Banknotes of the Romanian leu

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Since 1867 there have been four successive currencies in Romania known as the leu (plural lei). This article details the banknotes denominated in the leu and its subdivision the ban since 1917, with images.

Banknotes of the first leu (ROL)[edit]

1877 issue[edit]

1877 Bilet Hypothecar Series
Image Value Dimensions Main Colour Description Date of
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse printing issue withdrawal
5 L Blue 1877 12 June 1877
10 L
20 L
50 L
100 L
500 L
These images are to scale at 0.7 pixels per millimetre. For table standards, see the banknote specification table.

1909-1916 issue[edit]

1909-1916 Series
Image Value Dimensions Main Colour Description Date of
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse printing issue
1 leu 1915 obverse.jpg 1 leu 1915 reverse.jpg 1 L
2 L
5 L
20 lei 1920 obverse.jpg 20 lei 1920 reverse.jpg 20 L
100 L
500 L
1000 L
These images are to scale at 0.7 pixels per millimetre. For table standards, see the banknote specification table.

German occupation WWI issue[edit]

1917 German Occupation Series
Image Value Dimensions Main Colour Description Date of
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse printing issue withdrawal
25 bani BGR 1917 obverse.jpg 25 bani BGR 1917 reverse.jpg 25 b 1917 1917
50 bani BGR 1917 obverse.jpg 50 bani BGR 1917 reverse.jpg 50 b
1 leu BGR 1917 obverse.jpg 1 leu BGR 1917 reverse.jpg 1 L
2 L
5 L
20 L
100 L
1000 L
These images are to scale at 0.7 pixels per millimetre. For table standards, see the banknote specification table.

1917 issue ("paper coins")[edit]

Issued in Iaşi, during World War I by the Ministry of Finance, as war money. The banknotes represent the ban (pl. bani).

1917 Series
Image Value Dimensions Main Colour Description Date of
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse printing issue
ROM-69-Emergency WWI-10 Bani (1917).jpg
ROM-69-Emergency WWI-10 Bani (1917).jpg
10 b 33 × 44 mm green King Ferdinand Coat of arms 1917
ROM-70-Emergency WWI-25 Bani (1917).jpg
ROM-70-Emergency WWI-25 Bani (1917).jpg
25 b 39 × 51 mm green, yellow King Ferdinand Coat of arms 1917
ROM-71-Emergency WWI-50 Bani (1917).jpg
ROM-71-Emergency WWI-50 Bani (1917).jpg
50 b 45 × 60 mm green, orange King Ferdinand Coat of arms 1917


1920 issue[edit]

1920 Series
Image Value Dimensions Main Colour Description Date of
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse printing issue
1 leu 1920 avers.jpg 1 leu 1920 revers.jpg 1 L 78 × 55 blue industrial landscape, value, maid Coat of arms, Capitoline Wolf, Decebal, Trajan 1920 17 July 1920
2 lei 1920 avers.jpg 2 lei 1920 revers.jpg 2 L 104 × 68 blue maid, value, vulture Coat of arms, two Romanian soldiers
These images are to scale at 0.7 pixels per millimetre. For table standards, see the banknote specification table.

1934–1947 issue[edit]

The 5,000, 10,000, 100,000 (1946), 1,000,000, and 5,000,000 lei banknotes from the 1943-1947 series had the left edge wavy.

