European Currency

From 1 January 2002, when Euro notes and coins are introduced, it will become increasingly more difficult to use the national currencies of Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. Initially most countries will have a two month transition period after which the old currencies will cease to be legal tender and they will only be accepted by banks as shown in this table:

Table of final dates for national currencies #1
CountryLegal tenderCommercial
Central bank
Central bank
Austria28-02-2002To be decided   UnlimitedUnlimited
Belgium28-02-200231-12-2002End of 2004Unlimited
Finland28-02-2002Up to banksTen yearsTen years
France17-02-200230-06-2002At least 3 years   Ten years
Germany31-12-2001 #2   28-02-2002UnlimitedUnlimited
Greece28-02-2002To be decidedTwo yearsTen years
Italy28-02-2002To be decidedTen yearsTen years
Luxembourg   28-02-200230-06-2002End of 2004Unlimited
Portugal28-02-200230-06-200231-12-2002Twenty years


  1. Data dated December 2000 from the European Central Bank.

  2. According to a joint statement of professional associations businesses will accept Marks until at least 28 February 2002.

During the transition period it should be possible to use both currencies but as shops and restaurants change to the Euro they will be reluctant to use the old currency. In practice most shops will only give change in Euros from 1 January 2002 hence withdrawing old currencies from circulation within two or three weeks. If you are not intending to visit the Eurozone soon, you should exchange any legacy currency notes as soon as possible as non-Eurozone banks are unlikely to accept them after they cease to be legal tender.

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