Spanish Currency – The Euro
The currency in Spain is the euro. 100 cents equals 1 euro, and the coins and the notes are easily recognisable after a short while.
The euro (€) is the official currency of 16 of the 27 member states of the European Union (EU). The states, known collectively as the Eurozone, are Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain.
Euro notes and coins became legal tender on 1st January 2002 replacing the peseta.
The euro is divided into 100 cents (céntimo) and coins are minted in values of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 cents, €1 and €2.The largest of the coins is EUR 2 and the smallest of the notes is EUR 5. The notes are distinguished from each other by both size and colour and are the same throughout the EU.
Spanish coins carry three designs (the king’s head on the €1 and €2 coins, Cervantes on the 10, 20 and 50 cent coins, and the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela on the 1, 2 and 5 cent coins), the word ‘España’ and the date of minting. All euro coins can, of course, be used in all eurozone countries (although minute differences in weight occasionally cause problems in cash machines, e.g. at motorway tolls!).
Euro banknotes (billetes) are identical throughout the eurozone and depict a map of Europe and stylised designs of buildings (as the member countries couldn’t agree which actual buildings should be shown!). Notes are printed in denominations of €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500 (worth over £300 or $600!). The size of notes increases with their value. Euro notes have been produced using all the latest anti-counterfeiting devices. Nevertheless, you should be wary, especially of €200 and €500 notes. The euro symbol may appear before the amount, after it (commonly used by the Spanish, e.g. 24,50€) or even between the euros and cents, e.g. 16€50.
It’s advisable to obtain some euro coins and banknotes before arriving in Spain and to familiarise yourself and your family with them. You should have some euros in cash, e.g. €50 to €100 in small notes, when you arrive, but should avoid carrying a lot of cash. This saves you having to change money on arrival at a Spanish airport (where exchange rates are usually poor and there are often long queues). It’s best to avoid €100 notes, if possible, as these sometimes aren’t accepted, particularly for small purchases.
Note also that many shops and businesses don’t generally accept €200 and €500 notes. The €500 note is due to be phased out from 2016, to combat fraud.
IVA – Value Added Tax
One thing to look out for on prices generally is the addition of sales tax – IVA (usually pronounced “iba”) – which may come as an unexpected extra when you pay the bill for food or accommodation, especially in more expensive establishments.
The current rate of IVA ( VAT ) in Spain stands at 21% (2016)
There is a reduced rate of 10% which is applied to the following goods and services:
Sporting events of an amateur nature
Exhibitions and fairs
Health products and equipment
Non-basic food products and water
Rubbish collection and treatment
Pest control, waste water treatment