ISO is the International Organisation for Standardisation. ISO currency codes are the agreed alphabetic and numeric codes for the representation of currencies. You’ll spot currency codes when you look for exchange rates online, when you read news about currency values, or when you send international payments.
This guide covers how standard ISO currency codes work, and provides a list of currency codes for major currencies. We’ll also look at how you can save money on international currency exchange with Wise.
ISO currency codes are used to avoid confusion and simplify trading, sending and receiving foreign currencies.
The ISO currency code list is overseen by a dedicated maintenance agency, and governed by an official document known as ISO 4217. This system makes sure that each currency has a unique and agreed 3 letter currency symbol, which is mirrored by a 3 digit numeric code. There’s also ISO 3166 which governs country codes and issues agreed alphanumeric codes for each country on earth.
You’ll usually come across the currency code alphabetic symbols when you’re buying, selling or sending foreign currencies. For example, the code for US dollars is USD - while the euro currency code is EUR. If you see USD/EUR, for example, you’ll know you’re looking at the exchange rate for USD to EUR.
You can get a full list of ISO currency codes from ISO’s website - or check out this list of major ISO currency codes for reference.
|Hong Kong dollars||HKD|
|New Zealand dollars||NZD|
|South African rand||ZAR|
ISO currency codes are often used when converting currencies - but it’s good to know that switching your funds with a regular bank can be a costly hassle. You could save up to 6x compared with using your regular bank if you choose a specialist service like Wise.
Open a Wise account online or in the Wise app in just a few minutes to hold and convert 50+ currencies, and get bank details to receive money from 30 countries for free. You could get paid in a range of global currencies including USD, GBP, AUD, NZD, EUR and SGD just like a local, wherever in the world you might be.
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The ISO currency codes are based on ISO country codes, with the first 2 letters being taken from the agreed ISO country code, and the third - as far as possible - representing the first letter of the currency. So British pounds are described using the country code GB for Great Britain, plus the letter P for pounds - GBP. This isn’t always possible - MXN for example is the currency code for Mexican pesos, although MXP was used up into the early 90s when the peso was revalued.
The ISO has also agreed and issued equivalent numeric currency codes - these are 3-digit codes which correspond to the more common alphabetic codes. USD for example has the equivalent numeric code of 840. These codes are not intended for general use, so you’re unlikely to come across them in day-to-day life. Instead, the numeric codes are used for trading and order processing algorithms, where a numeric code is more easily recognized by automated systems compared to an alphabetic code.
Still got questions? Here are a couple of popular questions and answers about ISO standard currency codes.
Currency codes are unique codes which are a standard length of 3 letters long.
The standard ISO currency code for the Indian rupee is IND.
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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