1922–1947 Series
Image Value Dimensions Main Colour Description Date of printing and issue
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse Watermark
500 lei 1922 - 1941 avers.jpg 500 lei 1922 - 1941 revers.jpg 500 L 157 × 86 brown Romanian peasant women, the small coat of arms, value Peleş Castle continuous rows BNR 1934–1942
1000 lei 1928 - 1939 avers.jpg 1000 lei 1928 - 1939 revers.jpg 1,000 L 183 × 104 brown, green Romanian peasant women, value Romanian peasant women King Carol II 1936–1940
1000 lei 1943 avers.jpg 1000 lei 1943 revers.jpg green, purple Nerva Traian 1941–1945
2000 lei 1941 avers.jpg 2000 lei 1941 revers.jpg 2,000 L 201 × 113 brown Romanian peasant women, value Romanian peasant women, the middle coat of arms, industrial landscape, Peleş Castle (in the background) Nerva Traian 1941
2000 lei 1944 avers.jpg 2000 lei 1944 revers.jpg continuous rows BNR 1943–1945
5000 lei 1943 avers.jpg 5000 lei 1943 revers.jpg 5,000 L 166 × 91 blue Decebal, Nerva Traian, the middle coat of arms, industrial, urban and rural landscape Nerva Traian 1943
5000 lei 1945 avers.jpg 5000 lei 1945 revers.jpg continuous rows BNR 1945
10000 lei 1946 avers.jpg 10000 lei 1946 revers.jpg 10,000 L 194 × 107 brown, pink Romanian peasant women, the middle coat of arms, value Romanian peasant women, the middle coat of arms continuous rows BNR 1945–1946
100000 lei 1946 avers.jpg 100000 lei 1946 revers.jpg 100,000 L 187 × 90 blue, green Romanian peasant women, value Romanian peasant women, value continuous rows BNR 1946
100000 lei 1947 avers.jpg 100000 lei 1947 revers.jpg 100,000 L 182 × 88 pink, orange Decebal, Nerva Traian, value Romanian peasants, the middle coat of arms, value continuous rows BNR 1947
1000000 lei 1947 avers.jpg 1000000 lei 1947 revers.jpg 1,000,000 L 190 × 90 green, blue Decebal, Nerva Traian, value Romanian peasants, the middle coat of arms, value continuous rows BNR 1947
5 milioane lei 1947 obverse.jpg 5 milioane lei 1947 reverse.jpg 5,000,000 L 205x105 yellow, brown Capitoline Wolf, value Romanian peasants, value 1947
These images are to scale at 0.7 pixels per millimetre. For table standards, see the banknote specification table.

Red Army 1944 issue[edit]

1944 Red Army Occupation Series
Image Value Dimensions Main Colour Description Date of
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse printing issue withdrawal
5 L 115 x 60 mm Blue 1944 1944 1 October 1944
10 L 160 x 80 mm Brown
20 L 170 x 85 mm Blue
100 L 186 x 100 mm Brown-olive
500 L 195 x 104 mm Brown
1000 L 200 x 105 mm Red
5000 L 205 x 102 mm Blue
These images are to scale at 0.7 pixels per millimetre. For table standards, see the banknote specification table.

Banknotes of the second leu[edit]

Kingdom of Romania[edit]

1947 Series
Image Value Dimensions Main Colour Description Date of
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse issue withdrawal lapse
20 lei 1947 obverse.jpg 20 lei 1947 reverse.jpg 20 L Trajan and Decebal 15 August 1947 30 January 1952 1 February 1952
100 lei 1947 obverse.jpg 100 lei 1947 reverse.jpg 100 L Brown three workers holding a hammer, a bunch of wheat and a torch "Romania"
500 L
1000 lei 1948 obverse.jpg 1000 lei 1948 reverse.jpg 1000 L Coat of arms of the People's Republic of Romania
These images are to scale at 0.7 pixels per millimetre. For table standards, see the banknote specification table.

People's Republic of Romania[edit]

1948 Series
Image Value Dimensions Main Colour Description Date of
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse issue withdrawal lapse
20 lei (1950) - front.jpg 20 lei (1950) - reverse.jpg 20 L ×  mm Brown, green maiden Coat of arms 15 October 1948 30 January 1952 1 February 1952
500 lei 1949 obverse.jpg 500 lei 1949 reverse.jpg 500 L Red Horea, Cloșca and Crișan Factory
1000 lei 1950 obverse.jpg 1000 lei 1950 reverse.jpg 1000 L Blue Nicolae Bălcescu River natural scene
These images are to scale at 0.7 pixels per millimetre. For table standards, see the banknote specification table.

