Ukraine Currency (Ukrainian Hryvnia History + Facts)

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The Ukrainian hryvnia (UAH) has been the official currency of Ukraine since 1996, replacing the karbovanets. The history of the Ukrainian currency dates back to the 11th-12th century Kyiv hryvnia, which was used in the state Kievan Rus’.

Ukraine Hryvnia

The modern hryvnia was introduced to stabilize the country’s economy after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Since then, the hryvnia has gone through periods of inflation and devaluation but has remained the official currency of Ukraine.

This article delves into the story of the Ukrainian hryvnia, Ukraine’s official currency. We’ll trace its history from pre-independence times to its role in today’s economy, highlighting key facts like its origins, denominations, economic importance, and challenges.

Historical Journey of the Ukrainian Hryvnia

The Ukrainian hryvnia has a long and fascinating history that dates back to the 11th century state named Kievan Rus‘. The hryvnia has undergone many transformations over the centuries to become what it is today.

In this section, we will explore the origins and evolution of the hryvnia, as well as the history of its coins and bills.

History of Coins

The first coins made of gold and silver in Ukraine were produced during the rule of Grand Prince of Kiev Vladimir the Great (Volodymyr the Great) in the 11th century. These coins featured an image of a trident, which was used as a symbol of the princes of Kiev. Over time, the trident became a symbol of Ukrainian statehood and sovereignty.

During the 12th to 14th centuries, Kyiv Rus was weakened by feudal disunity and minted no coins. Silver ingots called hryvnias were mostly used as money in that period.

After a long break, the middle of the 14th century saw a revival of coin circulation. In the 15th century, the hryvnia became the official currency of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which included much of present-day Ukraine.

The hryvnia continued to be used as a currency throughout the centuries, with various denominations and designs. During the reign of Catherine the Great in the 18th century, the hryvnia was replaced by the Russian ruble, which was used until Ukraine gained independence in 1991.

After independence, the National Bank of Ukraine introduced a new currency, the hryvnia, in 1996. The first coins of the new hryvnia were issued in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, and 50 kopiyok, and 1 hryvnia. Today, the hryvnia is the official currency of Ukraine and is used for all transactions within the country.

Coins for the new currency, the hryvnia, were first made in 1992 but weren’t used until September 1996. Initially, they made coins worth 1 to 50 kopiyky. In March 1997, ₴1 coins were introduced. Since 2004, special ₴1 coins were also made.

In October 2012, the National Bank of Ukraine considered removing the 1 and 2 kopiyky coins because they cost too much to make. After 2013, they stopped making 1 and 2 kopiyky coins, but you could still use the ones already in circulation until October 1, 2019. 

On July 1, 2016, there were 12.4 billion coins worth ₴1.4 billion in circulation. On October 1, 2019, 1, 2, and 5 kopiyky coins were no longer legal money, but you could still exchange them at banks.

History of Bills

The first paper money issued in Ukraine was during the period of the Ukrainian People’s Republic in 1917. The 100 karbovanets note was issued in three languages: Ukrainian, Polish, and Yiddish. After the Soviet Union took control of Ukraine, the Soviet ruble became the official currency.

When Ukraine gained independence in 1991, it initially continued to use the Soviet ruble. However, in 1992, the Ukrainian government introduced the karbovanets as its official currency. In 1996, the karbovanets was replaced by the hryvnia, which is still in use today.

In 1996, Ukraine introduced the first series of hryvnia banknotes, including denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, and 20 hryvnias. These banknotes were designed by Ukrainian artists Vasyl Lopata and Borys Maksymov and printed by the Canadian Bank Note Company.

The 1 hryvnia notes were printed in 1992, while the others were printed in 1994 and stored in Canada until they were put into circulation.

There were also 50 and 100 hryvnia notes of the second series in 1996, designed and printed by Britain’s De La Rue. Since 1994, all banknotes have been printed in Ukraine in cooperation with De La Rue.

Higher denominations were introduced later, including 200 hryvnia notes in 2001, 500 hryvnia notes in 2006, and 1000 hryvnia notes in 2019.

The 100 hryvnia notes are common due to their moderate value, and 200 and 500 hryvnia notes are also frequently used as they are dispensed by most Ukrainian ATMs.

In 2016, the NBU paper factory started using flax instead of cotton to produce banknote paper.

In 2019, a 1000 hryvnia banknote was introduced to streamline the number of coins and banknotes in circulation. The 1, 2, 5, and 10 hryvnia banknotes will continue to be legal tender alongside their equivalent coins but will be gradually withdrawn from circulation due to repeated use.

Additionally, in 2019, a revised 50 hryvnia banknote was introduced in December, followed by a revised 200 hryvnia banknote in February 2020, completing the family of notes that began with the 100 hryvnia banknote in 2015.

Inflation and Buying Power of Ukraine Currency

The inflation rate in Ukraine has been a topic of concern for many years. As of November 2023, the inflation rate was at 5.10% and was projected to increase to 5.30% in the coming months (Trading Economics).

