What Is the Currency of Costa Rica?

By Japhet Rotich on July 17 2019 in Economics

Assorted Costa Rican colón coins and banknotes.

The official currency of Costa Rica is the Costa Rican colón. The currency uses the symbol ₡ and the code CRC. The Costa Rican colón is subdivided into 100 centimos, and the currency's plural form is colones.


The colón is named after explorer Christopher Columbus, who is referred to in Spanish as Cristóbal Colón. The Costa Rica colón was created in 1896, as a replacement for the Costa Rican peso, which existed between 1850 and 1896.


The first Costa Rican colón coins were introduced in 1897 and produced in denominations of 2, 5, 10, and 20 colones. The 50 centimos coin made from silver, and 2 centimos coins made of cupro-nickel 2 were added 1903, followed by 5 and 10 centimos coins in 1905, which included the letters G.C.R as an indication that the coins were issued by the government.

Between 1917 and 1919, subunits of the colón were renamed as centavos, rather than centimos. During this time, 5 and 10 centavos coins were issued, and a 50 centavo was produced but not put into circulation.

The government resumed introducing centimo coins in 1920, still bearing letters G.C.R, starting with 5 and 10 centimos coins. In 1923, 25 and 50 centimos coins made from silver, together with the unused 50 centavos coins, came into circulation. In 1925, the production of silver 25 centimos began, and between 1936 and 1941 brass 10 centimos coins were issued.

The production of cupro-nickel coins by the International Bank of Costa (B.I.C.R.) began in 1935, which came in various denomination, and included the letters B.I.C.R. However, between 1937 and 1948, the bank also introduced coins in the same denominations, but with B.N.C.R. printed on them. These denominations included 25 and 50 centimos, and one colon.

Since 1951, the Central Bank of Costa Rica has issued coins with B.C.C.R. printed on them, and has also added 5 and 10 centimos coins. In 2009, the larger silver-colored 5, 10 and 20 colón coins were slowly removed from circulation, and replaced with lighter 5 and 10 colón coins and gold-colored 5, 10, 25, 50, 100 and 500 colón coins.


Banknotes were issued by private banks between 1896 to 1914. In fact, the Banco Anglo-Costarricense issued notes as early as 1864. The bank was later taken over by state, but became bankrupt and closed in 1994. Another private bank, Banco de Costa Rica, established in 1890, started issuing banknotes in various denominations of pesos and colóns until 1914.

Gold certificates were issued by the government for various denominations of colones, and silver certificates were issued for 1, 2, 50 and 100 colones and 50 centimos between 1897 and 1917.

Banco Internacional and Banco Nacional issued banknotes of different denominations in 1914. The Banco Central de Costa Rica issued banknotes from 1950 to date, in denominations ranging from 5 to 100 colones.

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