What is the Currency of Switzerland?

By Ritu Kohli on September 6 2017 in Economics

Swiss franc banknotes.

The Swiss Franc

Switzerland’s political neutrality and monetary prudence of its central bank, makes the Swiss Franc one of the strongest and stable currencies of the world. Its sign is: Fr or SFr (old). Its currency code is CHF. Currency traders and bankers often call it as “swissie”.

The abbreviation "CHF" is derived from the Latin name of the country, "Confoederatio Helvetica," with an "F" appended to represent "Franc". The Swiss Franc is the legal tender not only in Switzerland but also in Liechtenstein and Campione d’Italia. Liechtenstein, however, retains the right to issue its own currency called the Liechtenstein Frank.

Despite the Euro, the Swiss Franc continues to be one of the strongest and most traded in the world. It is also considered a safe-haven currency.


Switzerland’s official name is the Swiss Confederation. It consists of 26 “cantons” and "half-cantons". Prior to 1850, Cantons and 75 additional entities used to issue their own coins. Private Banks used to circulate their banknotes as well. In 1848, the Swiss Federal Constitution was passed. This constitution gave an exclusive right to issue currency to the Federal government. On May 7, 1850, the Federal Assembly passed the Federal Coinage Act and created the Franc as the currency of Switzerland.

Swiss National Bank (SNB)

SNB is the central bank of Switzerland. According to the Federal Constitution, only the Swiss Confederation can issue banknotes. The Confederation has transferred this exclusive right to the SNB. The SNB issues banknotes in accordance with the demand for payment transactions. The banknotes are printed by Orell Füssli Security Printing Ltd. on behalf of the SNB.

The coin-issuing privilege is also held by the Swiss Confederation. However, Swissmint produces coins on behalf of the confederation. The Swiss Confederation has assigned the task of distributing coins to SNB, via its network of bank offices.


Swiss banknotes feature all the four national languages (Germany, Romansh, French, and Italian) of Switzerland. The First banknote series (1907) is also known as the Interim banknotes. The second series banknotes were issued between 1911 and 1914. The third series notes were circulated between 1918 and 1930. The third series was only partially issued. Banknotes of the Fourth series (1938) were designed by the two painters, Victor Surbeck and Hans Erni. However, none of the banknotes of this series were put into circulation. The fifth series (1956) was designed by Pierre Gauchat and Hermann Eidenbenz’s. For the first time, in the fifth series, a 10-dollar Franc was issued. The Sixth banknote series (1976) was designed by Ernst and Ursula Hiestand. These banknotes were recalled on May 1, 2000 and are no longer a legal tender. The notes of the Seventh series (1984) were designed by Roger and Elisabeth Pfund. However, these notes were never circulated and were duly destroyed. The Eighth banknote series, designed by Jörg Zintzmeyer’s, was brought into circulation between 1995 and 1998. Banknotes of the Ninth series (2016) are entering the circulation in a phased manner. The 50-franc note of this series was issued on April 12, 2016 and the 20-franc note was issued on May 17, 2017.

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