When you're in Jamaica you will need to use Jamaica currency. The official currency of Jamaica is the Jamaican Dollar (JMD) and it is divided into 100 cents.
Jamaican dollars are printed by De La Rue Currency Ltd. in England. As a matter of fact, since 1920 this company has been printing bank notes used in Jamaica.
Jamaican banknotes are currently issued in 5 denominations, namely the $50, $100, $500, $1000 and $5000. Each note has the following characteristics:
In addition, all Jamaican dollars (except the $1000 and $5000 note) have special symbols on the front to aid the visually impaired. The high value $1000 and $5000 notes have their denomination printed in bold numerals to the bottom right hand corner.
|$50||Vertical line on right and left sides of note|
|$100||Two vertical lines on right side of note|
|$500||Two small circles on right side of note|
[SIDENOTE: $100 is commonly referred to as "bills". $500 is sometimes called "Nanny" while $1000 is referred to as "Manley" because of the National hero's portrait on each note.]
Jamaican coins are minted by the British Royal Mint. Coins currently in circulation are in denominations of 1¢, 10¢, 25¢, $1, $5, $10 and $20.
All coins bear the Jamaican coat of arms on the obverse (front).
On the reverse (back) of all coins - except the 1¢ - is a portrayal of a Jamaican national hero. The back of the 1¢ coin features the national fruit, ackee.
[SIDENOTE: 10¢ and 25¢ are often referred to as "red money" because of their reddish colour.]
Jamaica currency has had a long and interesting history. Our first inhabitants used items such as glass beads and trinkets, scissors and mirrors. (Read more about History of Jamaica: A Timeline.)
In 1509 when the Spaniards settled here, they introduced copper coins called maravedis which probably came here from Santo Domingo.
During the 16th and 17th century Jamaica received a constant supply of pieces of eight primarily because is was the bullion centre of British possessions in the New World.
On November 11, 1869 the first truly Jamaican coins came into circulation. Both Jamaican and English coins of similar value weighed the same. The difference was the Jamaican coins had the Jamaican coat of arms on the reverse.
May 1, 1961 was the date when Bank of Jamaica notes came into circulation. Each note featured a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. Additionally, each note bore the signature of Stanley W. Payton (the first Governor of the bank).
The decimal system of currency was approved on January 30, 1968 by the House of Representatives... and on September 8, 1969, decimal currency coins and notes came into circulation.
Jamaica's $5000 banknote was issued on 24 September 2009.
The official Jamaica currency exchange rate fluctuates daily. It's therefore a good idea to shop around for a rate that suits you before you change your cash.