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Barbados Currency

The dollar has been the currency of Barbados since 1935. The present dollar has the ISO 4217 code BBD and is normally abbreviated with the dollar sign "$" or, alternatively, "Bds$" to distinguish it from other dollar-denominated currencies. It is divided into 100 cents.


The history of currency in the British colony of Barbados closely follows that of the British Eastern Caribbean territories in general. Even though Queen Anne's proclamation of 1704 brought the gold standard to the West Indies, silver pieces of eight (Spanish dollars and later Mexican dollars) continued to form a major portion of the circulating currency right into the latter half of the nineteenth century.



Britain adopted the gold standard in 1821 and an imperial order-in-council of 1838 resulted in Barbados formally adopting the British sterling coinage in the year 1848. However, despite the circulation of British coins in Barbados the silver pieces of eight continued to circulate alongside them and the private sector continued to use dollar accounts for reckoning. The international silver crisis of 1873 signalled the end of the silver dollar era in the West Indies and silver dollars were demonetized in Barbados in 1879. This left a state of affairs, in which the British coinage circulated, being reckoned in dollar accounts at an automatic conversion rate of 1 dollar = 4 shillings 2 pence. The first currency denominated in dollars to be issued on Barbados was in the form of private banknotes introduced in 1882. No subdivisions of the dollar were issued and these notes circulated alongside sterling, together with 1 pound notes issued by the government in 1917. From 1920, some of the private banknotes also carried a denomination in sterling, with 1 dollar = 4 shillings 2 pence.

From 1949, with the introduction of the British West Indies dollar, the currency of Barbados became officially tied up with that of the British Eastern Caribbean territories in general. Between 1938 and 1949, the Barbados government issued paper money denominated in dollars. The last private bank issues were also made in 1949.The British sterling coinage was eventually replaced by a new decimal coinage in 1955, with the new cent being equal to one half of the old penny. In 1965, the East Caribbean dollar replaced the British West Indies dollar on Barbados.


The present dollar was created after the establishment of the Central Bank of Barbados (CBB), which was founded by Act of parliament in May, 1972. The Barbados dollar replaced the East Caribbean dollar at par in 1973. Since July 5, 1975, the Barbados dollar has been pegged to the US dollar at US$1 = Bds$2.


In 1973, coins were introduced in denominations of 1, 5, 10 and 25 cents and 1 dollar. Until 1991, the 1 cent was struck in bronze. Since 1992, copper-plated zinc has been used. The 5 cent is struck in brass, whilst the highest three denominations are struck in cupro-nickel. The 1 dollar coin has an equilaterally-curved-heptagonal shape. Many of the coins in circulation have been struck at the Royal Canadian Mint.