What is the JMD (Jamaican Dollar)?

JMD is the currency abbreviation for the Jamaican dollar, the official currency for island nation of Jamaica, and is subdivided into 100 cents. The currency symbol for JMD (Jamaican Dollar) is J$ or JA$.

Key Takeaways

  • JMD is the currency abbreviation for the Jamaican dollar, the official currency for island nation of Jamaica, and is subdivided into 100 cents.
  • In the foreign currency market, the most common Jamaican dollar exchange is the USD/JMD rate, which, as of Sept. 2019, stands at 1 USD = 136.05 JMD.
  • The JMD was the first dollar to be based on half-pound sterling instead of the Spanish or U.S. dollars.

Understanding the JMD (Jamaican Dollar)

JMD (Jamaican dollar) banknotes currently come in denominations of J$50, J$100, J$500, J$1,000, and J$5,000. The front side of the banknotes has special symbols or numerals in large print to help the visually impaired. Each note has the portrait of an eminent Jamaican figure on the front, mainly either those considered Jamaican heroes or former prime ministers. The back side of the dollar bills feature scenes of Jamaican locations or famous landmarks.

Many places in Jamaica that are frequented by tourists also accept U.S. dollars, but businesses located away from the main tourist hubs are more likely only to take the JMD. However, merchants can establish their own exchange rates so customers using foreign currency may encounter unfavorable conversion rates depending on the specific merchant’s policy. The Cayman Islands also used the Jamaican dollar at one time. In the foreign currency market, the most common Jamaican dollar exchange is the USD/JMD rate, which, as of Sept. 2019, stands at 1 USD = 136.05 JMD.

The Bank of Jamaica received exclusive rights to mint coins and banknotes produced in Jamaica in 1960, although De La Rue Currency Ltd. in England has printed banknotes used in Jamaica since 1920. The country adopted a decimal-based currency system in 1968. The JMD was the first dollar to be based on half-pound sterling instead of the Spanish or U.S. dollars.

JMD replaced the Jamaican pound in 1969. At the time, both coins and notes circulated, but coins have since replaced some bills. A J$1,000 note began circulation in 2000, and a J$5,000 note debuted in 2009. Regulations established by the Bank of Jamaica set limitations for the number of coins that can be used in one transaction to purchase good and services, and also details the limits for specific denominations of coins allowed within those transactions.

As of 2018, which is the most current World Bank data, Jamaica's annual inflation rate is at 4.8% and its gross domestic product (GDP) posted a 1.9% reading.

History of the JMD (Jamaican Dollar)

Throughout its history, Jamaica has used a variety of coins and banknotes from various countries. The region’s original inhabitants saw no real need for monetary currency since they mainly conducted the transaction via barter. After the Spanish colonized Jamaica in the 16th century, the gradual introduction of Spanish money became used for buying and selling goods. Two centuries later, when Jamaica was a British colony, Jamaicans primarily used British currency or a slightly customized version of it. At one point, it was the only British territory in the West Indies to use distinctive pound sterling coins.