Banknotes of the third leu (ROL)[edit]

1952 issue[edit]

1952 Series
Image Value Dimensions Main Colour Description Date of
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse printing issue withdrawal
ROL 1 1952 obverse.jpg ROL 1 1952 reverse.jpg 1 L 118 × 57 mm Brown, yellow Value Coat of arms January 1952 28 January 1952 16 April 1970
ROL 3 1952 obverse.jpg ROL 3 1952 reverse.jpg 3 L 122 × 61 mm Dark brown, green Value Coat of arms
ROL 5 1952 obverse.jpg ROL 5 1952 reverse.jpg 5 L 122 × 65 mm Dark blue, yellow Maid Dam construction scene
ROL 10 1952 obverse.jpg ROL 10 1952 reverse.jpg 10 L 135 × 73 mm Red, green Furnace worker Quarry scene
25 lei 1952 obverse.jpg 25 lei 1952 reverse.jpg 25 L 148 × 80 mm Dark brown, violet Tudor Vladimirescu Harvesting scene
ROL 100 1952 obverse.jpg ROL 100 1952 reverse.jpg 100 L 168 × 90 mm Blue Nicolae Bălcescu Casa Scânteii
These images are to scale at 0.7 pixels per millimetre. For table standards, see the banknote specification table.

1966 issue[edit]

1966 Series
Image Value Dimensions Main colour Description Date of
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse printing issue withdrawal
ROL 1 1966 obverse.jpg ROL 1 1966 reverse.jpg 1 L 103 × 52 mm Brown, yellow Coat of arms Value 1966 1 November 1966 1 January 1997 (no longer in circulation since 1970-1972)
ROL 3 1966 obverse.jpg ROL 3 1966 reverse.jpg 3 L 114 × 57 mm Dark blue Coat of arms Value
ROL 5 1966 obverse.jpg ROL 5 1966 reverse.jpg 5 L 124 × 62 mm Light brown Coat of arms Port 1 January 1997 (no longer in circulation since 1982-1984)
ROL 10 1966 obverse.jpg ROL 10 1966 reverse.jpg 10 L 131 × 65 mm Violet Coat of arms Harvesting scene 1990-1992
ROL 25 1966 obverse.jpg ROL 25 1966 reverse.jpg 25 L 140 × 70 mm Dark green Tudor Vladimirescu Factory (Coke ovens of the Hunedoara Steelworks)
ROL 50 1966 obverse.jpg ROL 50 1966 reverse.jpg 50 L 145 × 72 mm Green Alexandru Ioan Cuza Palace of Culture, Iaşi
ROL 100 1966 obverse.jpg ROL 100 1966 reverse.jpg 100 L 153 × 75 mm Blue Nicolae Bălcescu Romanian Athenaeum
These images are to scale at 0.7 pixels per millimetre. For table standards, see the banknote specification table.

1991–1992 issue[edit]

1991 Series
Image Value Dimensions Main Colour Description Date of
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse printing withdrawal
ROL 500 1991 obverse.jpg ROL 500 1991 reverse.jpg 500 L 156 × 74 mm Brown Constantin Brâncuși Constantin Brâncuși January 1991 1992
April 1991
ROL 1000 1991 obverse.jpg ROL 1000 1991 reverse.jpg 1,000 L 167 × 76 mm Red, green Mihai Eminescu Putna Monastery September 1991 1 April 1999
ROL 5000 1992 obverse.jpg ROL 5000 1992 reverse.jpg 5,000 L 172 × 76 mm Violet Avram Iancu Densuş Church, Dacian Draco, Gate of Alba Iulia Citadel March 1992
These images are to scale at 0.7 pixels per millimetre. For table standards, see the banknote specification table.

1992–1994 issue[edit]

1992 Series
Image Value Dimensions Main Colour Description Date of
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse printing withdrawal
ROL 200 1992 obverse.jpg ROL 200 1992 reverse.jpg 200 L 155 × 76 mm Light brown Grigore Antipa Danube Delta December 1992 1993
ROL 500 1992 obverse.jpg ROL 500 1992 reverse.jpg 500 L 160 × 76 mm Green Constantin Brâncuși Sculptures by Brâncuși December 1992 16 December 1999
ROL 1000 1993 obverse.jpg ROL 1000 1993 reverse.jpg 1,000 L 167 × 76 mm Red, green Mihai Eminescu Putna Monastery May 1993 1 April 1999
5000 lei 1993 obverse.jpg 5000 lei 1993 reverse.jpg 5,000 L 172 × 76 mm Violet Avram Iancu Densuş Church, Dacian Draco, Gate of Alba Iulia Citadel May 1993
ROL 10000 1994 obverse.jpg ROL 10000 1994 reverse.jpg 10,000 L 180 × 76 mm Light red Nicolae Iorga Şuţu Palace February 1994 16 December 2000
These images are to scale at 0.7 pixels per millimetre. For table standards, see the banknote specification table.

