Maltese lira

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Maltese lira
Maltese banknotes.jpg Maltese coins.jpg
Maltese banknotesMaltese coins
ISO 4217
until June 1983: MTP, Maltese pound
Symbol £M and Lm
1100 cent (c)
11000 mill (m)
BanknotesLm 2, Lm 5, Lm 10, Lm 20
Freq. used1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 25c, 50c, Lm 1
User(s)None, previously:
Flag of Malta.svg  Malta
Central bank Central Bank of Malta
Inflation 2.8%
Source The World Factbook , 2006 est.
EU Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM)
Since2 May 2005
Fixed rate since2 May 2005
Replaced by euro, non cash1 January 2008
Replaced by euro, cash1 January 2008
1  =Lm 0.429300
Bandpegged in practice, 15% de jure
This infobox shows the latest status before this currency was rendered obsolete.

The lira (Maltese : lira Maltija, plural: liri, ISO 4217 code: MTL) or pound (until ca. 1986 in English, code MTP) was the currency of Malta from 1972 until 31 December 2007. One lira was divided into 100 cents, each of 10 mils. After 1986 the lira was abbreviated as Lm, although the original £M sign continued to be used unofficially. In English the currency was still frequently called the pound even after its official English language name was changed to lira.


The euro replaced the lira as the official currency of Malta on 1 January 2008 at the irrevocable fixed exchange rate of €1 per Lm 0.4293.



In 1825, an imperial order-in-council introduced sterling coin to Malta, replacing a system under which various coinages circulated, including that issued in Malta by the Knights of St John. The pound was valued at 12 scudi of the local currency. This exchange rate meant that the smallest Maltese coin, the grano, was worth one third of a farthing (1 scudo = 20 tari = 240 grani). Consequently, 13-farthing (112-penny) coins were issued for use in Malta until 1913, alongside the regular sterling coinage. Amongst the British colonies which used sterling coinage, Malta was unique in issuing a 13-farthing coin.

Between 1914 and 1918, wartime emergency paper money issues were made by the government.

Until 1972, the pound was divided into 20 shillings, each of 12 pence with 4 farthings to the penny; from May 1972 it was decimalised into 100 cents, and each cent into 10 mils. [1]

Pre-decimal sterling coinage continued to circulate in Malta for nearly a year after it was withdrawn in the UK due to decimalisation as Malta did not decimalise until 1972. The Maltese pound was initially equal to the sterling unit, however this parity did not survive long after the floating of sterling on 22 June 1972.


Emergency issues between 1914 and 1918 were in denominations of 5 and 10 shillings, £1, £5 and £10. In 1940, notes dated 13 September 1939 in denominations of 2/6, 5/–, 10/– and £1 were issued, followed late in the year by a provisional 1/– note overprinted on old 2/– notes dated 20 November 1918. [2] Note production continued after the Second World War in denominations of 10/- and £1, with £5 notes reintroduced between 1961 and 1963.

After the Central Bank of Malta was established by the Central Bank Act of 1967 and began operating on April 17, 1968, [2] the issuing body named on the banknotes switched from "Government of Malta" to "Central Bank of Malta." While the designs of the notes remained unchanged, the colors were changed. The Central Bank refers to this series as the "CBM first series". The CBM second series began with the introduction of lira-denominated notes on January 15, 1973. [2]


Banknotes issued by the Government of Malta and then by the Central Bank of Malta were written in English up to 1972. From 1973 to 1985, they were written in Maltese on the obverse (with the currency identified as "lira"), and in English on the reverse (identifying the currency as pound). From 1986 to 2007, Maltese was used on both sides. [3]

Although exclusively using British coins at that time, Malta did not decimalise with the UK in 1971. Instead, decimalisation occurred a year later, on the "pound and mil" system, dividing the pound into 1,000 mils and 100 cents. The Maltese name "lira" and the English name "pound" were used concurrently on banknotes until 1986, when "lira" became the official name of the currency in both languages. Mil denominated coins were removed from circulation in 1994.

On entry into the European Union, Malta agreed to adopt the euro. The lira was replaced by the euro on 1 January 2008, as part of the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union. [4]

Euro changeover

The Maltese lira was replaced by the euro as the official currency of Malta at the irrevocable fixed exchange rate of Lm 0.429300 per €1. However, Maltese lira banknotes and coins continued to have legal tender status and were accepted for cash payments until 31 January 2008. Maltese lira were convertible free of charge at all Maltese credit institutions until 30 March 2008. Maltese coins were convertible at the Central Bank of Malta until 1 February 2010, and banknotes remained convertible until 31 January 2018.

