Banknotes and coins
As a rule, euro banknotes and coins must be accepted in all transactions, regardless of their nature. Creditors are obliged to accept any type of banknote or coin and, as a general rule, cannot refuse them.
Refusing to accept euro banknotes and coins as a means of payment should only be possible if grounded in good faith (e.g. if the face value of the banknote tendered by the debtor is disproportionate to the amount owed to the creditor of the payment) or in case of agreement between the parties to use a different means of payment. This understanding reflects the provisions of Commission Recommendation of 22 March 2010 on the scope and effects of legal tender of euro banknotes and coins.
The legal tender and discharging power of euro banknotes and coins, i.e. the fact that they can be used as a means of payment in the relevant territory, arise from the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and Council Regulation (EC) No 974/98 of 3 May 1998 on the introduction of the euro.
Nonetheless, there are legal restrictions to cash payments in Portugal:
- set out in Law No 92/2017 of 22 August 2017;
- in Decree-Law No 246/2007 of 26 June 2007, in accordance to which no one is obliged to accept more than 50 normal euro coins in any single payment, with the exception of the State, through Treasury cash offices, the Banco de Portugal and credit institutions the business of which is to take deposits from the public.
There are no penalties for refusing to accept payments in euro banknotes and coins. However, this refusal has consequences for the contractual relationship between the parties. Under the Portuguese Civil Code, the debtor fulfils their obligation by making the payment due, and the creditor may be considered in arrears if they do not accept the payment offered without good reason.
Contact one of the Banco de Portugal’s cash offices (or a cash office of another Eurosystem national central bank), which will check the banknote. If doubts remain as to whether the banknote was intentionally mutilated or damaged, you must identify and explain in writing the cause of the mutilation or damage or what happened to the missing parts of the banknote. If the banknote has ink stains or is dirty, you must also give a written explanation of the circumstances in which this occurred.
Yes. Nothing prevents merchants from organising this type of campaign. However, accepting escudo banknotes depends on the decision of the interested parties.
Note that campaigns promoting the use of escudo banknotes as a means of payment must previously be communicated to the Banco de Portugal.
The European Central Bank and the Eurosystem national central banks have a duty to safeguard the integrity of euro banknotes by continuing to update and improve their security features and by taking advantage of technological advances in banknote production.
The introduction of the Europa series is part of this process to continuously develop the euro banknotes, in order to make them even more secure.
No. Banknotes and coins (cash) will remain the main means of payment for the foreseeable future. Cash carries value, can be reliably authenticated and distinguished from counterfeits, and does not require any third party to settle the payment. No other payment instrument includes these three elements as effectively as cash.
To obtain euro coins issued by other countries, contact the national central bank of the country that issues these coins, the national authority responsible for minting them, the branches of credit institutions circulating them or businesses specialised in selling them.
Portugal (Escudo): PTE 200.482
Austria (Schilling): ATS 13.7603
Belgium (Franc): BEF 40.3399
Cyprus (Pound): CYP 0.585274
Estonia (Kroon): EEK 15.6466
Finland (Markka): FIM 5.94573
France (Franc): FRF 6.55957
Germany (Mark): DEM 1.95583
Greece (Drachma): GRD 340.750
Ireland (Pound): IEP 0.787564
Italy (Lira): ITL 1936.27
Latvia (Lats): LVL 0.702804
Lithuania (Litas): LTL 3.45280
Luxembourg (Franc): LUF 40.3399
Malta (Lira): MTL 0.429300
Netherlands (Guilder): NLG 2.20371
Slovakia (Koruna): SKK 30.1260
Slovenia (Tolar): SIT 239.640
Spain (Peseta): ESP 166.386
The public can check the security features of banknotes and coins by using, respectively, the “feel, look and tilt” and the “feel, look, verify” methods, which are appropriate and effective to determine the authenticity of banknotes and coins. However, you may come across suspect banknotes and coins. Below are a few suggestions of how to act if you suspect a banknote or coin might be counterfeit:
- If you have any doubts about the authenticity of a banknote or coin, do not accept it. Fake/counterfeit banknotes and coins are worthless; as such, if you accept a fake/counterfeit banknote or coin, you will receive no compensation.
- Contact the Banco de Portugal for more information.
- Politely ask for another banknote/coin and assume the person who handed you the banknote/coin is innocent. Inform them that they are in possession of a suspect banknote/coin and suggest that they contact the local police, a bank or the Banco de Portugal. In any case, do not put yourself in danger.
- Immediately inform the local police or your security officer about the incident.
- Try to remember as much as you can about the person who handed you the banknote.
- If you think you have accepted a counterfeit by mistake, do not pass it on. Putting a counterfeit in circulation is a criminal offence. Hand over the suspect banknote/coin to your local police, a bank or the Banco de Portugal. If the banknote/coin is genuine, you will get your money back.
The Banco de Portugal offers face-to-face training courses on the authenticity of euro banknotes free of charge. Click here for more information on these initiatives.