Israeli new shekel

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Israeli new shekel
שקל חדש (Hebrew)
شيقل جديد (Arabic)
Nis 1 sheqel.png
1 new shekel coin
ISO 4217 code ILS
Central bank Bank of Israel
User(s)  Israel
 Palestinian Authority[1]
Inflation -1% (2015)
 Source The World Factbook, 2015
1100 agora
Plural shekels
agora agoras
Coins 10 agora, NIS ½, 1, 2, 5, 10
Banknotes NIS 20, 50, 100, 200

The new shekel (/ˈʃɛkəl/; Hebrew: About this sound שֶׁקֶל חָדָשׁ , Sheqel H̱adash, abbrש״ח; Arabic: شيقل جديد‎‎, shēqel jadīd, abbrش.ج; sign: ; code: ILS),[2] informally the shekel and formerly known as the New Israeli Sheqel (NIS),[3] is the currency of the State of Israel and also used as legal tender in the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The new shekel is divided into 100 agoras or agorot. It has been in use since 1 January 1986, when it replaced the hyperinflated Israeli shekel (now usually known as the "old shekel") at a ratio of 1000:1.


The origin of the name "shekel" is from the ancient biblical Israeli currency by the same name.

With the issuing of the third series of the currency in 2014, the Bank of Israel has adopted the standard English spelling shekel and plural shekels for the currency.[2] Previously, the Bank had formally used the Hebrew transcriptions sheqel and sheqalim (from שְׁקָלִים).[3]

The currency sign for the new shekel 〈  〉 is a combination of the first Hebrew letters of the words shekel (ש) and ẖadash (ח). According to the standard Hebrew keyboard (SI 1452), it must be typed as AltGr-A: the letter ש appears on the same key in regular Hebrew mode. However, in Windows XP, it can be typed on the default Hebrew keyboard by pressing AltGr-4, while Shift-4 produces the dollar sign. The sign, however, does not appear on most keyboards even in Israel and is relatively rarely used. Instead, in English, Hebrew, and Arabic, it is more commonly referenced by its initials: NIS, "Shah" (ש"ח), and "ŠǦ" (ش.ج), respectively.


The Israeli pound and its successor, the old shekel, experienced frequent devaluations against the US dollar and other foreign currencies during the 1960s and '70s. This trend culminated in the old shekel experiencing hyperinflation in the early 1980s. After inflation was contained as a result of the 1985 Economic Stabilization Plan, the new shekel was introduced, replacing the old shekel on 1 January 1986 at a rate of IS 1,000 to NIS 1.

Since the economic crisis of the 1980s and the subsequent introduction of the new shekel, the Bank of Israel and the government of Israel have maintained much more careful and conservative fiscal and monetary policies, and have gradually introduced various market-based economic reforms. In addition, the signing of free trade agreements helped the Israeli economy become more competitive, while heavy investment in its industrial and scientific base allowed the country to take advantage of opportunities associated with the rise of the global knowledge economy, thus greatly increasing exports and opening new markets for its products and services. As a result of these factors, inflation has been relatively low and the country now maintains a positive balance of payments, with a current account surplus equivalent to about 3% of its GDP in 2010. Consequently, its currency has strengthened considerably, rising approximately 20% in value relative to the US dollar in the 2000s decade, thereby reversing the trend of historical weakness the Israeli currency exhibited in the decades prior.

Since 1 January 2003, the new shekel has been a freely convertible currency. Since 7 May 2006, new shekel derivative trading has also been available on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.[4] This makes the new shekel one of only twenty or so world currencies for which there are widely available currency futures contracts in the foreign exchange market. It is also a currency that can be exchanged by consumers in many parts of the world.[5][6]

On 26 May 2008, CLS Bank International announced that it would settle payment instructions in new shekels, making the currency fully convertible.[7]


In 1985, coins in denominations of 1, 5, and 10 agora and NIS ½ and 1 were introduced.[8] In 1990, NIS 5 coins were introduced,[9] followed by NIS 10 coins in 1995.[10] Production of 1 agora pieces ceased in 1990, too, and they were removed from circulation on 1 April 1991.[citation needed] An NIS 2 coin was introduced on 9 December 2007.[11] The 5 agora coin, last minted in 2006, was removed from circulation on 1 January 2008.[12]

In April 2011, it was reported that new coins would be minted that would use less metal and thus lower costs. Counterfeiting would also be harder.[13] The Bank of Israel is considering dropping the word "new" on the planned coins series. If approved, this would be the first replacement of all coins since the introduction of the new shekel coins in September 1985.[14]

