It isn’t very often that we come across a currency that has no ISO code. However in Kiribati this is indeed the case. It should be noted though that the Kiribati dollar, the official currency of this country, is not the only one used in Kiribati. The people who live on this island – not to mention any visitors who may go there – will also use the Australian dollar. As such there is no ISO code because their own currency is not traded or used beyond the island itself. Let’s find out more about it here.

What coins and notes are available for this currency?

The Kiribati dollar is divided into the familiar 100 cents, just as you would expect. The coins in use here mirror those used in Australia, so there are four coins in cents and another two in dollar amounts. The four cent-based coins are 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents. There is also a one dollar coin alongside a two dollar coin. Using the currency on the island might be a little odd to begin with because the Australian dollar also circulates here. This means you will no doubt see coins of the Kiribati dollar as well as the Australian dollar. It is perfectly fine to use a mix of them to make a payment for something though, as this is commonly done on the island.

The Kiribati dollar does not have its own banknotes. Instead the Australian notes are used here, and these are denominated as the $5, $10, $20, $50 and finally the $100 notes.

From past to present – the history of the Kiribati dollar

There was a time when Kiribati was known as one of the Gilbert Islands. It was also one of the islands that was once a foreign territory of the United Kingdom. As such you would imagine the currency that used to be in force here was the British pound, but this was not the case. Instead the Australian dollar was used.

Independence was achieved in 1979 and this brought with it the existence of the island’s own coinage. So as such the Kiribati dollar as we know it today has existed since 1979, albeit only in coin form. There have never been any banknotes that have existed for the currency, and it doesn’t look likely this will ever change.

How to get hold of the Kiribati dollar

As you might expect, with the presence of just coins and no banknotes for this currency, it is virtually impossible to get hold of the Kiribati dollar anywhere other than in Kiribati itself. Normally this would pose a problem with regard to accessing the cash you need prior to arriving on the island. However here it clearly won’t be a problem because you can rely on the Australian dollar instead. This is easy to get hold of via any good bureau de change. You may find you don’t even need to pre-order it, although you may wish to do so just to be safe. Shop around for the best rate first and collect it a few days before you go away so you are fully prepared.

As you might guess from an island nation the number of banks here is not large by any extent. The capital is a place called South Tarawa and here you can find a branch of the ANZ Bank. It is here that you would be able to withdraw cash if you need to. As such it is a good idea to ensure you have some cash on you when you are travelling throughout Kiribati, in case you find you are far away from a source of more. You are limited to carrying $5,000 in cash if you visit the island, but this is not really a problem for most of us!

The usual Mastercard and Visa cards can be used here but you may find that some of the islands that form part of Kiribati do not have any facilities to accept these cards.

How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Kiribati dollar

You won’t be able to find out how much your own currency is worth against the Kiribati dollar since there is no ISO code available for it. However you will be able to find out how much your currency is worth against the Australian dollar. Use the code AUD to find it easily on the currency converter you want to use. It may well be included among an elite selection of currencies near the top of the list, since it is quite commonly searched for by many people.

Do remember though that whatever exchange rate it provides you with will be slightly different from those charged by the bureaux de change. They have to make money on these transactions so you will be charged a different rate to account for this.

As should always be the case you can find out more about travelling to Kiribati prior to actually making the journey. The UK government provides an official website that has pages dedicated to this type of information. The appropriate travel advice page for Kiribati is at

Travelling safely with the Kiribati dollar

You shouldn’t have too many concerns when traveling to Kiribati. However it does make sense to ensure you are safe whenever you travel anywhere in the world, and this island nation is no exception. It is reassuring to know that crime is not a big problem here. You may not be surprised to learn that some petty crime does go on though. As such it makes sense to take some fairly common precautions to ensure you do not become a victim of it.

For the most part people looking to commit these crimes will pick on easy targets. This means taking some precautions to make sure you don’t present such a target to those who are thinking about committing such crimes. Make sure you don’t flash your cash about or anything else that might be valuable. Take care when using cash machines and be sure you have a chance to use a room safe if your hotel or choice of accommodation has one. You then have somewhere safe to keep anything of value rather than leaving it unattended and out in the open.

There is really nothing much else to worry about here though, so providing you keep an eye on your possessions you shouldn’t need to be concerned at all.

Where to spend your dollars in Kiribati – and what to spend them on

Before we take a look at where and how you might spend your dollars in Kiribati, it might be a good idea to see exactly where Kiribati is in the world. You will find it in the Pacific Ocean and if you look to where Australia is and move out to the north-east you will eventually come across. Kiribati. This is an island nation and it is therefore made up of a number of land masses. There are many islands that are uninhabited but some do have the people of Kiribati living on them.

The capital of Kiribati is called South Tarawa. There is one main road that runs right through the middle of the small land mass it can be found on. Also nearby is Bairiki Harbour which might be worth a look if you are there. The Bairiki National Stadium can also be found here. At either end of this land mass the road stretches out and reaches other island areas.

Another of the islands in this nation is called Banaba Island, which is much rounder and more uniform in shape compared to where the capital lies. You may be vaguely familiar with Kiritimati too, which is sometimes confused with Kiribati itself due to the similarity between the names. This has sometimes been referred to as Christmas Island, which will no doubt be even more familiar to you for obvious reasons. This is made from coral, known as a coral atoll, and it actually holds the record for being the largest one of its kind in the world. Several thousand people call this their home, and this particular island actually accounts for over two-thirds of the total land mass that makes up Kiribati.


As you can see this is a rather unusual island nation in a sense. There are few major sights on the islands and you may find it too remote for your liking. However the islands do have a history and there are some sights here that date back to the Second World War. In addition if you love getting out and about among the natural world you are sure to love what you find here. You could end up enjoying some bird watching or perhaps some fishing along the coastal areas. Surfing is also very popular as is scuba diving – there is plenty to discover beneath the waves!

If you do choose to visit Kiribati you certainly have some interesting experiences awaiting you.

Kiribati Dollar – no ISO code

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