Cuban peso

The peso (ISO 4217 code: CUP, sometimes called the "national currency" or in Spanish moneda nacional) is one of two official currencies in use in Cuba, the other being the convertible peso (ISO 4217 code: CUC, often called "dollar" in the spoken language). There are currently 25 CUP per CUC.

Cuban peso
peso cubano  (Spanish)
A 3 peso banknote depicting Che Guevara
ISO 4217
Symbol$, $MN, or ₱
centavo¢ or c
Freq. used$1, $3, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $200, $500[1][2]
Rarely used$1,000
Freq. used20¢, $1, $3, $5
Rarely used1¢, 2¢, 5¢
User(s) Cuba
Central bankCentral Bank of Cuba

Most Cuban state workers receive their wages in national pesos, but some receive a portion of their salary in convertible pesos. Shops that sell basic necessities such as groceries often accept only national pesos whereas convertible pesos are much more commonplace in "dollar shops" which sell mostly imported commodities and goods. The word "peso" may refer to either currency.

Cuban convertible pesos are 25 times more valuable per face value. The convertible (CUC) pesos are distinguishable from the national (CUP) ones, as CUC coins have an octagonal shape within the outer round rim. The only exception to this is the most common CUP coin, the 1 peso,[3] also has this octagonal shape; while CUC currency shows monuments, and CUP bills have portraits.


Before 1857, Spanish and Spanish colonial reales circulated in Cuba. From 1857, banknotes were issued specifically for use on Cuba. These were denominated in pesos, with each peso worth 8 reales. From 1869, decimal notes were also issued denominated in centavos, with 100 centavos for each peso. In 1881, the peso was pegged to the US dollar at par. The currency continued to be issued only in paper form until 1915, when the first coins were issued.

In 1960, the peg to the US dollar was replaced by one to the Soviet ruble (at that time 1 US dollar was worth exactly 4 Soviet rubles). The peso lost value because of the United States embargo against Cuba and the suspension of the sugar quota. The suspension was the main economic force driving Cuba to seek out a new economic partner, the Soviet Union. When the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, the peso lost much of its value with the exchange rate falling to 125 pesos to the US dollar. Recently, it has become more valuable and fluctuated between 23 and 25 pesos to the US dollar.

In 1993, during the period of economic austerity known as the Special Period, the US dollar was made legal tender to encourage hard currency to enter the economy. The US dollar was the currency used to purchase some non-essential goods and services, such as cosmetics, and even staple kinds of food and drink. In 1994, the convertible peso was introduced at a par with the US dollar. On November 8, 2004, the Cuban government withdrew US dollars from circulation, citing the need to retaliate against further US sanctions.


In 1897 and 1898, pesos were issued by revolutionary forces promoting independence.[5] In 1915, cupro-nickel 1, 2 and 5 centavos, silver 10, 20 and 40 centavos and 1 peso, and gold 1, 2, 4, 5, 10 and 20 peso coins were introduced. These coins were designed by Charles E. Barber, who also designed the Barber dimes, quarters, half dollars for the US. The coins were minted at the US mint at Philadelphia. The gold coins and 2 centavos were not produced after 1916, with the large star design 1 peso ceasing production in 1934. A new silver peso showing a woman, representing the Cuban Republic, beneath a star (the "ABC peso") was issued from 1934 to 1939.[6] Finally, a centennial of Jose Marti commemorative peso (also minted in 50, 25, and 1 centavos denominations) was produced in 1953.

Brass 1 and 5 centavos were issued in 1943, and with copper nickel composition sporadically from 1915 to 1958. Beginning in 1915, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 40 centavos coins were occasionally minted. The last 10, 20, and 40 centavo coins were produced in 1952; these were commemorative issues celebrating the fiftieth year of the republic. As mentioned above, in 1953, silver 25 and 50 centavos commemorative coins were also issued. These were the last silver coins issued for circulation. The last US produced coin was the 1961 five centavo piece.[7]

In 1962, cupro-nickel 20 and 40 centavos were introduced, followed, in 1963, by aluminium 1 and 5 centavos. In 1969, aluminium 20 centavos were introduced, followed by aluminium 2 centavos and brass 1 peso in 1983. Cupro-nickel 3 peso coins were introduced in 1990, with brass-plated-steel 1 peso and nickel-clad-steel 3 peso coins following in 1992. 40 centavo coins were withdrawn from circulation around July 2004 and are no longer accepted as payment. In 2017, the Banco Central de Cuba introduced bi-metallic 5 pesos coin (the difference is the denomination and composition (with a cupronickel ring and a brass center plug). Coins currently in common circulation are 5 and 20 centavos and 1, 3 and 5 pesos; 1 and 2 centavo coins are rarely seen (due to their tiny value) but still valid.

Between 1988 and 1989, the National Institute of Tourism (Instituto Nacional de Turismo, "INTUR") issued "Visitors' Coinage" for use by tourists. In 1981, cupro-nickel 5, 10, 25 and 50 centavos and 1 peso were introduced, followed in 1988 by aluminium 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 centavos. The INTUR coins were demonetized on October 15, 2001 and were replaced by convertible pesos (CUC).