Inflation has caused the buying power of Ukraine’s currency, the Ukrainian hryvnia (UAH), to decrease over time. This means that the amount of goods that can be bought with a certain amount of UAH has decreased, making it more expensive to live in Ukraine.

Despite the inflation rate, the cost of living in Ukraine is still relatively low compared to many other countries. According to Numbeo, the cost of living index in Ukraine is 32.51, which is lower than the global average of 100. This means that the cost of living in Ukraine is around 67% lower than the global average.

If you are planning to move to Ukraine or visit the country, it is important to consider the inflation rate and the cost of living. You may need to adjust your budget accordingly to ensure that you can afford the goods and services that you need. 

It is also important to note that the cost of living can vary depending on the city and region that you are in. For example, the cost of living in Kyiv, the capital city of Ukraine, is higher than in other cities in the country.

To make the most of your money in Ukraine, you can consider shopping at local markets and stores, where prices may be lower than at tourist destinations and international chains. You can also look for deals and discounts, especially during sales periods. 

Finally, it is important to be aware of the exchange rate between your home currency and the UAH, as this can affect the amount of money that you have available to spend.

Ukrainian Hryvnia

The official currency of Ukraine is the Ukrainian hryvnia (UAH), which has been in circulation since 1996. The hryvnia is divided into 100 kopiyok, and comes in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500.


The ₴1 note is yellow-blue and features Volodymyr the Great of Kiev on the obverse and Volodymyr I’s Fortress Wall in Kiev on the reverse. 


The ₴2 note is terracotta and depicts Yaroslav the Wise on the obverse and Saint Sophia Cathedral, Kyiv on the reverse. 


The ₴5 note is blue and shows Bohdan Khmelnytsky on the obverse and a church in the village of Subotiv on the reverse. 


10 hyrvnia note

The ₴10 note is crimson and features Ivan Mazepa on the obverse and The Holy Dormition Cathedral of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra on the reverse. 


The ₴20 note is green and displays Ivan Franko on the obverse and Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet on the reverse. 


The ₴50 note is violet and depicts Mykhailo Hrushevskyi on the obverse and the Tsentralna Rada building (“House of the Teacher” in Kyiv) on the reverse. 


The ₴100 note is olive and shows Taras Shevchenko on the obverse and Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv on the reverse. 


The ₴200 note is pink and features Lesya Ukrainka on the obverse and the Entrance Tower of Lutsk Castle on the reverse.


The ₴500 note is brown and depicts Hryhorii Skovoroda on the obverse and National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy on the reverse. 


The ₴1,000 note is blue and showcases Volodymyr Vernadskyi on the obverse and National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine on the reverse.

Currency Usage in Ukraine

If you’re planning a trip to Ukraine, you’ll need to know about the country’s currency. The official currency of Ukraine is the hryvnia (UAH). It is divided into 100 kopiykas. The hryvnia is accepted everywhere in Ukraine, and you can exchange your money at banks, exchange offices, and ATMs.

Is USD accepted in Ukraine?

While the official currency of Ukraine is the hryvnia, you may be wondering if you can use US dollars in Ukraine. The short answer is yes, but it’s not recommended.

While some businesses may accept US dollars, you’ll likely receive a poor exchange rate. It’s best to exchange your dollars for hryvnias at a bank or exchange office.

When exchanging your money, be sure to check the exchange rate and any fees associated with the transaction. Some exchange offices may charge a higher commission or have hidden fees, so it’s important to do your research before exchanging your money.

Overall, it’s best to use the local currency when traveling in Ukraine. Not only will you avoid any potential issues with exchange rates and fees, but you’ll also have an easier time making purchases and getting around.

Exchanging Currency in Ukraine

If you are planning a trip to Ukraine, you might be wondering how to exchange your currency. Here are a few things you need to know before exchanging your currency in Ukraine.

Where can I exchange Ukraine currency?

Exchanging your currency in Ukraine is convenient and offers several accessible options. There are several places where you can exchange your currency in Ukraine, including banks, exchange offices, and hotels.

Banks usually offer the best exchange rates, but they might not be as convenient as exchange offices or hotels. 

Major banks like PrivatBank, Oschadbank, Ukreximbank, Raiffeisen Bank Aval, and Ukrgasbank have a widespread presence, providing secure and competitive exchange rates. These banks typically operate on weekdays, with some branches open on Saturdays. 

You’ll need your passport and a valid ID, and there might be limits on exchange amounts, especially during wartime. Expect a small service fee of around 1-3% per transaction. 

While exchange bureaus are also available, banks are generally more secure and transparent. It’s advisable to carry some Ukrainian hryvnia (UAH) for immediate expenses, compare exchange rates online, and consider exchanging large amounts at banks for better rates. 

When using debit or credit cards for ATM withdrawals, be aware of potential foreign transaction fees and compare costs.

What to know before exchanging currency in Ukraine

Before exchanging your currency in Ukraine, there are a few things you need to know.