Exchange rate

Maltese currency was considered a local issue of sterling rather than an entirely separate currency until 13 December 1971 and thus was maintained at an exact 1:1 equivalence with sterling's pound; afterwards the currency was allowed to float, anchored to a basket of reserve currencies. The lira had subsequently[ when? ] been worth around £1.60 stg. After the Kuwaiti dinar, it was the second-highest-valued currency unit in the world, being worth US$3.1596 as of 28 April 2007. After the dollar weakened against other currencies in mid-2006, the lira was worth US$3.35289 as of 16 December 2007.

The currency entered the ERM II on 2 May 2005, by which its value had to be maintained within a 15% band around the central parity rate of Lm 0.429300 per euro. The Central Bank of Malta and Maltese Government unilaterally decided to keep the actual Lm/€ exchange rate equal to the central parity rate (i.e., doing away with the 15% band) throughout the ERM II period.

The irrevocable fixed conversion rate was established by the ECOFIN on 10 July 2007, [5] at Lm 0.4293 to one euro. [6] [7] [8]


Maltese 2 cent coin, 1976 Pieces 2 cent de malte.png
Maltese 2 cent coin, 1976

Decimal coinage was introduced in 1972 (one year after the United Kingdom) based on the "pound and mil" system proposed in 1855 by Sir William Brown MP in denominations of 2, 3, and 5 mils, 1, 2, 5, 10, and 50 cents. There was no one-mil coin, although, the coins that were provided (2m, 3m, and 5m) allowed goods to be priced (and change given) for any number of mils. In 1975, a 25c coin was introduced.

A new coinage was issued in 1986 in denominations of 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 25c and 50c and Lm 1. A third series was introduced in 1991 due to the change in Malta's coat of arms. The mils were withdrawn in 1994, although for some time only the 5 mils had been seen (and then only rarely).


On 15 January 1973, [2] banknotes were introduced, denominated in liri on the obverse and pounds on the reverse, in denominations of £M 1, £M 5 and £M 10. In 1986, £M1 notes were replaced by coins and Lm 2 and Lm 20 notes were introduced.

Banknote Series the Maltese lira
SeriesSymbolDenominationsDate of issue
2nd£M£M 1, £M 5, £M 101973
4thLmLm 2, Lm 5, Lm 10, Lm 201986

Banknotes of the fourth series were:

Fourth Series [9]
ImageValueEquivalent in Euros (€)DimensionsMain ColourDescriptionDate of
ObverseReverseObverseReverseWatermarkfirst printingissuewithdrawallapse
[10] [11] Lm 24.66138 × 66.5 mmRedAgatha Barbara, map of Malta, and a brigantine (1531). Marsaxlokk harbour, gantry cranes Allegorical head1967 (legal basis)17 March 198615 June 199815 June 2008
[12] [13] Lm 511.65145 × 69 mmBlueAgatha Barbara, map of Malta, and a speronara (1798) Mellieħa Bay, a woman engaged in lace making, a fisherman in the course of making fishing pots
[14] [15] Lm 1023.29152 × 72.5 mmGreenAgatha Barbara, map of Malta, and a tartana (1740) Grand Harbour, Malta Drydocks13 September 200013 September 2010
Lm 2046.59159 × 76 mmBrownAgatha Barbara, map of Malta, and a xebec (1743) Auberge de Castille, the monument dedicated to the Maltese worker in Msida 30 November 19922 December 2002

Banknotes in circulation at the time of the introduction of the euro were:

Fifth Series [9]
ImageValueEquivalent in Euros (€)DimensionsMain ColourDescriptionDate of
ObverseReverseObverseReverseWatermarkfirst printingissuewithdrawallapse
Lm 24.66138 × 66.5 mmRed, violet Melita holding a rudder, symbolising Malta in control of her own destiny, 3 doves symbolising peace, United Nations Emblem, the Central Bank of Malta Coat-of-Arms, mosaic designs from the period of Roman presence in Malta.The Banca Giuratale at Mdina and the one at Victoria, Gozo Allegorical head1967 (legal basis)18 September 1989
Enhanced: 1 June 1994
31 January 2008 [16] 31 January 2018 [16]
[17] [18] Lm 511.65145 × 69 mmBlue Mdina Gate, Torre dello Standardo, extract from Maltese declaration of rights
[19] [20] Lm 1023.29152 × 72.5 mmGreen Sette Giugno Monument in Valletta, a national assembly meeting held on 7 June 1919, the day when four Maltese citizens were killed
[21] [22] Lm 2046.59159 × 76 mmBrown, orange George Borg Olivier, raising of the Maltese flag, a marble tablet in Valletta commemorating Independence
For table standards, see the banknote specification table.

See also

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