Brazilian real

This article is about the modern Brazilian currency unit. For the currency of Brazil from the colonial period to 1942, see Brazilian real (old).
"BRL" redirects here. For other uses, see BRL (disambiguation).
"R$" redirects here. For the currency used in Rhodesia between 1970 and 1980, see Rhodesian dollar.
Brazilian real
real brasileiro (Portuguese)

Reais banknote of the latest series,
announced February 2010. Issued on 13 December 2010.[1][2]
ISO 4217
Code BRL
Number 986
Exponent 2
1/100 centavo
Plural Reais
Symbol R$
Freq. used R$2, R$5, R$10, R$20, R$50, R$100
Rarely used R$1 (discontinued in 2006)
Freq. used 5, 10, 25, 50 centavos, R$1
Rarely used 1 centavo (discontinued in 2006)
User(s)  Brazil
Central bank Central Bank of Brazil
Printer Casa da Moeda do Brasil
Mint Casa da Moeda do Brasil
Inflation 10,67% (2015)
Source Central Bank of Brazil, 2013
Method CPI

The real (/rˈɑːl/; Brazilian Portuguese: [ʁeˈaw]; pl. reais) is the present-day currency of Brazil. Its sign is R$ and its ISO code is BRL. It is subdivided into 100 centavos ("Cents").

The modern real was introduced in 1994, when it replaced the old currency, the cruzeiro real, as part of the Plano Real, a substantial monetary reform package that aimed to put an end to three decades of rampant inflation. At the time it was meant to have approximately fixed 1:1 exchange rate with the United States dollar. It suffered a sudden devaluation to a rate of about 2:1 in 1999, reached almost 4:1 in 2002 and then partially recovered until the domestic economic crisis of 2015. The exchange rate as of September 2015 was BRL 4.05 to USD 1.00. The currency has since been in a gradual recovery period, reaching 3.1 BRL per USD by October 2016.

The dollar-like sign (cifrão) is the currency's symbol (both historic and modern), and in all the other past Brazilian currencies, is officially written with two vertical strokes () rather than one.[3] However Unicode considers the difference to be only a matter of font design, and does not have a separate code for the two-stroked version.[4]


The modern real (plural reais) was introduced on 1 July 1994, during the presidency of Itamar Franco, when Rubens Ricupero was the Minister of Finance, as part of a broader plan to stabilize the Brazilian economy, known as the Plano Real. The new currency replaced the short-lived cruzeiro real (CR$). The reform included the demonetisation of the cruzeiro real and required a massive banknote replacement.

At its introduction, the real was defined to be equal to 1 unidade real de valor (URV, "real value unit") a non-circulating currency unit. At the same time the URV was defined to be worth 2750 cruzeiros reais, which was the average exchange rate of the U.S. dollar to the cruzeiro real on that day. As a consequence, the real was worth exactly one U.S. dollar as it was introduced. Combined with all previous currency changes in the country's history, this reform made the new real equal to 2.75 × 1018 (2.75 quintillions) of Brazil's original "réis".

Soon after its introduction, the real unexpectedly gained value against the U.S. dollar, due to large capital inflows in late 1994 and 1995. During that period it attained its maximum dollar value ever, about US$1.20. Between 1996 and 1998 the exchange rate was tightly controlled by the Central Bank, so that the real depreciated slowly and smoothly in relation to the dollar, dropping from near 1:1 to about 1.2:1 by the end of 1998. In January 1999 the deterioration of the international markets, disrupted by the Russian default, forced the Central Bank, under its new president Arminio Fraga, to float the exchange rate. This decision produced a major devaluation, to a rate of almost R$2 : US$1.[5]

In the following years, the currency's value against the dollar followed an erratic but mostly downwards path from 1999 until late 2002, when the prospect of the election of leftist candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, considered a radical populist by sectors of the financial markets, prompted another currency crisis and a spike in inflation. Many Brazilians feared another default on government debts or a resumption of heterodox economic policies, and rushed to exchange their reais into tangible assets or foreign currencies. In October 2002 the exchange rate reached its historic low of almost R$4 per US$1.

The crisis subsided once Lula took office, after he, his finance minister Antonio Palocci, and Arminio Fraga reaffirmed their intention to continue the orthodox macroeconomic policies of his predecessor (including inflation-targeting, primary fiscal surplus and floating exchange rate, as well as continued payments of the public debt). The value of the real in dollars continued to fluctuate but generally upwards, so that by 2005 the exchange was a little over R$2 : US$1. In May 2007, for the first time since 1999, the real became worth more than US$0.50 — even though the Central Bank, concerned about its effect on the Brazilian economy, had tried to keep it below that symbolic threshold.