First, make sure to check the exchange rate to get the best deal. You can check the exchange rate online or at the bank or exchange office. 

Second, be aware of convenience fees. Some exchange offices or hotels might charge a higher fee for exchanging your currency, so it’s important to compare the fees before making a transaction. 

Third, make sure to bring your passport or ID when exchanging your currency. Most banks and exchange offices require a passport or ID for verification purposes.

If you are traveling to Ukraine, it’s important to exchange your currency for hryvnias upon arrival. You can exchange money at banks, currency exchange offices, and some hotels.

It’s also worth noting that credit cards are not widely accepted in Ukraine, so it’s a good idea to carry cash with you.

Another thing to keep in mind is the exchange rate. The exchange rate in Ukraine can fluctuate, so it’s important to keep an eye on the rate to get the best deal. You can check the exchange rate online or at the bank or exchange office. 

Additionally, be aware of scams. Some exchange offices might offer a higher exchange rate, but they might charge hidden fees or use counterfeit money. It’s important to exchange your currency at a reputable bank or exchange office to avoid scams.

Before exchanging your currency, make sure to check the exchange rate and fees, and bring your passport or ID for verification purposes. Keep an eye on the exchange rate and be aware of scams to avoid any issues.

Choosing Between USD and Ukraine Currency

When traveling to Ukraine, you may be wondering whether to use USD or the local currency, Ukrainian hryvnia (UAH). Here are some factors to consider when making your decision.

Exchange Rate

The exchange rate between USD and UAH can fluctuate, so it’s important to check the current rate before making any transactions. Keep in mind that the exchange rate may be different depending on where you exchange your currency.

The exchange rate of the hryvnia fluctuates, so it is recommended to check the current rate before exchanging your currency. You can do so through various online currency converters such as Xe.


While USD may be widely accepted in tourist areas, it’s always a good idea to have some UAH on hand for smaller purchases or transactions with locals.

ATMs are widely available in Ukraine, so withdrawing UAH is usually not a problem. However, some ATMs may charge fees for international transactions, so be sure to check with your bank before traveling.


When exchanging currency, be aware of any fees that may be charged. Some exchange offices may charge a commission or have unfavorable exchange rates. It’s a good idea to compare rates and fees at different locations before making a transaction.


When deciding between USD and UAH in Ukraine, consider these tips: Keep some UAH for smaller towns and rural areas, check exchange rates and fees when exchanging currency, and be aware that some ATMs might charge fees for international transactions.

Cost of Living in Ukraine

If you’re planning to move to Ukraine, it’s important to understand the cost of living in the country. According to Numbeo, a single person’s estimated monthly costs are around ₴16,735 (approx. $439 USD) without rent.

The cost of living in Ukraine is, on average, 62.7% lower than in the United States. Rent in Ukraine is, on average, 82.0% lower than in the United States.

The cost of living in Ukraine varies depending on where you live and your lifestyle. For example, the cost of living in Kyiv, the capital city, is higher than in other cities in Ukraine. However, the cost of living in Ukraine is generally lower than in most European countries.

The cost of living in Ukraine can be influenced by various factors. Rent for apartments or houses is generally cheaper compared to many European countries, although it varies based on location and property size. Food costs are generally lower, especially when shopping at local markets. 

Public transportation is affordable, with options like the metro, buses, and trams available for low-cost city travel. Healthcare expenses are generally reasonable, though the quality can differ depending on the location and hospital.

Overall, the cost of living in Ukraine is generally lower than in most European countries. However, it’s important to research the cost of living in the specific city or town where you plan to live to get a better idea of the expenses you can expect to incur.

Don’t Get Scammed Tips

If you’re planning to travel to Ukraine, it’s important to stay vigilant and be aware of potential scams. Here are some tips to help you avoid getting scammed:

1. Be cautious with currency exchange:

Only exchange money at authorized exchange offices or banks. Avoid exchanging money on the street or with individuals who approach you offering to exchange money. Check the exchange rate before exchanging currency to ensure you’re getting a fair rate.

2. Watch out for ATM skimming:

When using an ATM, make sure to check for any suspicious devices attached to the machine. Cover your hand when entering your PIN and be aware of anyone standing too close to you.

2. Beware of taxi scams:

Only use licensed taxis or ride-sharing services. Make sure the taxi has a working meter or agree on a price before getting in the car. Avoid taxis that approach you on the street.

4. Don’t fall for charity scams:

Be cautious when donating to charities, especially those related to the conflict in Ukraine. Check the legitimacy of the charity before donating and avoid giving money to individuals on the street who claim to be collecting for charity.

5. Be careful with your personal information:

Don’t share personal information, such as your passport or credit card details, with strangers. Be cautious when using public Wi-Fi and avoid entering sensitive information, such as passwords or credit card details, on unsecured networks.

By following these tips, you can help protect yourself from scams while traveling in Ukraine. Remember to stay vigilant and trust your instincts if something seems suspicious.

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