The official currency of Lebanon is the Lebanese Pound, also known as the Lebanese Lira. The Lebanese Pound is most commonly abbreviated to LL or LBP.
History of the Lebanese Pound
The Lebanese Pound replaced the Syrian Pound in 1939, which in turn had replaced the Ottoman Lira in 1918 at the end of WWI. The currency was quite stable until the Lebanese Civil War when it dramatically devalued. Eventually the currency was stabilised when the Civil War ended, and it was pegged to the US dollar at roughly 1500 LL to 1 USD.
Beginning in 2020 during the Lebanese economic and political crisis, the currency then dramatically devalued on the black market, especially as banks began running out of cash and the cost of basic goods skyrocketed. As of November 2022, the rate is roughly 37,000 LL to US$1.
Notes of Lebanon
Notes of Lebanon come in 1,000 LL, 5,000 LL, 10,000 LL, 20,000 LL, 50,000 LL, 100,000 LL. The 100,000 LL can be quite difficult to use at smaller shops as they often don’t have change.
Coins of Lebanon
The coins of the Lebanese Pound come in 25 LL, 50 LL, 100 LL, 250 LL, 500 LL coins. However, with the recent economic crisis, these are becoming increasingly less common.
ATMs were until recently prolificate and standard practise to use. However, with the current black market rate, unless you want to get significantly less exchange, then it’s best to bring cash and exchange on the black market.
The black market is now an integral part of the Lebanese economic landscape. There are several very useful websites to check out what the current rate is. One of these websites is https://lirarate.org/
The black market rate at time of writing is roughly 22000 LL, but this can dramatically change each day.
Can you use foreign currencies in Lebanon?
Of course for larger purchases, accommodation or tour costs, USD can usually be used, however for day to day purchases you normally need to use the local currency. However, with the onset of hyperinflation and economic crisis, generally any foreign currency is accepted.
The black market exchange rate is currently hovering around 80,000 LL to US$1 (March 2023), however this can greatly fluctuate from day to day and it’s best you check when travelling.
For context of how drastic and exponential the drop in value is, it was about 35,000 to 40,000 LL to US$1 in November 2022.
There are 4 other official exchange rates, including the original official rate of 1507 LL, as well as a USD ATM withdrawal rate of 3,900 LL. There is an official cash exchange rate of 3,800 LL and even a trading rate. However if you don’t wish to pay 4 to 5 times for your food or transport, it’s best to bring cash and exchange on the black market.
If you'd like to find out more about the currency and how to exchange money in Lebanon, have a look at our Lebanon Currency Update blog.