What Is the NPR (Nepalese Rupee)?

NPR is an abbreviation or symbol for the Nepalese rupee, the legal currency of Nepal. One rupee is comprised of 100 paise. The most common symbol used when referencing this currency is Rs, though Rp is also used.

Understanding the NPR (Nepalese Rupee)

The Nepalese rupee is often represented by the symbol Rs or Rp. It is made up of 100 paisa. Paisa, the denominations of money that comprise the NPR, is a monetary unit used in several countries and can be likened to a penny in U.S. currency.

Nepal's central bank, the Nepal Rastra Bank, controls the issuing of the currency. The first banknotes were issued in 1945. A new series was issued in 2007 and then again in 2012.

History of the Nepalese Rupee

The NPR was introduced in 1932 and replaced the silver mohar, with the exchange rate being two mohar to one rupee. After its introduction, the NPR was pegged to the Indian rupee (INR) in 1933, with 1.6 Nepalese rupees being equivalent to one Indian rupee.

Throughout the 1940s and 1950s NPR coins were created using brass, nickel and bronze.

The first NPR banknotes were printed and distributed beginning in 1951. Denominations included one, five, 10, and 100 rupees. Aluminum coins were eventually introduced in 1966 that replaced the smaller denominations of one, two and five paisa. Brass coins replaced the 10 paisa coins. In 1971, 500 and 1,000-rupee denomination banknotes were added to circulation.

NPR and Exchange Rates in Nepal

There are three primary currency exchange rates in Nepal; the official rate is the central bank rate. The private bank rate is a little more generous but is also legal in Nepal. The final rate is only offered on the black market and is established by individual stores and by travel agents; this rate is extremely generous but is not legal.

The Trouble With Currency Exchange

The three exchange rates for the NPR have made currency exchange troublesome. Only two of the three rates are legal, though, the exchange is not consistent between them. And though the private bank rate and the black market rate are more generous that the official exchange rate, the exchange does not favor the individual exchanging a foreign currency for NPR currency.

For example, if an individual were to go to a private bank to exchange U.S. dollars for NPRs, the bank would take a good deal more out of each dollar than the individual would receive back in NPRs. The story is similar for the black market exchange rate, though, typically far worse for the individual exchanging U.S. currency. In many cases, the individual will end up with pennies back on each dollar.

Also, after leaving Nepal, the rate of exchange back to the originating, or any other, currency is very small. Only up to 10 percent of all receipts for exchanges made from a foreign currency to NPRs will be returned to an international currency.

The Trouble With Using NPR in Nepal

People are encouraged to exchange currencies to the NPR through banks or other authorized agents (hotels, exchange counters or at the main airport in Kathmandu), and anyone making a currency exchange is advised to get (and keep) receipts. 

If you're using currency around Nepal, you're advised to change large bills to smaller ones. Small businesses, taxis and rickshaws will rarely have (or rarely exchange) change.