What is the Currency of Singapore?

By Ritu Kohli on September 7 2017 in Economics

Singaporean dollar banknotes.

Singapore occupies a pre-eminent place in the global financial industry. As a result, its currency, the Singapore dollar, is one of the most traded currencies in the world. Its sign is S$. Its currency code is: SGD.

The History of Singapore's Currency

Although Singapore gained independence in 1965, it started using its own currency, the Singapore dollar, in 1967. The “Lion City” state has used different currencies during its long history. Singapore used Chinese coins during the 14th century, and Spanish and other silver dollars (Mexican, Hong Kong, Peruvian and Bolivian) during majority of the 19th century. Some other currencies were also introduced in Singapore such as the Indian Rupee during 1826 and 1867, the Straits dollar from 1903 to 1939 and the Malayan dollar from 1940 to 1953.

The Issuing Authority

On June 12, 1967, the city state, created its Board of Commissioners of Currency, Singapore (BCCS). It was the currency-issuing authority of the country. However, on October 1, 2002, the BCCS merged with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), making MAS a full-fledged central bank with currency issuing, as one of its functions.

Currency Notes

The initial Singapore dollar notes, printed between 1967 and 1976, are called “orchids” because they have a picture of orchid, the national flower of Singapore. It has nine denominations, 1-dollar, 5-dollar, 10-dollar, 25-dollar, 50-dollar, 100-dollar, 500-dollar, 1000-dollar, and 10,000-dollar.

Orchids were followed by the series named “bird” (1976 – 1984). The “bird” notes carry a picture of a bird on their left side. Orchid and Bird notes have same denominations except, 25-dollar denomination of the orchid is replaced by 20-dollar denomination in the bird series.

The next note series was “ship” (1984 – 1999). In the “ship” series, the 20-dollar notes were withdrawn and new 2-dollar notes were introduced. This series highlights country’s rich shipping heritage and contributions of merchant shipping in Singapore’s economic development.

In the “portrait” series (1999 - present), the 1-dollar and 500-dollar denominations were not included. This series contains a portrait of Encik Yusof Bin Ishak, Singapore’s first president. The reverse side of each denomination features a unique theme based on the first President's biography.


The first series, issued on November 20, 1967 has six denominations of 1-cent, 5-cent, 10-cent, 20-cent, 50-cent and 1-dollar. All coins in this series have a same reverse design, which is, the denomination (value) in the center. The year-date is on the top. There are two stalks of paddy on the left side and "Singapore" is written on the right.

The second series, issued on December 2, 1985, initially had four denominations viz. 5-cent, 10-cent, 20-cent and 50-cent. These were followed by the 1-cent and 1-dollar denominated coins on September 28, 1987. This series carries the Flora theme and features local plants and flowers. It seeks to improve country's image as a garden city.

The third series coins were issued on June 25, 2013. This has five denominations; 5-cent, 10-cent, 20-cent, 50-cent and 1-dollar. The lion-head symbol is minted on all denominations. Size of the coins increases progressively, that is, the 5-cent coin is the smallest and the 1-dollar coin is the largest in size.

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