Ngultrum is the currency of Bhutan and it is one of the symbols of an independent country. One Ngultrum is divided into 100 fractions known as Chetrum. The symbol of Ngultrum is ‘Nu.’ and Chetrum is ‘Ch’. Ngultrum is coded as ‘BTN’. Literally, Ngultrum means silver coin and Chetrum means half coin.
The paper currency of Bhutan was formally launched only in 1974. Until then, the coins were used as a legal tender. Ngultrum was declared as the only legal tender money in Bhutan in 1979, five years after its launch.
Bhutan Currency Notes/Denominations
Ngultrum has 9 denominations: Nu. 1, Nu. 2, Nu. 5, Nu. 10, Nu. 20, Nu. 50, Nu. 100, Nu. 500 and Nu. 1000. Bhutan has coins with denominations of Ch. 10, Ch. 25, Ch. 50 and Nu. 1 but not a common tender although its legal.
Likewise, Nu. 1 notes and Nu. 2 notes not much in use.
Value of Bhutanese Currency
Ngultrum is pegged to the Indian Rupee (Rs.) at parity and the therefore, the value of Ngultrum is equivalent to the Indian Rupee. This is so because the economy of Bhutan is dependent on India.
Ngultrum was valued at Nu. 35 to US$1 in the late 2000s but has since fallen in value. By 2015, the Ngultrum was worth 66 and by end of 2018 and beginning of 2020, the Ngultrum was worth 72.
Find out today’s Ngultrum exchange value at the Bhutan National Bank.
Currency Exchange in Bhutan
Tourist or anyone needing Ngultrum can exchange checks or cash at the foreign exchange desk at Paro Airport or any other banks in Bhutan. Bhutan has five banks.
5 Banks of Bhutan
Currencies that can be exchanged in banks include the US$, Pound Sterling, Euro, Japanese Yen, Swiss Franc, Hong Kong Dollar, Canadian Dollar, Danish Kroner, Australian Dollar and Singapore Dollar. Some hotels also provide foreign exchange services.
Some currency exchange services, approved by the Central Bank of Bhutan, can be found in Thimphu and Paro. A couple of high end hotels also provide currency exchange services.
ATMs and POS Terminals
Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) are located in main towns throughout Bhutan, where money can be withdrawn using a Visa or MasterCard. Likewise, the cards can be used to pay bills for hotel or shopping at Point of Sale Terminals (POS).
There are over 246 ATM and 779 POS terminals deployed all across 20 dzongkhags of Bhutan. Out of the total ATMS, more than 41 percent (101) are BOB terminals and remaining 59 percent by BNB (56), T Bank (20), DPNBL (22), and BDBL (47) altogether.
Similarly, for POS, out of the total 779 POS terminals, 84 percent (656) is owned by the BOB.
Following is the list of ATM locations in Bhutan.
1. For BoB (Bank of Bhutan) account holders: BoB ATM Locations
2. For BNB (Bhutan National Bank) account holders: BNB ATM Locations
3. For PNB (Druk Punjab National Bank) Account holders: PNB ATM Locations
Indian Rupees in Bhutan
Indian Rupee is a legal tender in Bhutan and therefore, can make payments without having to exchange Ngultrum.
RuPay card holders can use their cards across all ATMs and POS terminals in Bhutan.
Minting authority in Bhutan
The Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan is the central bank of Bhutan and the minting authority of Bhutanese currency, Ngultrum.
The Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan was established under the Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan Act of 1982. Subsequently, the Act of 1982 was amended by the Financial Institutions Act of 1992 and replaced in its entirety by the Royal Monetary Authority Act of 2010.
Prior to the establishment of the RMA in 1982, functions relating to central banking were conducted by the Ministry of Finance, State Trading Corporation of Bhutan and the Bank of Bhutan.
History of Bhutanese paper currency
Bhutan, through the Ministry of Finance, issued first paper currency in 1974 coinciding with the coronation of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck. It called as ‘Rup’ and had issued notes in denomination of Nu. 1, Nu. 5, Nu. 10 and Nu. 100.
The paper currency of Bhutan was designed by the master craftsman Khikhor Lopon and his counterpart PB Chitnis of the Indian Security Press. V Swaminathan under the supervision of HRH Ashi Sonam Chhoden Wangchuck, sister of the Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck.
Until then, monetary transections were all done in coins. The practice of the use of money for payment for goods and services came into being only towards early 1960’s.
Back then, the money was understood by the name Tiru. It actually is coined by joining two words, Tikchang and Rupiya.
Commemorative Notes and Coins
The Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan issues commemorative notes and coins to commemorate national events and great figures. Such notes and coins are also legal tender Commemorative notes and coins are produced in limited quantities.
First bank of Bhutan
The Bank of Bhutan is the country’s first bank established in 1968 as a joint venture with the Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China, which owned 25% of the bank. In 1970, this share was transferred to the State Bank of India.
History of coins in Bhutan
Bhutan had mints in Paro, Trongsa and Dagana by the 19th Century. Although huge variety of coins were available in the country, Bhutanese rarely used coins for trade or to pay off debts or dues.
The Bhutanese had no use for money during those early times since they bartered for everything they needed.
Bhutanese treasured coins as items of value. High ranking officials passed them around as items of gift, rather than anything of monetary value.
In 1928, due to the poor minting capacity of coins, His Majesty Jigme Wangchuck, the Second King of Bhutan ordered the coins to be struck at the Calcutta Mint in India.
Since then all our coins have been struck in India, and in later years, in various other countries. The most extensively used coin before the paper money came into being in 1974 was the Thala which has a value of Ch. 50.