Israeli new shekel

Israeli new shekel
Israeli new shekel
שקל חדש (Hebrew)
شيقل جديد (Arabic)
1 shekel coin
1 shekel coin
ISO 4217 code ILS
User(s)  Israel
 Palestinian territories[1]
Inflation 2.6% (2010 est.) 3.3% (2009 est.)
Source The World Factbook, 2007
1/100 agora
Plural shekalim (pronounced shkalim)
agora agorot
Coins 10 agorot, ½, 1, 2, 5, 10 new shekalim
Banknotes 20, 50, 100, 200 new shekalim
Central bank Bank of Israel

The Israeli New Shekel (Hebrew: שקל חדשShekel Ḥadash) (sign: ; acronym: ש״ח and in English NIS; code: ILS) (also spelled sheqel; pl. shekalim pronounced shkalim – שקלים; Arabic: شيكل جديد‎ or شيقل جديد šēkel ǧadīd) is the currency of the State of Israel. The shekel is divided into 100 agorot (אגורות) (sing. agora, אגורה). Denominations made in this currency are marked with the shekel sign, ₪.



The old sheqel suffered from runaway inflation during the economic crisis which occurred in Israel in the early 1980s. After inflation was finally contained by the middle of the decade as a result of the 1985 Economic Stabilization Plan, the new sheqel was introduced, replacing the old sheqel on January 1, 1986, at a rate of 1,000 old sheqalim = 1 new sheqel.

Since January 1, 2003, the sheqel has been a freely convertible currency. Since May 7, 2006, sheqel derivative trading has also been available on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.[2] This makes the sheqel 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.[3][4]

On May 26, 2008, CLS Bank International (CLS Bank) has announced that it will settle payment instructions in Israeli New sheqel, thus making this currency fully convertible.[5]

The currency is not produced in Israel, as the country has no mint. Currently, the coins are minted at Korea Minting and Security Printing Corporation (KOMSCO), the banknote and coin producer of South Korea, while the banknotes are produced in Switzerland.

For a wider history surrounding currency in the region, see British currency in the Middle East.


In 1985, coins in denominations of 1, 5 and 10 agorot, ½ and 1 new sheqel were introduced.[6] In 1990, 5 new sheqalim coins were introduced,[7] followed by 10 new sheqalim in 1995.[8] Production of 1 agora pieces ceased in 1990 too, and they were removed from circulation on April 1, 1991.[citation needed] A 2 new sheqalim coin was introduced on December 9, 2007.[9] The 5 agorot coin, last minted in 2006, was removed from circulation on January 1, 2008.[10]

Circulation coins of the sheqel are:

sheqel 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 September 4, 1985 1 April 1991
5 agorot 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 January 1, 2008
10 agorot 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
½ new sheqel 26 mm 1.6 mm 6.5 g Smooth Lyre, the state emblem Value, date, "Israel" in Hebrew, Arabic and English Current
1 new sheqel 18 mm 1.8 mm 4 g Cupronickel
75% copper
25% nickel[11]
Smooth Lily, "Yehud" in ancient Hebrew, the state emblem Value, date, "Israel" in Hebrew, Arabic and English September 4, 1985 Current
2 new sheqalim 21.6 mm 2.3 mm 5.7 g Nickel bonded steel Smooth with 4 regions of grooves Two cornucopia, the state emblem December 9, 2007 Current
5 new sheqalim 24 mm 2.4 mm 8.2 g Cupronickel
75% copper
25% nickel
12 sides Capital of column, the state emblem January 2, 1990 Current
10 new sheqalim 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 February 7, 1995 Current
For table standards, see the coin specification table.


In September 1985, banknotes were introduced in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 new shkalim. The 1, 5 and 10 new shekel notes used the same basic designs as the earlier 1,000, 5,000 and 10,000 old shekel notes but with the denominations altered.

