which were overstamped with the values 1, 5, 10 and 50 centavos, and 1, 5 and 10 cruzeiros novos. These notes were withdrawn between 1972 and 1975. In 1970, regular issues of notes were introduced in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 cruzeiros. 500 cruzeiro notes were introduced in 1972, followed by 1000 cruzeiros in 1978. In 1981, a new series of banknotes was issued in values of 100, 200, 500, 1000 and 5000 cruzeiros. Banknotes up to 50 cruzeiros of the previous series were replaced by coins by 1984 and 10,000 and 50,000 cruzeiro banknotes were introduced, followed by 100,000 cruzeiros in 1985, by which time notes up to 500 cruzeiros had been replaced by coins.

Official exchange rates (end of period)
Cruzeiros per U.S. dollar
1986 (Feb)12,985

Source: BCB[4]

Brazilian cruzeiro (novo)
Preceded by:
Reason: inflation
Ratio: 1 cruzeiro novo = 1000 cruzeiros
Currency of Brazil
13 February 1967 27 February 1986
Note: known as the cruzeiro novo until 15 May 1970
Succeeded by:
Reason: inflation
Ratio: 1 cruzado = 1000 cruzeiros

Third Cruzeiro, 1990–1993

In 1990, Brazil switched back to using the name cruzeiro for its currency. The cruzeiro replaced the cruzado novo at par. It had the ISO 4217 code BRE. This third cruzeiro was used until 1993, when it was replaced by the cruzeiro real at a rate of 1 cruzeiro real = 1000 cruzeiros.


The 1, 5, 10 and 50 centavo coins issued in 1989 for use with the previous currency continued in use after the introduction of the cruzeiro. In 1990, stainless-steel 1, 5, 10 and 50 cruzeiro coins were introduced, followed by smaller 100, 500, 1000 and 5000 cruzeiros in 1992.


The first banknotes were overprints on cruzado novo notes, in denominations of 50, 100, 200 and 500 cruzeiros. In 1990, regular notes in values of 100, 200, 500, 1000 and 5000 cruzeiros were introduced, followed by 10,000 and 50,000 cruzeiros in 1991, 100,000 cruzeiros in 1992 and 500,000 cruzeiros in 1993. In 1992, the 50 and 100 cruzeiro banknotes were withdrawn and the higher denominations were withdrawn in 1994.

Brazilian cruzeiro
Preceded by:
Cruzado novo
Reason: currency renaming
Ratio: at par
Currency of Brazil
16 March 1990 31 July 1993
Succeeded by:
Cruzeiro real
Reason: inflation
Ratio: 1 cruzeiro real = 1000 cruzeiros


  1. Faber, M., "História do Dinheiro no Brasil" (in Portuguese)
  2. Southern Cross is used in a number of Brazilian states' flags, was part of companies' logotypes (like former Sudameris bank or flight company Cruzeiro do Sul) and also gave the name of Cruzeiro Esporte Clube, one of the main Brazilian soccer teams.
  3. MACARINI, José Pedro.Crise e Política Econômica: o Governo Figueiredo (1979-1984). Texto para Discussão. IE/UNICAMP,n. 144, junho 2008
  • Krause, Chester L.; Clifford Mishler (1991). Standard Catalog of World Coins: 1801–1991 (18th ed.). Krause Publications. ISBN 0873411501.
  • Pick, Albert (1994). Standard Catalog of World Paper Money: General Issues. Colin R. Bruce II and Neil Shafer (editors) (7th ed.). Krause Publications. ISBN 0-87341-207-9.
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