ISO 4217 is the international standard describing three-letter codes (also known as the currency code) to define the names of currencies established by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The first two letters of the code are the two letters of ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 country codes (which are also used as the basis for national top-level domains on the Internet) and the third is usually the initial of the currency itself.
There is also a three-digit code number assigned to each currency, in the same manner as there is also a three-digit code number assigned to each country as part of ISO 3166.
The standard also defines the relationship between the major currency unit and any minor currency unit. Supranational currencies, such as the East Caribbean dollar, the CFP franc, the CFA franc BEAC and the CFA franc BCEAO are normally also represented by codes beginning with an "X".
In 1973, the ISO Technical Committee 68 decided to develop codes for the representation of currencies and funds for use in any application of trade, commerce or banking. A number of currencies were official ISO 4217 currency codes and currency names until their replacement by the euro or other currencies.
Note that the currency names used below may not match the currency names used in the ISO standard itself, but the codes do match.
The ISO 4217 code list is the established norm in banking and business all over the world for defining different currencies, and in many countries the codes for the more common currencies are so well known publicly, that exchange rates published in newspapers or posted in banks use only these to define the different currencies, instead of translated currency names or ambiguous currency symbols. The euro is represented by the code EUR (EU is included in the ISO 3166-1 reserved codes list to represent the European Union). Frequently, these changes are due to new governments (through war or a new constitution), treaties between countries standardizing on a currency, or revaluation of the currency due to excessive inflation.
ISO 4217 codes are used on airline tickets and international train tickets to remove any ambiguity about the price. There are also special codes allocated for testing purposes (XTS), and to indicate no currency transactions (XXX). Also, if a currency is revalued, the currency code's last letter is changed to distinguish it from the old currency.
In others, the major currency unit has so little value that the minor unit is no longer generally used (e.g.
The ISO 4217 maintenance agency (MA), SIX Interbank Clearing, is responsible for maintaining the list of codes. In some cases, the third letter is the initial for "new" in that country's language, to distinguish it from an older currency that was revalued; the code sometimes outlasts the usage of the term "new" itself (for example, the code for the Mexican peso is MXN). ISO 3166 never assigns country codes beginning with "X", these codes being assigned for privately customized use only (reserved, never for official codes)—for instance, the ISO 3166-based NATO country codes (STANAG 1059, 9th edition) use "X" codes for imaginary exercise countries ranging from XXB for "Brownland" to XXR for "Redland", as well as for major commands such as XXE for SHAPE or XXS for SACLANT. Consequently, ISO 4217 can use "X" codes for non-country-specific currencies without risk of clashing with future country codes.
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