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Currency Spotlight: Cayman Islands Dollar

In Business and Currency by Continental StaffLeave a Comment

Sun, sky, beaches, (almost) no taxes, the Cayman Islands sound like a paradise. If you want to buy Cayman Islands dollars, you may have to be willing to spend a bit much, as the currency is one of the highest value in the world. However, few would deny that a trip to this Caribbean country is worth the cost.

Want to learn more about the Cayman Islands?

History and Culture | Travel Guide

Fast Facts: Cayman Islands Dollar

  • Symbol: $ or CI$
  • Currency Code: KYD
  • Coins: 1, 5, 10, 25 cents
  • Banknotes: 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 100 dollars
  • Caymanian GDP (nominal): $3.268 billion (159th)
  • Central Bank: Cayman Islands Monetary Authority


Until 1972 the Cayman Islands used the Jamaican dollar, with the British West Indies dollar before that. In 1972 the Cayman Islands dollar was introduced at par with the Jamaican dollar and both currencies remained legal tender on the Cayman Islands. In 1974 the Currency Law of 1974 was passed pegging the KYD to the USD at a rate of 1 to 1.227. In 2013 this law would later be revised to dictate that the value of the Cayman dollar was determined by the discretion of the Governor.

Notes and Coins

Coins are minted in denominations of 1, 5, 10 and 25 cents. Originally all coins were struck in either bronze or cupronickel, but these metals were replaced by copper and nickel plated steel in 1992.

Originally, in 1972, the Cayman Islands Currency Board released 1, 5, 10 and 25 dollar notes. In 1981 unique 40 bills were printed but were soon taken out of circulation. 100 notes followed in 1982 and 50 dollar notes in 1987. The latest series was released in 2011.

Denomination Colour Obverse Reverse
$1 Blue, orange, violet Angel fish, Queen Elizabeth II, Coat of Arms, map of the Cayman Islands Nautilus shell and Cayman Brac
$5 Green Hawksbill Turtles, Queen Elizabeth II, Coat of Arms, map of the Cayman Islands Conch shell, parrots
$10 Red, violet, dark grey land crabs,Queen Elizabeth II, Coat of Arms, map of the Cayman Islands Shell and banana
$25 Dark brown, light brown, orange Scallop shell, Queen Elizabeth II, Coat of Arms, map of the Cayman Islands Scallop shell, Hawksbill turtle
$50 Purple Stingrays,Queen Elizabeth II, Coat of Arms, map of the Cayman Islands Shell and Stringray
$100 Orange, brown and red Cayman Schooners,Queen Elizabeth II, Coat of Arms, map of the Cayman Islands Conch shell, Financial center in George Town


The Cayman Islands dollar remains at 1 KYD to 1.2 USD and is one of the highest value currencies in the world.

CAD Canadian dollar KYD Cayman Islands graph

1 KYD to CAD over the past 5 years (courtesy of Rate Watch)


It is no secret that the Cayman Islands economy is reliant on two things: tourism and financial services. Combined they represent as much as 80% of the country’s GDP. It is no accident that this is the case. The Cayman Islands Investment Bureau is a government agency tasked with promoting and establishing investment. The country’s tax free status has attracted internanal banks, companies and individuals to set up shop on the islands. More than 40 000 businesses are registered in the Cayman Islands including over 500 banks with assets in excess of $500 billion. The tourist industry has developed thanks to pristine beaches, cheap shopping, luxury hotels, scuba diving and fishing.

The government is making moves to try and diversify the economy, but it will take a long time before tourism and financial services are dislodged from their dominant position. Until that does happen, both industries show no sign of slowing down.

cayman islands tax haven beach caribbean gold pile money

The Bottom Line

The Cayman Islands are almost a byword for tax avoidance, but the territory shows no sign of relenting and, if you’re looking for a tax haven, you may as well pick one with sunny skies, pristine beaches and a luxury tourism industry.

For a broader understanding of Caymanian history and culture check out our Country Profile. For information about traveling to the Cayman Islands then be sure to follow our Travel Guide.

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