The coins are minted by the Korea Minting and Security Printing Corporation (KOMSCO).[15]

Circulation coins of the new shekel are:

Shekel coin series
Value Technical parameters Description Date of
Diameter Thickness Mass Composition Edge Obverse Reverse issue withdrawal
1 agora 17 mm 1.2 mm 2 g Aluminium bronze
92% copper
6% aluminium
2% nickel
Smooth Ancient galley, the state emblem, "Israel" in Hebrew, Arabic and English Value, date 4 September 1985 1 April 1991
5 agora 19.5 mm 1.3 mm 3 g Smooth Replica of a coin from the fourth year of the war of the Jews against Rome depicting a lulav between two etrogim, the state emblem, "Israel" in Hebrew, Arabic and English 1 January 2008
10 agora 22 mm 1.5 mm 4 g Smooth Replica of a coin issued by Antigonus II Mattathias with the seven-branched candelabrum, the state emblem, "Israel" in Hebrew, Arabic and English Current
NIS ½ 26 mm 1.6 mm 6.5 g Smooth Lyre, the state emblem Value, date, "Israel" in Hebrew, Arabic and English Current
NIS 1 18 mm 1.8 mm 4 g Cupronickel
75% copper
25% nickel[16]
Smooth Lily, "Yehud" in ancient Hebrew, the state emblem Value, date, "Israel" in Hebrew, Arabic and English 4 September 1985 Current
NIS 2 21.6 mm 2.3 mm 5.7 g Nickel bonded steel Smooth with 4 regions of grooves Two cornucopia, the state emblem 9 December 2007 Current
NIS 5 24 mm 2.4 mm 8.2 g Cupronickel
75% copper
25% nickel
12 sides Capital of column, the state emblem 2 January 1990 Current
NIS 10 23 mm
Core: 16 mm
2.2 mm 7 g Ring: Nickel bonded steel
Center: Aureate bonded bronze
Reeded Palm tree with seven leaves and two baskets with dates, the state emblem, the words "for the redemption of Zion" in ancient and modern Hebrew alphabet Value, date, "Israel" in Hebrew, Arabic and English 7 February 1995 Current
For table standards, see the coin specification table.


Beginning on 4 September 1985, banknotes were introduced in denominations of NIS 5, 10, and 50. An NIS 1 note followed on 8 May 1986 and the NIS 20 note issued on 12 April 1988 completed the family.[17] The NIS 1, 5 and 10 notes used the same basic designs as the earlier IS 1000, 5000, and 10 000 notes but with the denominations altered.

In 1986, NIS 100 notes were introduced, followed by NIS 200 notes in 1991. The NIS 1, 5 and 10 notes were later replaced by coins. A plan to issue an NIS 500 banknote, carrying the portrait of Yitzhak Rabin, was announced shortly after Rabin's assassination in 1995. However, due to low inflation rates, there was no need for such a banknote and it was never issued.[18] In February 2008, the Bank of Israel announced that the planning of an entirely new series of banknotes has started and that the new series, to be issued in 2010, will most probably include a NIS 500 banknote as well.[citation needed] Though still not decided officially, the new series is likely to consist of polymer notes only. In December 2009, the Bank of Israel announced a new series to be issued in 2012, which would bear the images of Theodor Herzl, David Ben-Gurion, Menachem Begin, and Yitzhak Rabin. The plan to issue an NIS 500 note was officially abandoned.[19] The announcement was publicly criticized and, a few days later, the governor of the Bank of Israel announced that the issue be reconsidered.[20]

Second series of the new shekel
Value Dimensions Colour Obverse Reverse
NIS 20 71x 138 mm Green Moshe Sharett Jewish volunteers in World War II; a watchtower, commemorating tower and stockade settlements
NIS 50 Purple Shmuel Yosef Agnon Agnon's notebook, pen and glasses, Jerusalem and the Temple Mount
NIS 100 Brown Yitzhak Ben-Zvi Peki'in Synagogue
NIS 200 Red Zalman Shazar a street in Safed and text from Shazar's essay about Safed

The NIS 20 banknote is the first, as of April 2008, to be made of polypropylene, a polymer substrate, which is superior to the current paper note with a circulation life of a few months only. The polymer note is printed by Orell Füssli Security Printing of Zürich, Switzerland. 1.8 million of the new banknotes were printed with the legend "60 Years of the State of Israel" in Hebrew in red ink.

