The official currency of Switzerland is the Swiss franc. This is also the currency of neighboring Liechtenstein, a German-speaking principality situated in central Europe within the Alps. The code is CHF and this stands for ‘Confoederatio Helvetica Franc’. This is a reference to the Helvetic Republic, formed in 1798 when attempts were made to form a Central Governing authority in the country. It wasn’t until 1850 though, that the Swiss franc became the monetary unit of Switzerland as a whole.
Currently the denominations of the banknotes are 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 & 1,000 francs. Swiss francs are a popular currency in the UK and there are lots of suppliers buying and selling them. This means you will find competitive exchange rates although you may have difficulty obtaining or selling Fr.1000 notes.
One Swiss franc is subdivided into 100 units. Depending on what part of the country you are in, and what language you speak the name for this unit is rappen (German), centime (French), centesimo (Italian) or rap (Romansh).
Similarly, the plural is also different in each of the 4 official languages of Switzerland. Fr.100 in German is 100 Franken, in French, it’s 100 francs, Italian 100 Franchi and Romansh are also 100 francs.
Switzerland is bordered by France, Germany, Austria, Italy and Liechtenstein which is why it has 4 official languages. Interestingly, there is no proper Capital of Switzerland as a whole. Although only the 5th largest, the city of Bern is the “de facto” capital and referred to as the Federal Capital. Zurich, the largest city is the capital of the Canton (area) of Zurich and similarly, Geneva is the capital of the Canton of Geneva.
Switzerland has a very interesting system of Governance and Democracy and out of the remit of this article but well worth looking up.
Can you spend euros in Switzerland?
In a word, yes, but it could be an expensive way to purchase things. Like most cities in Europe including London, small things such as drinks, papers, sandwiches, coffee, pastries, etc can be paid for in Euros, but this will be an expensive way to pay. When visiting any European country where euros are not the main currency this can often be the worst way to pay for things. Not all local businesses will accept euros as payment for goods and services and if they do they are likely to charge you extremely unfair and inflated exchange rates which can result in you paying over the odds.
When buying currency you will find that when you visit any country around the world it is often best to pay for goods and services using the local currency where possible. When vendors and traders offer payment in other major currencies such as euros or US dollars you will always find that they will need to hike up exchange rates. This is to cover the bank charges that they incur when they bank the takings and of course to earn a little extra for offering the service in the first place. This also goes for paying with a credit or debit card. If you are given the choice then always choose the local currency.
Sometimes if you pay for goods or services using these major currencies you may even get change in the local currency as they may not hold the correct denominations to supply you with the change in euros or US dollars for example.
At compareholidaymoney.com we always advise people to take local currency as this will give you the best value when paying for things in the country. When buying travel money we always advise customers to shop and compare online to help them find the best deal and to never leave it to the last minute as Airport exchange bureaux or high street Banks will charge you at least 10% more compared to online currency suppliers. If you are visiting Switzerland you can always compare the best suppliers and exchange rates for the Swiss franc.
By Graham Morley