Historical exchange rate (BRL:USD)

Brazilian Reals per USD 2002–2016
Year Lowest ↓ Highest ↑ Average
Date Rate Date Rate Rate
2002 11 April 2.264 10 October 4.005 2.9221
2003 2 July 2.818 14 February 3.700 3.078
2004 30 December 2.654 22 May 3.242 2.926
2005 11 November 2.163 15 March 2.766 2.4349
2006 5 May 2.056 24 May 2.405 2.1782
2007 14 November 1.732 5 January 2.153 1.948
2008 31 July 1.562 5 December 2.621 1.8349
2009 15 October 1.698 2 March 2.451 1.9974
2010 13 October 1.655 5 February 1.891 1.7603
2011 26 July 1.5284 22 September 1.952 1.675
2012 29 February 1.692 3 December 2.1395 1.9546
2013 11 March 1.943 21 August 2.4523 2.1576
2014 10 April 2.1825 16 December 2.7614 2.3531
2015 22 January 2.5554 23 September 4.2491 3.331
2016 25 October 3.1023 22 January 4.1737
Date Rate
1994-07-01 1.00
1994-10-14 0.83
1995-02-15 0.88
1995-12-29 0.97
1996-06-11 1.00
1996-12-31 1.04
1997-12-31 1.12
1998-12-31 1.20
1999-01-12 1.21
1999-01-13 1.31
1999-01-29 1.98
1999-03-03 2.16
1999-04-30 1.66
1999-12-31 1.78
2000-12-31 1.96
2001-05-02 2.23
2001-10-15 2.78
2002-01-25 2.38
2002-04-12 2.27
2002-06-27 2.83
2002-09-30 3.87
2002-10-12 3.93
2002-10-22 3.96
2002-12-27 3.53
2003-02-18 3.61
2003-06-28 2.87
2003-09-30 2.93
2003-12-28 2.93
2004-03-31 2.91
2004-05-23 3.18
2004-06-28 3.10
2004-09-30 2.85
2004-12-28 2.69
2005-02-19 2.56
2005-03-26 2.73
2005-06-28 2.38
2005-09-25 2.26
2005-11-11 2.17
2005-12-28 2.36
2006-03-27 2.15
2006-05-07 2.05
2006-12-29 2.13
2007-11-07 1.73
2008-08-01 1.56
2009-03-03 2.42
2009-10-14 1.71
2010-12-30 1.66
2011-07-23 1.53
2012-03-18 1.79
2012-08-19 2.01
2013-03-31 2.01
2013-07-13 2.26
2013-11-01 2.23
2014-01-23 2.40
2014-02-06 2.40
2014-10-23 2.50
2014-12-16 2.75
2015-01-22 2.56
2015-02-02 2.71
2015-03-06 3.05
2015-03-19 3.29
2015-04-24 2.95
2015-04-28 2.88
2015-05-08 2.97
2015-05-29 3.18
2015-08-06 3.53
2015-09-01 3.69
2015-09-04 3.80
2015-09-17 3.88
2015-09-22 4.05
2015-09-24 4.24
2015-09-25 3.97
2015-10-02 3.94
2015-10-09 3.75
2015-11-20 3.69
2015-12-03 3.74
2015-12-09 3.73
2016-02-23 3.97
2016-03-13 3.58
2016-06-30 3.18
2016-10-25 3.10


Brazil, and sometimes used in bordering countries, especially Brazil/Uruguay and Brazil/Paraguay borders in which every year millions of Brazilians go shopping at the duty-free stores etc. It is also widely accepted in Argentina, not only in shops and duty-free stores in border towns like Puerto Iguazú but also in shops and restaurants in the capital city, Buenos Aires.


First series (1994–1997)

Along with the first series of currency, coins were introduced in denominations of 1, 5, 10 and 50 centavos and 1 real; the 25 centavos piece soon followed. All were struck in stainless steel. The original 1-real coins dated 1994-1997 have been withdrawn from circulation since 31 December 1997; all other coins remain legal tender.

