The South African rand has been the official currency of South Africa since 1961. It is represented by the symbol “R” and its ISO 4217 code is ZAR.
The rand gets its name from a low mountain range outside Johannesburg, running through the Gauteng province of South Africa called the Witwatersrand (Afrikaans for “white water mountain range”).
Gauteng is one of the nine provinces that make up the Republic of South Africa and its capital is Johannesburg. It is at this elevation where there were important gold deposits that were used to mint money and hence the name “rands”, due to its origin from this mountain range.
The change as of the date of this update of May 27, 2023, from the euro to rand currencies is:
- 1 Euro = 21.11 Rand
- 1 Rand = 0.047 Euro
Although, as we will see later, the exchange of the Rand coins and banknotes is much less interesting. And it can be worse, depending on where you exchange your currency.
History of the South African rand
The history of coinage in South Africa dates back to the period when South Africa comprised four separate regions which later became provinces of the Union of South Africa.
A government mint was established in Pretoria in 1890 which began domestic coin production in 1892.
After the unification of South Africa in 1910, the British pound sterling was used in the country until 1961.
The currency of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republic was also used until 1938. From 1961 the previous system and the pound were abandoned and the rand was decimalized. And since then several series of coins and banknotes have been printed.
South African rand banknotes and coins
The Reserve Bank of South Africa (South African Reserve Bank) is responsible for issuing banknotes and coins by law of 1989, the “South African Reserve Bank Act 90”.
This Central Bank has the exclusive right to design, issue and destroy banknotes in South Africa. This through its subsidiary, “South African Bank Note Company”, which since 1958 has printed all banknotes on behalf of the Bank. Domestic banknote production began in 1961 at the time South Africa adopted a decimal currency.
The “resbank” is also in charge of minting all the South African coins through its subsidiary, the “South African Mint Company” which would be a kind of mint.
In May 2023, a new issue of Rand banknotes and coins has been presented by the South African Central Bank.
South African rand coins
One rand (“R”) is divided into 100 cents (cents, “c”). In May 2023, a new series of 6 coins was minted with these denominations of rands (the 5 cent coin is discontinued due to its extremely low value):
- 10, 20 and 50 cent rand coins and
- Coins of 1, 2 and 5 rand.
Let’s look at these coins in detail:
5 rand coin
The previous issue of the 5R coin bore the image of the Black Wildebeest (Connochaetes gnou), and has been minted in all 11 languages spoken in South Africa since 1994.
This coin has been replaced with the southern right whale (Eubalaena australis) in this new edition of the R5 coin issued in 2023.
The coin retains the specifications and edge design but features enhanced security features on the reverse including a latent image with the words ‘FIVE’ and ‘RAND’ as well as micro wording reading ‘SOUTH AFRICAN RESERVE BANK’ on an angled surface within the landing were incorporated into the design.
2 rand coin
The 2R coin bears the image of the king of antelopes, there called “Kudu”, and mintage began in 2002.
A variety of designs of South Africa’s national animal, the gazelle (Antidorcas marsupialis), have appeared on South African coins. The most recent version of this antelope appears on this fourth edition of the R2 coin. The coin depicts a female gazelle with her young in front of a mountainous landscape.
1 rand coin
The 1R coin bears the image of the antelope called “Springbok” and was minted in 1947.
Aside from the commemorative R1 coins, different versions of the country’s national animal have appeared on the reverse of every new R1 coin so far.
In 2023, South Africa’s national flower replaces its national animal, the King Protea (Protea cynaroides) on the new nickel-plated steel R1 coin.
50 Rand cent coin
The 50c coin bears the image of the flower “Strelitzia Reginae” (bird of paradise or bird’s flower) and was minted in 1965.
When the second decimal series was introduced, the 50c coin became a nickel and the reverse changed to a floral design depicting 3 flowers.
The floral theme was maintained in the third version of the 50c coin with a strelitzia on the reverse from 1990 to 2022.
In the current 2023 version, a new theme is introduced, featuring the bird Knysna Turaco (Tauraco corythaix), with outstretched wings about to perch.
20 cent Rand coin
The 20c coin bears the image of the flower “Protea cynaroides” (national flower of the country) and began to be minted in 1925.