Uncut strip of 20 centavos notes
5, 10, 20, 25, 50 centavos

Under the Spanish Administration, the Banco Español de la Habana introduced Cuba's first issue of banknotes in 1857 in denominations of 50, 100, 300, 500 and 1,000 dollars.[8] The 25 peso denomination was introduced in 1867,[8] and the 5 and 10 peso denominations in 1869.[8] During the Ten Years' War, notes were issued dated 1869 in the name of the Republic of Cuba in denominations of 50 centavos, 1, 5, 10, 50, 500 and 1000 pesos.

In 1872, 5, 10, 25 and 50 centavo, and 1 and 3 peso notes were introduced by the Banco Español de la Habana.[9] In 1891, the Treasury issued notes for 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 pesos. In 1896, the name of the bank was changed to the Banco Español de la Isla de Cuba, and it issued notes in denominations of 5 and 50 centavos[10] and 1, 5 10, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 pesos, followed by 10 and 20 centavos in 1897.[11]

In 1905, the National Bank of Cuba (Banco Nacional de Cuba) issued notes for 1, 2, 5 and 50 pesos. However, the 1905 banknotes were not issued (source: Pick's catalog) In 1934, the Government introduced silver certificates (certificados de plata) in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 pesos, followed by 100 pesos in 1936 and 500 and 1000 pesos in 1944.

Silver certificates

During the latter half of 1933, Cuba passed a series of laws to enact the production of Silver certificates (Certificado De Plata). Cuban silver certificates were designed, engraved, and printed by the US Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing from 1934 to 1949 and circulated in Cuba between 1935 and the early 1950s. The eight series of notes were dated 1934, 1936, 1936A, 1938, 1943, 1945, 1948, and 1949 and ranged from one peso to 100 pesos. A Cuban representative was on-site in Washington DC to consult and approve designs.

Banco Nacional de Cuba

In 1949, the Banco Nacional de Cuba resumed paper money production, introducing notes in denominations of 1, 5, 10 and 20 pesos that year, followed by notes in denominations of 50, 100, 500, 1000 and 10,000 pesos in 1950. Denominations above 100 pesos were not continued. In January 1961, all previous bank notes were demonetized, with new bank notes, printed in Czechoslovakia, placed into circulation. Three-peso notes were added in 1983 with 200-, 500-, and 1000-peso notes being (re-)introduced in 2015. The 1961 bank notes were demonetized on May 1, 2002.[12] Banknotes currently in circulation are 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000 pesos.

Banknotes of the Cuban peso (Current issues)
1 peso José Martí Fidel Castro and his men entering Havana, (January 8, 1959)
3 pesos Ernesto Guevara ("Che") "Che" Guevara cutting sugar cane
5 pesos Antonio Maceo Conference between Antonio Maceo and Spanish General A. Martinez Campos at Mangos de Baragua (1878)
10 pesos Máximo Gómez "War of the people"
20 pesos Camilo Cienfuegos Banana harvest and fieldwork ("Development of Agriculture")
50 pesos Calixto García Íñiguez Genetic and Biotechnological Centre (es)
100 pesos Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Anti-imperialistic tribune "José Martí", Havana
200 pesos Frank País Cuartel Moncada, Santiago de Cuba
500 pesos Ignacio Agramonte Asamblea Constituyente (Constituent Assembly), Guáimaro
1,000 pesos Julio Antonio Mella University of Havana


Employees of the Cuban state and of state enterprises are paid their basic salary in CUP, with some paid a performance-dependent bonus in CUC. Staple goods and services not oriented towards foreign visitors are usually paid for in CUP. 'Luxury' goods and services, including most imported goods and anything intended for consumption by foreign visitors, are generally paid for in CUC. Since around 2014, most state shops which previously accepted only CUC have accepted either currency, with exchange charts posted by the tills. State shops and markets selling basic foods continue to accept only CUP.

There might occasionally be places which use this system to confuse tourists, and charge them in CUC when they should be charging them in CUP. As an example, this will be like paying 5 USD for something that is only worth 0.20 USD.[13]

As of 2011, the official rate is 1:24 to exchange CUC cash for CUP and 25:1 the reverse.[14]

Exchange rate websites often show misleading rates for the CUP.

See also



  1. Cuba new 200-, 500-, and 1,000-peso notes to be issued 01.02.2015 January 16, 2015. Retrieved on 2015-01-17.
  2. Cuba new 200-, 500-, and 1,000-peso notes confirmed February 15, 2015. Retrieved on 2015-02-16.
  3. "1 peso at Numista". Numista.
  4. Cuhaj 2009, p. 299.
  5. "The Story Behind the 1897 Cuban Peso and the 1898 Peso". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2013-04-17.
  6. Do You Know Your ABC's?
  7. "LA MONEDA CUBANA". Jose Maria Aledon, La Moneda Cuba. 1999.
  8. Cuhaj 2010, p. 397.
  9. Cuhaj 2010, p. 399.
  10. Cuhaj 2010, p. 401.
  11. Cuhaj 2010, p. 402.
  12. source: Banco Central Cuba, Granma, February 27, 2002
  13. "33 Tourist targeted scams in Cuba". Retrieved 2019-06-16.
  14. "Central Bank announcement 12 March 2011". Cuban Centrai Bank. 24 March 2011. Retrieved 2017-03-24.


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