First series
Image Value Design
1 centavo Obverse: Laureate head of Liberty.
Reverse: Large denomination flanked by linear patterns.
5 centavos Obverse: Laureate head of Liberty.
Reverse: Large denomination flanked by linear patterns.
10 centavos Obverse: Laureate head of Liberty.
Reverse: Large denomination flanked by linear patterns.
25 centavos Obverse: Laureate head of Liberty.
Reverse: Large denomination intersected by wavy lines.
50 centavos Obverse: Laureate head of Liberty.
Reverse: Large denomination flanked by linear patterns.
1 real Obverse: Laureate head of Liberty.
Reverse: Large denomination flanked by linear patterns.

Second series (1998–present)

In 1998, a second series of coins was introduced. It featured copper-plated steel coins of 1 and 5 centavos, brass-plated steel coins of 10 and 25 centavos, a cupronickel 50 centavos coin, and a bi-coloured brass and cupronickel coin of 1 real. However, from 2002 onwards, steel was used for the 50 centavos coin and the central part of the 1 real coin.

In November 2005, the Central Bank discontinued the production of 1 centavo coins, but the existing ones continue to be legal tender. Retailers now generally round their prices to the next 5 or 10 centavos.

Second series
Image Value Design
1 centavo Obverse: The Southern Cross in right upper side.
Reverse: Depicts Pedro Álvares Cabral, Portuguese sea captain and Brazil's discoverer, with a 16th-century Portuguese ship in the background.
5 centavos Obverse: The Southern Cross in right upper side.
Reverse: Depicts Joaquim José da Silva Xavier (also known as Tiradentes), martyr of an early independence movement known as the Minas Conspiracy. In the background, a triangle, symbol of the movement, and a dove, symbol of peace and freedom.
10 centavos Obverse: The Southern Cross in right upper side.
Reverse: Depicts Emperor Pedro I, Brazil's first monarch. In the background, the Emperor on a horse: a scene alluding to the proclamation of independence.
25 centavos Obverse: The Southern Cross in right upper side.
Reverse: Depicts Field Marshal Deodoro da Fonseca, Brazil's first Republican president. The Republic's coat of arms is in the background.
50 centavos Obverse: The Southern Cross in right upper side.
Reverse: Depicts José Paranhos, Jr., the Baron of Rio Branco, the country's most distinguished Minister of Foreign Affairs. In the background, image of the country with ripples expanding outwards, representing the development of Brazil's foreign policy and the expansion and demarcation of the national borders.
1 real Obverse: The Southern Cross in right upper side.
Reverse: Outer ring depicts a sample of the marajoara art pattern. In the inner ring, the Efígie da República, symbol of the Republic.

Commemorative coins

Commemorative 1 real coins for the 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics Games in Rio de Janeiro. Left, allegory to Olympic boxing, right, allegory to Paralympic swimming.

The Brazilian Central Bank has also issued special commemorative versions of the 1 real coin on special occasions. These coins are legal tender and differ from the standard ones only on the reverse side.

Value Details
1 real Release date: 10 December 1998
Occasion: The 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Units produced: 600 thousand
Reverse: The official logo of the commemorations; in bas-relief, a human figure. In the outer ring, the inscriptions "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" and "50th anniversary"
1 real Release date: 12 September 2002
Occasion: The 100th birth anniversary of Brazilian ex-president Juscelino Kubitschek
Units produced: 50 million
Reverse: A face portrait of Kubitschek. Vertically, the inscription "Juscelino Kubitschek's Centenary". In the outer ring, images alluding to the columns of the Alvorada Palace, the Presidential residence in Brasília, the city that he decided would be built.
1 real Release date: 23 September 2005
Occasion: The 40th anniversary of the foundation of the Brazilian Central Bank
Units produced: 40 million
Reverse: Image of the trademark Central Bank building, inspired in the official logo developed for the commemorations. In the outer ring, the inscriptions "Brazilian Central Bank" and "1965 40 YEARS 2005"
1 real Release date: 11 August 2012
Occasion: The Olympic Flag Handover for the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics
Units produced: 2 million
Reverse: The Olympic Flag in a pole above the official logo of the Games of the XXXI Olympiad. In the outer ring, the inscriptions "Olympic Flag Handover" and "London 2012 * Rio 2016"[6]


Original series

10 reais banknote from the old series

In 1994, banknotes were introduced in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 reais. These were followed by 2 reais in 2000 and 20 reais in 2001. On 31 December 2005, BCB discontinued the production of the 1 real banknote, but it remains legal tender.