The 2023 bronze-plated steel 20c coin follows the botanical theme with an illustration of bitter aloe (Aloe ferox), following that of the 1965-1990 nickel 20c coin which featured a protea with three flowers in various stages and the protea design that was part of the third series of decimal coins issued from 1990 to 2022.
10 Rand cent coin
Finally, the 10c copper clad steel coin is the smallest denomination in the quarter decimal coin series and is dedicated to an insect for the first time on a South African circulation coin.
In it you can see the Cape bee or South African bee (Apis mellifera capensis). Previous versions of the 10c coin featured South African flora, the arum lily from 1990 to 2022, and the aloe from 1965 to 1989.
South African rand banknotes
As with the coins, a new collection of rand banknotes has been introduced in May 2023. In this new issue there are still 5 different denominations of South African rand banknotes: 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 rand.
They all continue to honor South Africa’s first democratically elected president, Nelson Mandela, with his portrait on the front, but it is on the reverse that the most significant changes take place, although the country’s Big 5 wild animals remain: the rhinoceros (10R) , the African elephant (20R), the African lion (50R), the buffalo (100R) and the leopard (200R).
These that we put here are the ones from the last edition of 2023, but the previous issues (same animals, somewhat different designs) are still in circulation as well.
Euro to South African rand exchange rate
The exchange rate of the euro against the rand oscillates at all times.
If you search Google for “euro-South African rand exchange”, you will find dozens of websites (“currency converters”) that offer a “rate” of the day. You will also see this graph with the prices of that pair of currencies from Google Finance. Something like this (May 27, 2023):
As you can see, the change over the last five years has oscillated between 15.5 and 21.2 rands per euro. But keep in mind that this graph represents the value of the South African rand “currency” against the euro, and not the lower actual currency used by South Africans and tourists.
In fact, in currency suppliers in Portugal today you can buy “rands” at an exchange rate between ZAR 14 at the airport and ZAR 18 for every euro that you will find in Cambiator. Nothing to do with the euro-rand currency exchange that today is at 21.11 rands per euro.
So, when you see these values in Google and other currency converters with your mobile, keep this in mind:
-This is an unofficial rate, and therefore unreliable. In other words, if you click on the “Disclaimer” link, you will get this warning from Google Finance: “Google cannot guarantee the accuracy of the exchange rates displayed. Please confirm current rates before making a transaction that may be affected by changes in exchange rates.”
-These rates you see are usually wholesale prices of the South African rand currency against the euro currency (currency and paper money are not the same);
-This rate can only be obtained by the banks among themselves, that is, it is impossible to obtain it as an individual.
If you need rands in banknotes you will have to go through the ticket retail market (bank or or currency supplier). This market means that the rands have had to be “transported” by someone for you to enjoy them (or bought from travelers from South Africa, previously passing through Portugal). In other words, moving tickets from one place to another has logistical costs that will make their sale price more expensive (the exchange rate that will be applied by whoever sells them to you).
The South African rand is a currency that is not very abundant in Portugal. For this reason it is not easy to find them available for sale in or currency suppliers. So it is good to anticipate the purchase and order them online to obtain a better rate.
Where to exchange South African rands in Portugal
The 3 most popular places to exchange ZAR in Portugal are banks, currency exchange suppliers (“casas de câmbio”) and the airport.
Of them, the least recommended place to buy is the airport since today they would give you, for example, about 14 rands per euro.
For their part, the large Portuguese banks buy and sell rands, but if you are going to change with them, keep in mind that in addition to the exchange rate they offer you, they will charge you a commission of between 2, 5 and 3% of the amount changed.
In other words, if you change 1000 euros to rands, you will pay more than between 25 and 30 euros of commission for the exchange service and they will change the rest with their exchange rate of the day.
For their part, currency suppliers usually have good rates (except those in airports and railway stations), which have very attractive exchange offices but do not give good rates).
The currency suppliers that collaborate with Comparer Devise do not charge you a commission and when competing with each other, you can always hire the supplier that best suits you (for price, convenience, proximity to you, trust, etc.) to exchange rands.
Euro to South African rand exchange rate today
To know the euro to rand exchange rate in currency suppliers, banks and the airport, in Portugal, the best thing you can do is use our currency comparator.
Click on the link of your interest depending on whether you want to buy rands or sell them in exchange for euros and you will see where to get the best change online or in your city:
- Buy South African rand with euros (EUR-ZAR)
- Sell your South African rands in exchange for euros (ZAR-EUR)