Millions of Latvian lats still not exchanged

After Latvia gave up its national currency, the Latvian lats, and switched to euros on January 1, 2014, 94.7 percent of lats banknotes and 37.6 percent of lats coins have been exchanged for euros by the end of July 2015, according to the information from the Bank of Latvia.

The Latvian central bank’s spokesman Janis Silakalns told BNS on Thursday that 37.6 percent of lats coins, worth 27.3 million lats (EUR 38.8 mln) and 94.7 percent of lats banknotes, worth 930 million lats (EUR 1.323 b), had been taken out of circulation by the end of July this year.

At the end of July this year, 345.3 million lats coins weighing 793 tons still had not been exchanged, he said.

Most of the lats coins not yet exchanged are of the smallest denominations – one-santims coins and two-santims coins, altogether 242.4 million coins. The number of the unexchanged one-lats coins is 24.6 million, including special design coins.

Most of the lats banknotes that had not yet been exchanged are five-lats banknotes (1.8 million banknotes) and 20-lats banknotes (one million banknotes).  

"We expect people to be exchanging only small amounts of lats for euros in the future," said Silakalns.

Latvia joined the euro area on January 1, 2014, becoming its 18th member.

One-lat coins are popular memorabilia in Latvia, with the rarest coins fetching 10 times over what once was their circulation value. Lats can be exchanged for euros indefinitely at the Bank of Latvia. 

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