Real series
Value Dimensions Description
Obverse Reverse
1 real 140 mm × 65 mm The Republic's Effigy,
portrayed as a bust
Sapphire-spangled emerald hummingbird (Amazilia lactea)
2 reais Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
5 reais Great egret (Casmerodius albus)
10 reais Green-winged macaw (Ara chlorepterus)
20 reais Golden lion tamarin (Mico-Leão dourado, Leontopithecus rosalia)
50 reais Jaguar (Onça pintada, Panthera onca)
100 reais Dusky Grouper (Epinephelus marginatus)

Polymer 10 real note

The polymer banknote, with Cabral's images.

In April 2000, in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Portuguese arrival on Brazilian shores, the Brazilian Central Bank released a polymer 10 real banknote that circulates along with the other banknotes above. The Brazilian Mint printed 250 million of these notes, which at the time accounted for about half of the 10 real banknotes in circulation.

This note contains a more complex design, as follows:



A stylized map of Brazil with photographs depicting the ethnic variety of the Brazilian people (white, black, and amerindian).

New series

On 3 February 2010, the Central Bank of Brazil announced a new series of the real banknotes which would begin to be released in April 2010. The new design added security enhancements in an attempt to reduce counterfeiting. The notes have different sizes according to their values to help vision-impaired people. The changes were made reflecting the growth of the Brazilian economy and the need for a stronger and safer currency. The new banknotes began to enter circulation in December 2010, coexisting with the older ones.[7][8]

2010, 2011, and 2012 series
Image Value Dimensions Main color Description Date of first issue Watermark
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse
2 reais 121 mm × 65 mm Dark blue Wave pattern; head of República Sea turtle 29 July 2013 Sea turtle and electrotype 2
5 reais 128 mm x 65 mm Purple Plants; head of República Great egret 29 July 2013 Great egret and electrotype 5
10 reais 135 mm × 65 mm Red Plants; head of República Arara (macaw) 23 July 2012 Macaw and electrotype 10
20 reais 142 mm × 65 mm Yellow Plants; head of República Mico-Leão-Dourado (golden lion tamarin, Leontopithecus rosalia) 23 July 2012 Golden lion tamarin and electrotype 20
50 reais 149 mm × 70 mm Brown Jungle plants; head of República Onça pintada (jaguar, Panthera onca) 13 December 2010 Jaguar and electrotype 50
100 reais 156 mm × 70 mm Light blue Underwater plants and starfish; head of República; coral Dusky Grouper (Epinephelus marginatus); coral 13 December 2010 Dusky Grouper and electrotype 100

"God Be Praised" controversy

Since 1986, Brazilian bank notes contain the words “Deus Seja Louvado” (God Be Praised). In 2012, a federal prosecutor from São Paulo sought a court order to force the central bank to replace the nation's entire supply of paper currency with bills that do not display these words, arguing that Brazil is a secular state and that this phrase violates the rights of non-Christians and nonbelievers. The Bank responded by stating that the preamble to the Brazilian constitution explicitly states that the democracy was formed “under the protection of God”, and that the state, “not being atheist, anticlerical or antireligious, can legitimately make a reference to the existence of a higher being, a divinity, as long as, in doing so, it does not make an allusion to a specific religious doctrine.”[9]

Current Real exchange rates

Current BRL exchange rates

See also


  1. Brazil new 50- and 100-real notes confirmed Retrieved 2011-10-20.
  2. Rodrigues, Lorenna (3 February 2010). "BC lança nova família de notas do real em tamanhos diferentes" [Central Bank to launch new banknote series]. Folha de S.Paulo (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2010-02-03.
  3. "Origem do Cifrão". Casa de Moeda do Brasil.
  4. "C0 Controls and Basic Latin Range: 0000–007F" (PDF). The Unicode Standard, Version 6.2. The Unicode Consortium. Retrieved 19 September 2013.Unicode 0024 DOLLAR SIGN= milréis, escudo, used for many peso currencies in Latin America and elsewhere, glyph may have one or two vertical bars
  6. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 June 2013. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
  7. Cucolo, Eduardo (13 December 2010). "Novas cédulas do real devem chegar a todas as capitais em até 48 horas" [New Real banknotes should arrive within 48 hours in all capitals]. Folha de S.Paulo (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2010-12-14.
  8. Brazil introduces new 10- and 20-real banknotes on 23 July 2012 Retrieved 2012-07-24.
  9. "Brazil’s Banknotes Still Praise God, for Now", International Herald Tribune, 13 November 2012, see:
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