1996–2000 issue[edit]

1996 Series - paper
Image Value Dimensions Main Colour Description Date of
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse printing issue withdrawal lapse
ROL 1000 1998 obverse.jpg ROL 1000 1998 reverse.jpg 1,000 L 140 × 61 mm Blue Mihai Eminescu Ruins of Histria, Linden tree flowers 1998 1 June 1998 17 December 2001 1 February 2002
5000 lei 1998 obverse.jpg 5000 lei 1998 reverse.jpg 5,000 L 145 × 64 mm Orange Lucian Blaga Crucifix 17 June 2002 1 October 2002
ROL 10000 1999 obverse.jpg ROL 10000 1999 reverse.jpg 10,000 L 150 × 67 mm Green Nicolae Iorga, Milkweed gentian Cathedral of Curtea de Argeş 1999 15 July 1999 16 December 2002 1 July 2003
50000 lei 1996 obverse.jpg 50000 lei 1996 reverse.jpg 50,000 L 155 × 70 mm Violet George Enescu, Carnation, irregular shape with safety feature The Sphinx of Bucegi Mountains, musical chord from "Oedip King" 1996 20 November 1996
ROL 50000 2000 obverse.jpg ROL 50000 2000 reverse.jpg George Enescu, Carnation, shape of a violin 2000 6 March 2000 1 June 2004 1 January 2005
ROL 100000 1998 obverse.jpg ROL 100000 1998 reverse.jpg 100,000 L 160 × 73 mm Red Nicolae Grigorescu, Marshmallow traditional house from Oltenia, scene from the "Rodica" painting 1998 1 June 1998
These images are to scale at 0.7 pixels per millimetre. For table standards, see the banknote specification table.

1999–2003 issue[edit]

1999 Series - polymer
Image Value Dimensions Main Colour Description Date of
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse printing issue withdrawal lapse
ROL 2000 1999 obverse.jpg ROL 2000 1999 reverse.jpg 2,000 L 143 × 63 mm Blue, yellow, red Solar eclipse of August 11, 1999 Map of Romania 1999 2 August 1999 30 November 2004 31 March 2005
ROL 10000 2000 obverse.jpg ROL 10000 2000 reverse.jpg 10,000 L 150 × 67 mm Green Nicolae Iorga, Milkweed gentian Cathedral of Curtea de Argeş 2000 18 September 2000 1 January 2007 Indefinite
ROL 50000 2001 obverse.jpg ROL 50000 2001 reverse.jpg 50,000 L 155 × 70 mm Violet George Enescu, Carnation Romanian Athenaeum, musical chord from "Oedip King" 2001 14 December 2001
ROL 100000 2001 obverse.jpg ROL 100000 2001 reverse.jpg 100,000 L 160 × 73 mm Orange, light red Nicolae Grigorescu, Marshmallow traditional house from Oltenia, scene from the "Rodica" painting 12 November 2001
ROL 500000 2000 obverse.jpg ROL 500000 2000 reverse.jpg 500,000 L 165 × 76 mm Yellow Aurel Vlaicu, Edelweiss Vlaicu II airplane design 2000 23 October 2000
ROL 1000000 2003 obverse.jpg ROL 1000000 2003 reverse.jpg 1,000,000 L 168 × 78 mm Blue Ion Luca Caragiale, Sweet violet National Theatre of Bucharest (old building) 2003 5 December 2003
These images are to scale at 0.7 pixels per millimetre. For table standards, see the banknote specification table.

