What Is the Tugrik (MNT)?

The tugrik (MNT) is the official currency of the country of Mongolia and has been in use as the national currency since 1925.

Key Takeaways

  • The tugrik (MNT) is the official national currency of Mongolia and has been in use since 1925 when it replaced all other currencies in the country.
  • The Bank of Mongolia, the country's central bank, maintains the tugrik, which is represented by the symbol ₮.
  • Banknotes range in denominations from ₮1 to ₮20,000, while coins are valued between ₮20 to ₮500.
  • The most common and popular exchange currency for the MNT is the U.S. dollar (USD).

Understanding Tugrik (MNT)

Tugrik is Mongolia's sole legal currency. It's abbreviated as MNT and represented by the symbol ₮. It is also known as the tögrög and the tughrik, can be found in the following denominations: ₮1, ₮3, ₮5, ₮10, ₮20, ₮50, ₮100, ₮500, ₮1,000, ₮5,000, ₮10,000, and ₮20,000 (although bills under ₮10 are no longer printed). The most commonly used coins are ₮20, ₮50, ₮100, ₮200, and ₮500. The currency is maintained by the country's central bank, the Bank of Mongolia.

The basis for Mongolia's financial system was laid in 1924, the same year the country's central bank was formed. Originally called the Mongolian Trade and Industrial Bank, it was renamed the Bank of Mongolia in 1954. The bank is responsible for overseeing and maintaining the stability of the tugrik.

The first banknotes went into circulation in December 1925 and the tugrik completely replaced the Mongolian dollar three years later. The MNT isn't pegged to any currency and no other currency is pegged to it.

The most common and popular exchange currency for the MNT is the U.S. dollar (USD). As of June 11, 2021, the exchange rate was one MNT to $0.000350195. A single USD purchased about ₮2,856.

Travelers are only allowed to import and export a maximum of ₮815 into and out of the country. The country's major banks are able to exchange currency without difficulty and can provide cash advances when needed.

Individuals can use U.S. dollars along with credit and debit cards at major retailers, hotels, and automated teller machines (ATMs) where travel and tourism are common—notably in the capital city Ulaanbaatar. Carrying local currency when traveling in Mongolia is advised.

History of the Tugrik (MNT)

The Mongolian government enacted a currency reform act on Feb. 22, 1925, giving the central bank the sole authority to issue the tugrik. Along with naming the currency, the act also set parameters on how the currency would be backed—a 25% minimum by precious metals and 75% by "goods with high liquidity."

The tugrik was previously subdivided into mongos or möngös. One mongo was the equivalent of 1/100 of a tugrik. But because of its low value, the mongo was removed from circulation. The currency is produced in the United Kingdom, and was originally printed and minted in the former Soviet Union.

Mongolia's economy relies mainly on agriculture, herding, and mineral resources. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mongolian economy contracted by 5.3% in 2020, the most extreme contraction since the early 1990s. Still, since 1991, the country has tripled its per capita GDP.