Banknotes of the Hong Kong dollar

Hong Kong dollar
港元   (Chinese)

Hong Kong SAR
ISO 4217
Code HKD
Symbol $ or HK$
Banknotes $10, $20, $50, $100, $150 (commemorative), $500, $1,000
Official user(s)  Hong Kong
Unofficial user(s)  China
Monetary authority Hong Kong Monetary Authority

Issuing banks:

Government of Hong Kong ($10)
The Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation (Hong Kong)
Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong)
Bank of China (Hong Kong)

Note printer:

Hong Kong Note Printing Limited:

The issue of banknotes of the Hong Kong dollar is governed in the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), the governmental currency board of Hong Kong. Under licence from the HKMA, three commercial banks issue their own banknotes for general circulation in the region. Notes are also issued by the HKMA itself.

In most countries of the world the issue of banknotes is handled exclusively by a single central bank or government. The arrangements in Hong Kong are unusual but not unique, as a comparable system is used in the United Kingdom where eight banks issue banknotes (one in England and Wales, three in Scotland, and four in Northern Ireland) and Macau where two banks issue banknotes.

Hong Kong banknotes in everyday circulation are $10, $20, $50, $100, $500 and $1,000.

The total value of banknotes in circulation in Hong Kong can be found in the HKMA Monthly Statistical Bulletin and the HKMA Annual Report.


A Hong Kong Government $1 note from 1935

Origins till 1900

In the 1860s the Oriental Bank Corporation, the Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation began issuing notes. Denominations issued in the 1860s and 1870s included 1, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100 and 500 dollars. These notes were not accepted by the Treasury for payment of government dues and taxes, although they were accepted for use by merchants. 25-dollar notes did not survive beyond the end of the 19th century, whilst the 1-dollar notes (issued only by the HSBC) were issued until 1935.

20th century

Under the Currency Ordinance of 1935, banknotes in denominations of 5 dollars and above issued by the three authorised local banks (the Mercantile Bank of India, London and China, Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China and the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation) were all declared legal tender. The government took over production of 1-dollar notes. In 1941, the government introduced notes for 1, 5 and 10 cents due to the difficulty of transporting coins to Hong Kong caused by the Second World War (a shipment of 1941 1-cent coins was sunk, making this unissued coin very rare). Just before the Japanese occupation, an emergency issue of 1-dollar notes was made consisting of overprinted Bank of China 5-yuan notes.

In 1945, paper money production resumed essentially unaltered from before the war, with the government issuing notes of 1, 5 and 10 cents and 1 dollar, and the three banks issuing notes of 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 dollars. 1-dollar notes were replaced by coins in 1960, with only the 1-cent note issued by the government after 1965.

In 1975, the 5-dollar notes were replaced by a coin, whilst 1000-dollar notes were introduced in 1977. The Mercantile Bank was absorbed by HSBC in 1978 and ceased issuing notes. In 1985, 20-dollar notes were introduced, whilst, in 1993, a 10-dollar coin was introduced and the banks stopped issuing 10-dollar notes. In 1994, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), gave authority to the Bank of China to issue notes.

The 1-cent note issued by the Government was demonetised and ceased to be legal tender on 1 October 1995.

21st century

Between 1994 and 2002 an attempt was made to replace privately issued 10-dollar notes with coins issued by the government. In response to public demand for the continuation of a $10 note, the HKMA issued its own ten-dollar notes. Ten-dollar banknotes are currently the only denomination issued by the HKMA, having acquired the note printing plant at Tai Po from the De La Rue Group of the UK on behalf of the Government.

Leading to the incorporation of Standard Chartered (Hong Kong) on 1 July 2004, the Legislative Council of Hong Kong amended Legal Tender Notes Issue Ordinance. The amendment replaced Standard Chartered Bank with its newly incorporated subsidiary - Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Ltd - as one of the note-issuing banks in Hong Kong.[1]

The older (green) 10-dollar banknotes previously issued by two commercial banks are still circulating and remain legal tender, although they are being phased out since September 2005. These are popular for lai see and are noticeably scarce in the run up to Chinese New Year.

