New banknotes and coins to go into circulation today

The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) has released the upgraded series of banknotes and coins, which are expected to go into circulation from today.

According to the bank, the upgraded notes and coins have enhanced security features and new designs.

While the banknote designs will remain largely similar to that of old, with an enhanced look and feel, the coinage has the most significant changes, now boasting ecologically inspired designs.

“The banknotes continue to pay tribute to South Africa’s first democratically elected President, Nelson Mandela, with his portrait retained on the front of the banknotes, while the Big 5 animals are now illustrated as a family on the back.

“We also celebrate our constitutional democracy, with the preamble to the South African Constitution printed in microtext around Madiba’s portrait and the country’s flag featured on the front and the back of the banknotes.

“The theme of the coin series is ‘Deep ecology’, which acknowledges the interconnectedness of living organisms as an integral part of the environment. These themes are depicted by our fauna and flora on the coin,” the SARB said.

Changes to the coins include:

  • The Cape honey bee is on the 10c; bitter aloe is on the 20c; the Knysna turaco is on the 50c; the king protea is on the R1; the springbok is on the R2 and southern right whale is on the R5 coin.
  • The South African flag is on the front of the R1 coin.
  • The words ‘South Africa’ are in one language on the R1 coin.
  • The words ‘South Africa’ are in three languages on the R5 coin.
  • The latent image on the R5 changes from ‘RAND’ to ‘FIVE’ when tilted.
  • The coin series has new landing patterns on the inside of the coin to assist the visually impaired community to differentiate between the various denominations by feel.


The SARB explained that international best practice informs that banknotes and coins are regularly upgraded to “combat counterfeiting and to stay abreast with technological advancements”.

“In general, banknotes are refreshed in intervals of six to eight years and coins in intervals of 20 to 30 years. In South Africa, the current Mandela banknote series was issued in 2012 and a commemorative series of banknotes was issued in 2018. The current coin series was issued in 1989.

“The SARB does not demonetise its currency. All previously issued circulation banknotes and coins can be used as a means of trade together with the upgraded banknotes and coin. All circulation currency maintains its face value.

“Members of the public are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the upgraded banknotes and coins and to use the look, feel and tilt method to authenticate their currency. Changes to the upgraded banknotes and coins are available on the SARB website and the SARB Currency App, which is available on the Apple iStore and the Google Play Store,” the SARB said.


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