The committee proposed that the new series would bear the portraits of prominent Hebrew poets, among them Rachel, Shaul Tchernichovsky, Leah Goldberg and Nathan Alterman. In December 2010, it was announced that the series would feature portraits of Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin, and Rachel and Shmuel Yosef Agnon.[21] When Begin's family opposed the decision, the committee's original proposal was readopted.[22]

On 14 November 2012, the Bank of Israel announced that the new series of banknotes is in the final stages of design. The first of the new banknotes to begin circulation was in the NIS 50 denomination on 16 September 2014,[23] followed by the NIS 200 note on 23 December 2015.[24] The other two denominations, NIS 20 and 100, had been expected to be issued in the beginning of 2016.[25][26][27][28]

Third Series of the New Shekel
Value Dimensions Colour Obverse Reverse
NIS 20 129 x 71 mm Red Rachel Bluwstein
NIS 50 136 x 71 mm Green Shaul Tchernichovsky; the poem Oh, My Land, My Homeland in microprinting; Citrus tree and its fruits in the background Capital of a Corinthian column; Segment from the poem I Believe
NIS 100 143 x 71 mm Orange Leah Goldberg
NIS 200 150 x 71 mm Blue Nathan Alterman; the poem Eternal Meeting in microprinting; Fall leaves in the background Moonlit flora; Segment from the poem Morning Song


Current ILS exchange rates

See also[edit]


  1. ^ According to Article 4 of the 1994 Paris Protocol The Protocol allows the Palestinian Authority to adopt additional currencies. In the West Bank the Jordanian dinar is widely accepted and in the Gaza Strip the Egyptian pound is often used.
  2. ^ a b "Third Series of the New Shekel", Currency, Bank of Israel .
  3. ^ a b "Second Series of the New Shekel", Currency, Bank of Israel .
  4. ^ "CME to Launch Foreign Exchange Contract on Israeli Shekel" (Press release). Chicago Mercantile Exchange. 6 April 2006. 
  5. ^ Israelis can soon travel the world with shekels in their pockets Haaretz
  6. ^ shekel begins trading on global markets Jerusalem Post
  7. ^ CLS Press Release (26 May 2008). "CLS Bank live with Israeli shekel and Mexican Peso". 
  8. ^ "About the Agora and New Shekel Series". Banknotes and Coins Catalog. Bank of Israel. Retrieved 26 December 2007. 
  9. ^ "5 NEW SHEQALIM". Banknotes and Coins Catalog. The Bank of Israel. Retrieved 26 December 2007. 
  10. ^ "10 NEW SHEQALIM". Banknotes and Coins Catalog. The Bank of Israel. Retrieved 26 December 2007. 
  11. ^ "The new NIS 2 coin" (Press release). The Bank of Israel. 8 July 2007. Retrieved 26 December 2007. 
  12. ^ "Abolishment of the 5 agora coin." (in Hebrew). The Bank of Israel. 1 January 2008. Retrieved 1 January 2008. 
  13. ^ Tomer Avital's report in Calcalist, 21 April 2011 (Hebrew)
  14. ^ Gad Lior's report in Ynet, 21 April 2011
  15. ^ Israeli new shekel conversion
  16. ^ Note that nickel-clad steel 1 new sheqalim coins were issued in 1994 and 1995
  17. ^ Linzmayer, Owen (2012). "Israel". The Banknote Book. San Francisco, CA: 
  18. ^ "The 500 NIS banknote that was never released (Obverse)". 
  19. ^ Motti Basok's report in Haaretz, 17 December 2009 (Hebrew); Keren Marziano's report, Channel Two News, 16 December 2009 (Hebrew)
  20. ^ Press release, Bank of Israel, 23 December 2009
  21. ^ Press release, Bank of Israel, 19 Dec 2009
  22. ^ Press release, Bank of Israel, 10 March 2011
  23. ^ השטר החדש הושק: "יהי קשה לזייף שטרות" [The new banknote was launched: "It will be difficult to counterfeit banknotes"] (in Hebrew). ynet. 10 September 2014. Retrieved 10 September 2014. 
  24. ^ "Israel's new NIS 200 note enters circulation today". Globes. 23 December 2015. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  25. ^ Press release, Bank of Israel: Information on the new series of banknotes 14 November 2012
  26. ^ Press release by the Bank of Israel: Images and descriptions on the new series of Israeli new shekel banknotes Bank of Israel ( 28 April 2013. Retrieved on 2013-05-01.
  27. ^ BoI to issue new NIS 50 note in September Globes ( April 27, 2014. Retrieved on 2014-05-19.
  28. ^ Website of the new banknotes in Israel

External links[edit]