A commemorative polymer ten-dollar note was issued in July 2007 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China.[2] The new note will circulate along with other 10-dollar issues for a trial period of two years, though the initial batch released was largely snapped up by collectors.[3][4]

Note-issuing banks

Banknotes circulated by four different note issuers

The Government, through the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, authorises three commercial banks to issue currency notes in Hong Kong:

Authorisation is accompanied by a set of terms and conditions agreed on between the Government and the three note-issuing banks. Banknotes are issued by the three banks, or redeemed, against payment to, or from, the Government Exchange Fund in US dollars, at a specified rate of US$1 to HK$7.80 under the Linked Exchange Rate system. Banknotes issued by the three commercial banks are printed in Hong Kong by Hong Kong Note Printing Limited.

Note printing

In April 1996, the HKMA acquired the note printing plant at Tai Po from the De La Rue Group of the United Kingdom on behalf of the Government. The plant has been operating under the name of HKNPL since then. The acquisition of the plant enables the Government, through the HKMA, to be directly involved in the production of Hong Kong currency notes, which is in line with the responsibilities conferred upon the Government under the Legal Tender Notes Issue Ordinance and the Basic Law. In March 1997, the Government sold 15 per cent of its shareholding in HKNPL to the China Banknote Printing and Minting Corporation, a People's Republic of China state-owned enterprise. In October 1997, the Government sold 10 per cent of HKNPL issued shares to each of the three note-issuing banks. The Government continues to exercise management control and maintains a majority stake in HKNPL, with the Chief Executive of the HKMA as the Chairman of the company.

Recently the bank has acquired polymer banknote technology to print the ten-dollar banknote for a trial period of two years.[3]

Banknotes currently in circulation

The HKMA issues the 10-dollar note and the other three banks issue denominations of 20 (blue), 50 (green), 100 (red), 500 (brown) and 1000 (gold) dollars.[5]

In September 2009, Standard Chartered Bank issued the world's first 150-dollar denomination banknote, at its 150th year anniversary. Approximately 750,000 notes were sold at above face value, in various combinations and presentations, as a commemorative charity issue. Although legal tender, the notes are unlikely to enter circulation, due to their rarity and expected higher re-sale value.[6]

From the 13–20 February 2012, Hong Kong's Bank of China will be taking orders for a new 100-dollar note to commemorate the bank's 100th anniversary. Although legal tender, the notes aren't intended for circulation. 1,100,000 notes will be sold as numismatic products packaged in a folder for HK$150. An additional 100,000 sets of three uncut notes in a folder for HK$600. Finally, 20,000 uncut sheets of 30 notes each will be sold for HK$6,000 each. Profits from the sale of the notes will be donated to charitable organizations in Hong Kong.[7][8]

In 2015, following the example of Standard Chartered Bank, the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation plans to issue a 150-dollar commemorative banknote to celebrate its 150th anniversary. It comes in a single note presented in a folder, a 3-in-1 uncut sheet presented in a folder and a 35-in-1 uncut sheet.[9][10]

2003 series

Image Value Landmark for design Identifying device
The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation series
$20 Victoria Peak; Peak Tram HSBC lion
$50 Po Lin Monastery HSBC lion
$100 Lantau Link:Tsing Ma Bridge HSBC lion
$500 Hong Kong International Airport HSBC lion
$1000 Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (New wing); Victoria Harbour HSBC lion
Bank of China (Hong Kong) series
$20 Peak Tower Bank of China Tower
$50 Tsim Sha Tsui Waterfront: Hong Kong Cultural Centre and Space Museum Bank of China Tower
$100 Lantau Link:Tsing Ma Bridge Bank of China Tower
$500 Hong Kong International Airport Bank of China Tower
$1000 Wan Chai Waterfront: Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and Central Plaza Bank of China Tower
Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) series
$20 Hong Kong 1850s picture Chinese dragon headed carp
$50 Hong Kong 1890s picture Chinese dragon headed turtle
$100 Hong Kong 1930s picture Qilin
$500 Hong Kong 1970s picture Fenghuang
$1000 Hong Kong 2000s picture Chinese dragon
Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region series
$10 (paper) Geometric design Horse
$10 (polymer) Geometric design Horse

