The Turkish lira (Türk Lirası – TL) was introduced in 1844 and was the currency of Turkey until 2005. That year Turkey switched to the New Turkish Lira (Yeni Türk Lirası – YTL, or more officially TRY). They dropped six zeros of the old banknotes and introduced new banknotes and coins. As you can see further down, they are Euro look-alikes but unfortunately worth a bit less. And in 2009, the currency changed again to the Turkish Lira ( TL).
Chronic inflation from the late 1970s onward, with a whopping 65% in 1999, saw the Turkish Lira sharply depreciate against other currencies. In those days, the Guinness Book of Records ranked the lira even as the world’s least valuable currency. Therefore, starting 1981, almost every two years higher denomination notes were introduced, from the 5.000-lira note in 1981 to the 20.000.000-lira note in 2001.
New Turkish Lira
In December 2003, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey passed a law that allowed for the removal of six zeroes from the currency, and the creation of the New Turkish Lira. It was introduced on January 1st 2005, replacing the previous lira at a rate of 1 new lira = 1.000.000 old lira. The last few years, the Turkish currency stabilized and even rose against the US Dollar and the Euro. But it is still preferred not to change your money to TLs prior to your arrival in Turkey. The old Turkish lira remained in circulation until the end of 2005, but is now no longer valid and thus worthless. Make sure you don’t receive those as change!
The New Turkish Lira banknotes exist in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 YTL. All notes show portraits of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk from different points of his life and images of various historical and/or important buildings and places in Turkey.
At the same time, new coins were introduced in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 New Kuruş (Yeni Kuruş – YKR) and 1 New Turkish Lira. They too are Euro look-alikes, so be careful. One kuruş is worth 1/100 of one lira.
Future Turkish Lira
As of January 1st 2009, the prefix ‘New’ used in the New Turkish Lira and New Kuruş will again be removed and new banknotes, without the prefix ‘New’, will be put into circulation together with the current ones. The New Turkish Lira banknotes will be withdrawn from circulation as of January 1st 2010.
Nevertheless, the New Turkish Lira banknotes will be redeemed for a period of ten years starting from January 1st 2010 till the expiration of working hours on December 31st 2019 at the branches of the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey. The New Turkish Lira banknotes will be worthless as of January 1st 2020.