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Italian lira: Too late!

If you are still holding any old Italian banknotes, you've missed your chance to exchange them.

Until somewhat recently, there were still eight notes (pictured below) which were redeemable for euros. On December 6, 2011, the Italian legislature (apparently in connection with the Italian financial crisis) terminated the redemption of all outstanding lira. The following notice appeared on the website of the Banca D'Italia (Bank of Italy):

With the introduction of euro notes and coins, those denominated in lire ceased to be legal tender at the end of the dual circulation period on 28 February 2002.

Pursuant to Article 26 of Decree Law 201/2011, published in Gazzetta Ufficiale no. 284 of 6 December 2011, "by way of derogation from Article 3, paragraphs 1 and 1 bis, of Law 96/1997 and Article 52-ter, paragraphs 1 and 1 bis, of Legislative Decree 213/1998, lira banknotes, notes and coins still in circulation shall lapse and be assigned to the Treasury with immediate effect".

Accordingly, as of 7 December 2011 such banknotes and coins may no longer be exchanged at the branches of the Bank of Italy.

The bottom line: if you still have Italian lira, they are now worthless.

There is a lesson here, however. When times got tough for the Italian Treasury, it found a way to terminate redemption of their old banknotes on roughly 24 hours notice. If anyone was gathering the old notes with plans to cash them in just ahead of the original February 2012 deadline, they had the rug pulled out from under them. Don’t let this happen to you. If you are holding pre-euro banknotes from any of the other euro-zone countries which still permit redemption, the time to cash them in is NOW!

500,000 lira banknote - front500,000 lira banknote - back100,000 lira banknote - front100,000 lira banknote - back100,000 lira banknote - front100,000 lira banknote - back50,000 lira banknote - front50,000 lira banknote - back10,000 lira banknote - front10,000 lira banknote - back5,000 lira banknote - front5,000 lira banknote - back2,000 lira banknote - front2,000 lira banknote - back1,000 lira banknote - front1,000 lira banknote - back   Images courtesy of the Banca D’Italia.