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Currency in Spain

Money, Taxes & Tipping

As from 1st January 1999, the national currency of Spain is the euro, and euro coins and notes actually came into circulation on 1st January 2002. Coins come in denominations of 1 and 2 euros and 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 euro cents. Notes come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros. Euros issued in other European countries are valid in Spain, and vice versa.

It is important to be aware of the way numbers are written in Spain: decimals come after a comma (e.g. 60,35 euros = 60 euros and 35 cents) and thousands come before a point (e.g. año 2.002 = the year two thousand and two)

Traveller's cheques are hardly accepted at all, but there are no problems with credit cards in shops, restaurants, gas or petrol stations and hotels. ATM's (Automatic Teller Machines or cash dispensers) are very common (more than 45,000 in Spain!).

Exchange facilities are available at Barajas airport, most banks and also along central streets like Gran Vía. Many visitors to Spain have commented on the advantage of bringing debit cards rather than credit cards, since the exchange rate is generally much better and commissions lower. However, it would be prudent to check this with your bank before travelling.

There are two different tax rates in Spain - 7% and 16%. You will pay 7% tax on your hotel and restaurant bills, as well as other items considered "essential". This tax is not refundable.

Most physical items purchased in shops will be taxed at the 16% rate. If you are from outside the European Union, and have spent more than 90.15 euros in a participating establishment, this tax can be reclaimed. Make sure you obtain a proper invoice ("una factura"), to be stamped by the Customs Officer at the airport when leaving the country. The banks at the airport should then be able to refund the tax specified on this stamped invoice. Check out other tax refund possibilities here.

Tourists are allowed to take up to 6000 euros out of the country - anything above this amount must be declared.

At almost all restaurants, service is included, but it is common practice to leave a tip or around 10%, as it is with taxi drivers (depending on how you liked the driving!). Cinemas and theatres will have staff show you to your seat - here a 50 cents or 1 euro coin is the norm.

Tipping is not  obligatory anywhere, but much less in bars or cafeterias. However, if you leave a small tip it shows your appreciation of the service - a good rule of thumb here is 10 to 20 cents per round of drinks. Never leave tips in pubs or discotheques. A tip of 1 euro may be used in many other occasions, such as with hotel porters.

Please use the links to the left to find out all you need to know for your visit to Madrid.


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