2010 new series

Image Value Landmark for design Mascot for design
The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation series
$20 Mid-Autumn Festival HSBC lion and the HSBC Building
$50 Spring Lantern Festival
$100 HKSAR Establishment Day
$500 Lunar New Year
$1000 Dragon Boat Festival
Bank of China (Hong Kong) series
$20 Repulse Bay Bank of China Tower
$50 Tung Ping Chau
$100 Lion Rock
$500 High Island Reservoir
$1000 Victoria Harbour
Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) series
$20 Heritage and technology:
Abacus and binary code
Chinese dragon headed carp
$50 Heritage and technology:
Chinese combination lock and vault
Chinese dragon headed turtle
$100 Heritage and technology:
Sung script seal and printed circuit
$500 Heritage and technology:
Traditional face chart and biometrics
$1000 Heritage and technology:
Tang Dynasty coin and smart chip
Chinese dragon
Commemorative banknotes of the Hong Kong dollar
Image Value Landmark for design Mascot for design
$150 Standard Chartered Bank Building A group of people representing Hong Kong's history
$150 The old and current headquarters of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation ("Phases of growth); "Faces of growth"; "Reflections of growth"; "Security in growth" HSBC lions (Stephen and Stitt) and the old and current headquarters of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation
$20 Bank of China tower; Bird's Nest; ancient Greek column Bank of China tower
$100 Great Wall of China; Bank of China headquarters, Beijing Bank of China tower

Historical denominations and issuers

Previous issuers of banknotes were Mercantile Bank of India, London and China (1853–1984), Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China (1911-1956), The National Bank of China (1891–1911), Chartered Bank (1956-1982) Oriental Bank Corporation (1845–1884), the AGRA & Masterman's Bank Limited (1862–1866), The Asiatic Banking Corporation (1862–1866), and The Bank of Hindustan, China & Japan (1862–1966). All issued some or all of the denominations above.[11]

Those no longer issued include the 1, 5, and 10 cent notes along with the 1, 5, and 25 dollar notes.

On the other hand, there are also a lot of collectors that are interested in buying in such historical banknotes, including Collective Memories in Tsuen Wan.

Security features

The following security features are incorporated into genuine Hong Kong banknotes:

In pursuance to section 103 of the Crimes Ordinance (Cap 200 of Laws of Hong Kong), anyone who wants to reproduce the whole or any part of any Hong Kong currency note for any purpose in any form must apply in writing to the Monetary Authority for approval. No reproduced images should be submitted with the application because such an action would already amount to a breach of section 103 of the Crimes Ordinance. It is a criminal offence under the Crimes Ordinance to manufacture or knowingly pass, tender or possess a counterfeit banknote. The offence carries a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.

Adopted from the official website of Hong Kong Monetary Authority. Permission granted.


  1. "Cap 65 - Legal tender notes issue Ordinance" (PDF). Retrieved 7 September 2012.
  2. Nachthund (2007-01-07). "Update - Hong Kong.". Retrieved 2007-01-19.
  3. 1 2 HKMA (2007-03-12). "General Information on the Hong Kong Ten Dollar Polymer Note" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-03-13.
  4. HKMA (2007-06-23). "Hong Kong Ten Dollar Polymer Note". Archived from the original on 12 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-25.
  5. Ma Tak Wo 2004
  6. Leung, Paggie (2009-09-09). "StanChart marks anniversary with HK$150 note". SCMP. Retrieved 2009-09-09.
  7. Hong Kong Bank of China new 100-dollar commemorative note confirmed Retrieved 2012-02-28.
  8. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 February 2012. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
  9. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 March 2015. Retrieved 2015-03-04.
  10. Hong Kong new 150-dollar commemorative numismatic product confirmed June 10, 2015. Retrieved on 2015-06-15.
  11. World Paper Money Catalog and History - Hongkong Dollar
  • Ma Tak Wo 2004, Illustrated Catalogue of Hong Kong Currency, Ma Tak Wo Numismatic Co., LTD. Kowloon, Hong Kong. ISBN 962-85939-3-5

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