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Polish Currency Spotlight: Polish Złoty

In Business and Currency by Continental StaffLeave a Comment

Poland and the złoty have had a tumultuous history. Both have survived centuries of conflict, invasions and political and economic turmoil. Despite joining the EU, Poland still uses the złoty and likely will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. So if you are planning a trip to Poland you’re going to need to buy Polish złoty – at least for now.

Fast Facts: Polish złoty

  • Polish zloty Symbol:
  • Polish Currency Code: PLN
  • Subunits: Grosz (gr)
  • Coins: 1gr, 2gr, 5gr, 10gr, 20gr, 50gr, 1zł, 2zł, 5zł
  • Banknotes: 10zł, 20zł, 50zł, 100zł, 200zł
  • Polish GDP (nominal): $420.958 billion (22nd)
  • Central Bank: National Bank of Poland

Polish Currency History

Złoty literally translated means golden and the name was first used in the 14th century to refer to the many different gold coins that circulated the country, most commonly Hungarian ducats. In 1787 the złoty became the country’s official currency. The currency survived the Partitions of Poland through the Duchy of Warsaw. After falling under Russian control the złoty was issued by Congress Poland (also called Russian Poland).  Between 1835 and 1846 Krakow, which was independent, issued its own currency called the Krakow złoty. In 1850 the złoty was replaced by the rubel, although złoty coins remained in circulation despite this.

German occupation during WWI saw the rubel replaced by the marka – equivalent to the German papiermark.  In 1924 the złoty was reintroduced at a rate of 1 złoty to 1 800 000 marka. This złoty was also subdivided into 100 groszy. By 1940 the Germans had returned, restamped the złoty and fixed the exchange rate at 1 reichsmark to 2 złoty. New notes were introduced in 1944 before being replaced by a new złoty in 1950 at a rate of 1 new to 100 old.

From 1950 to 1990 the foreign exchange złoty was used for calculation purposes in the strictly controlled communist system. Rates were set by the government and depended on who was buying foreign currency and what they intended to do with it. When the communist rule ended so did this system of exchange rates, and a new market-based system was implemented. In 1995 a fourth złoty replaced the previous one at a rate of 10 000 old to 1 new. Poland is obliged to eventually join the euro, despite poor public support. Poland has yet to join ERM II, the first step to joining the euro, and it is highly unlikely it will do so before 2020.

Zloty Notes and Coins

When the new zloty was introduced in 1995 the first series of coins were released in denominations of 1, 2, 5 10, 20 and 50 gr and 1, 2 and 5 złotych.

10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 złotych bills were also introduced in 1995, which were then replaced in 2014 with notes of the same denominations. In 2015 a 200 złotych note was introduced and a 500 złotych note is planned for 2016.

Value Obverse Reverse
10 zl Mieszko I of Poland Copy of a coin issued during Mieszko I’s reign
20 zl Bolesław I the Brave Copy of a coin issued during Boleslaw I  reign
50 zl Casimir III the Great White eagle from the seal of Casimir III the great, a scepter and a globus cruciger
100 zl Władysław II Jagiełło White eagle from the tomb of Wladyslaw, coat of arms of the Teutonic Knights and the Grunwald swords
200 zl Sigismund I the Old Eagle intertwined with the letter S from Sigismund’s chapel


Since being re-denominated in the mid 1990’s the złoty has bounced between 2,4244 zl to 1 USD in 1995 and 4,3464 zl to 1 USD in 2001. Since 2010 the złoty has been between 3,2581 zl to 1 USD in 2012 and 2,9636 zl to 1 USD in 2011.

1 EUR is currently (10:45AM, Nov 27 2015) valued at 4.2711 PLN

1 USD is currently (10:45AM, Nov 27 2015) valued at 4.0329 PLN

1 CAD is currently (10:45AM, Nov 27 2015) valued at 3.0191 PLN

Polish Economy

Poland has arguably the healthiest post-communist economy. Since the fall of communism the country has liberalised, and consistently been one of the fastest growing countries in the EU. Agriculture makes up just 3.5% of the economy, with industry second at just over 30% and Services at 57%. Machinery manufacturing, iron and steel, coal mining, and shipbuilding are all major industries. The country has a high credit rating and is ranked 25th globally in terms of ease of doing business.

zloty coins poland polish silver

Final Thoughts

The złoty, like Poland itself, has been reborn time and again – without really ever going away – having recovered strongly since the fall of communism. Poland is obliged to join the euro, but this actually happening looks to be a ways off.

Whether you need to buy Polish złoty or any other of over 160 different currencies, we’ve got you covered!

For a broader understanding of Polish history and culture check out our Country of the Week profile. For information about traveling to Poland then be sure to follow our Travel Guide.

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