Once the euro banknotes and coins start circulating, a period of gradual withdrawal of the national currency also begins during which citizens are able to exchange their old banknotes and coins. Exchange is free of charge at any bank in the first weeks or months after the changeover, and remains possible at national central banks for a longer, sometimes even unlimited, period.
During the changeover process to the euro, national central banks gradually withdraw the national currency from circulation. This is partly done during the so-called ‘dual circulation period’ where both euro and national currencies can circulate together as legal tender. During the dual circulation period retailers help remove the old currency by giving euro in change, and citizens can swap the old currency for euro at banks
Exchanging at retail banks
During the dual circulation period, and in some cases for a longer period, exchanging old currencies for euro at high street banks can be done free of charge – but there are time limits, which also vary between countries and after which there may be a charge. There may also be restrictions on the amounts that can be exchanged in retail banks, although not at central banks.
Exchanging at central banks
Central banks continue to exchange the old national currency free of charge well after the retail banks stop doing it – which is very often at the end of the dual circulation period – and sometimes for an unlimited duration. In other cases, they set time limits that differ from one country to another and can also be different for banknotes and coins. Below is an exchange calendar that shows these time limits for exchanging old national currencies for each Member State of the euro area.
Central banks may also set limits on the maximum amount per transaction, and the series of national banknotes and coins accepted for exchange against euros, as in some cases very old cash may not be exchangeable. For specific exchange conditions applicable in each Member State, links to the respective national central banks are also provided in the table below.
Euro-area exchange calendars
|National central bank||Banknotes until||Coins until|
|Belgium||Unlimited||31 December 2004|
|Greece||1 March 2012||1 March 2004|
|France||17 February 2012||17 February 2005|
|Italy||29 February 2012||29 February 2012|
|Cyprus||31 December 2017||31 December 2009|
|Luxembourg||Unlimited||31 December 2004|
|Malta||31 January 2018||1 February 2010|
|Netherlands||1 January 2032||1 January 2007|
|Portugal||28 February 2022||31 December 2002|
|Slovenia||Unlimited||31 December 2016|
|Slovakia||Unlimited||31 December 2013|
|Finland||29 February 2012||29 February 2012|
Slovenia, an example
The Council approved Slovenia’s entry to the euro area in July 2006. From 1 January 2007, euro banknotes and coins became legal tender, with a two-week dual circulation period ending on 14 January 2007 where the national currency (the tolar) and the euro could be used in cash transactions.
In accordance with the EC Regulation, Slovenia agreed that people could exchange notes and coins free of charge at the pre-determined conversion rate (1 euro = 239.640 tolars):