In 1986, 100 new shekel notes were introduced, followed by 200 new shekel notes in 1991. The 1, 5 and 10 new shekel notes were later replaced by coins. A plan to issue a 500 shekel 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.[12] However, 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 500 shekel 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 Theodore Herzl, David Ben Gurion, Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Rabin. The plan to issue a 500 shekel note was officially abandoned.[13] The announcement was publicly received with criticism, and a few days later, the governor of the Bank of Israel announced that the issue be returned for further discussions. [14] The committee suggested that the new series would include prominent Hebrew poets and poetesses, and named Rachel Bluwstein, Shaul Tchernichovsky, Leah Goldberg and Nathan Alterman as the figures that should appear on the notes. The governor decided to adopt only part of the suggestion, and in December 2010 announced that the series would include Begin, Rabin, Shmuel Yossef Agnon and Rachel Bluwstein.[15] Owing to further criticism and Begin's family reluctance to approve the decision, the governor decided to return to the committee's original proposal, and the Israeli government approved it.[16]

Reports in April 2011 suggest that the Bank of Israel also plans to issue a new series of coins, and adopt designs that would lower expenses by using less metal. In addition, the new series is supposed to make counterfeit harder.[17] The Bank of Israel is also considering to drop the adjective "new" from the currency's name 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.[18]

Notes currently in circulation are:

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

The 20 shekel 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 Fuessli Security Printing of Zürich, Switzerland. 1.8 million of the new banknotes were printed with the writing "60 years [anniversary] of the State of Israel" (in Hebrew), in red ink.



In Hebrew the new shekel is usually abbreviated ש"ח (pronounced shaḥ). The symbol for the new shekel, , is a combination of the first Hebrew letters of the words shekel (ש) and ḥadash (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), however the sign does not appear on the physical keys of most keyboards that are used in Israel and is rare in day-to-day typing. In Arabic, the currency is usually denoted by the abbreviation ش.ج which is the initials of šikel jadīd, the currency's name in Arabic.

Current ILS exchange rates

See also


  1. ^ According to Article 4 of the 1994 Paris Protocol [1]. The Protocol allows the Palestinian Authority to adopt additional currencies. In West Bank the Jordanian dinar is widely accepted and in Gaza Strip the Egyptian pound is often used.
  2. ^ Chicago Mercantile Exchange Press Release (April 6, 2006). "CME to Launch Foreign Exchange Contract on Israeli Sheqel". 
  3. ^ Israelis can soon travel the world with sheqels in their pockets Haaretz
  4. ^ sheqel begins trading on global markets Jerusalem Post
  5. ^ CLS Press Release (May 26, 2008). "CLS Bank live with Israeli sheqel and Mexican Peso". 
  6. ^ "About the Agora and New Sheqel Series". Banknotes and Coins Catalog. Bank of Israel. Retrieved December 26, 2007. 
  7. ^ "5 NEW SHEQALIM". Banknotes and Coins Catalog. The Bank of Israel. Retrieved December 26, 2007. 
  8. ^ "10 NEW SHEQALIM". Banknotes and Coins Catalog. The Bank of Israel. Retrieved December 26, 2007. 
  9. ^ "Press Release:The new NIS 2 coin". The Bank of Israel. July 8, 2007. Retrieved December 26, 2007. 
  10. ^ "Abolishment of the 5 agorot coin." (in Hebrew). The Bank of Israel. January 1, 2008. Retrieved January 1, 2008. 
  11. ^ Note that nickel-clad steel 1 new sheqalim coins were issued in 1994 and 1995
  12. ^ "The 500 NIS banknote that was never released (Obverse)". 
  13. ^ Motti Basok's report in Haaretz, 17 Dec 2009 (Hebrew); Keren Marziano's report, Channel Two News, 16 Dec 2009 (Hebrew)
  14. ^ Press release, Bank of Israel, 23 Dec 2009
  15. ^ Press release, Bank of Israel, 19 Dec, 2009
  16. ^ Press release, Bank of Israel, 10 Mar 2011
  17. ^ Tomer Avital's report in Calcalist, 21 Apr 2011 (Hebrew)
  18. ^ Gad Lior's report in Ynet, 21 Apr 2011

External links

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