A 500 lei coin and the 2,000 lei note shown above were made in order to celebrate the 1999 total solar eclipse. Whereas the 500 lei coin is currently very rare, becoming a prized collector's item, the 2,000 lei note was quite popular, being taken out of circulation in 2004 (a long time after the 1,000 and 5,000 lei bills were replaced by coins).

Banknotes of the fourth leu (RON)[edit]

The leu notes issued on 1 July 2005 are of equal size to euro banknotes, so that machines will need less refitting once Romania joins the euro zone. This decision was taken after a lot of debate, and with some opposition, the initial decision being to make them even smaller, similar to the 1966 series. The old leu notes were rather long and fairly uncomfortable to carry.

The design of the notes follows some common guidelines: the obverse shows a flower native to Romania and the portrait of a Romanian cultural personality; the reverse shows a building or a well-known monument. All banknotes are printed on plastic polymer, each in its own colour theme (light green for 1 leu, light purple for 5 lei, light pink and light orange for 10 lei, yellow for 50 lei, blue for 100 lei, dark orange for 200 lei, and light gray for 500 lei). On 14 November 2008 the National Bank of Romania announced the issue of a redesigned 10 lei banknote. The new design employs offset printing in favor of the intaglio printing used in the 2005 series. Also the transparent window will undergo a shape redesign.[1]

Each banknote also features a small transparent window, in the shape of a distinctive item characterising the activity of the pictured personality, a heraldic symbol for Nicolae Iorga, a music key for George Enescu, painting implements for Nicolae Grigorescu, an eagle for flying pioneer Aurel Vlaicu, theater masks for Ion Luca Caragiale, a pen point for Lucian Blaga and an hourglass symbolising poetry and time for Mihai Eminescu. Each banknote has a different texture, to be easily recognised in the pocket or by those with visual impairments.

Note that the 500 lei banknotes see limited usage since they are not dispensed by automated teller machines.

2005 Series
Image Value Size Printing Technique Main Colour Description Date of
Obverse Reverse Dimensions Same size as Obverse Reverse Printing Issue
Romanian 1-Leu bill (front).jpg 1 leu. Romania, 2005 b.jpg 1 L 120 × 62 mm €5 Offset Green Nicolae Iorga, Milkweed gentian Cathedral of Curtea de Argeş 2005-present 1 July 2005
5 lei. Romania, 2005 a.jpg 5 lei. Romania, 2005 b.jpg 5 L 127 × 67 mm €10 Violet George Enescu, Carnation Romanian Athenaeum 2005-present 1 July 2005
10 lei. Romania, 2008 a.jpg 10 lei. Romania, 2008 b.jpg 10 L 133 × 72 mm €20 Intaglio Pink, light red Nicolae Grigorescu, Althaea Traditional house from Oltenia, Nicolae Grigorescu painting Rodica 2005-2007 1 July 2005
2008 10 RON banknote front.jpg 2008 10 RON banknote back.jpg Offset 2008-present 1 December 2008
50 lei. Romania, 2005 a.jpg 50 lei. Romania, 2005 b.jpg 50 L 140 × 77 mm €50 Intaglio Yellow Aurel Vlaicu, Edelweiss Vlaicu II airplane design, eagle head 2005-present 1 July 2005
100 lei. Romania, 2005 a.jpg 100 lei. Romania, 2005 b.jpg 100 L 147 × 82 mm €100 Blue Ion Luca Caragiale, Sweet violet National Theatre of Bucharest (old building), Statue of Ion Luca Caragiale, by Constantin Baraschi 2005-present 1 July 2005
200 lei. Romania, 2006 a.jpg 200 lei. Romania, 2006 b.jpg 200 L 150 × 82 mm None Brown, orange Lucian Blaga, poppies A watermill and the Hamangia Thinker 2006-present 1 December 2006
500 lei. Romania, 2005 a.jpg 500 lei. Romania, 2005 b.jpg 500 L 153 × 82 mm €200 Blue, violet Mihai Eminescu, Tilia Central University Library of Iaşi 2005-present 1 July 2005
These images are to scale at 0.7 pixels per millimetre. For table standards, see the banknote specification table.

References[edit]