Letter Re: Older Swiss Franc Note Invalidations

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HJL,

Having experienced some disappointments with foreign currencies both in minor personal matters and in business (as well as some successes). Repeated mention of the Swiss Franc here on SurvivalBlog piqued my interest. When I first became involved in currency, I took a look through the souvenirs my family brought back over the years. I was happy to see a 10 SFr note there. My presumption was that surely this must be something! Disappointment followed shortly thereafter, when it turned out to be nothing more than a piece of colored paper by that time.

There is one fact regarding the Franc that may be worth drawing attention to that I have not found mention of on the site. Periodically, the Swiss National Bank invalidates a previous series of currency. As of 2016, they are in the process of issuing a new (9th) series of bank notes. When that is complete, one should expect the possibility that they will withdraw the previous (8th) series. If one reviews the Swiss National Bank website’s page on banknotes one can note the following:

  • 9th Series: in process of being issued in 2016
  • 8th Series: remains legal tender until further notice
  • 7th Series: never issued
  • 6th Series: recalled in 2000, may be exchanged at the Swiss National Bank until 2020 after which they have no value
  • 5th to 1st Series are all withdrawn and have no legal tender status

Anyone holding Swiss Franc notes would first want to attend to any 6th series they have as soon as possible, then consider the 8th series. If previous patterns are repeated, then one would want to be prepared to exchange notes. Questions to be asked are:

  1. How long do you visualize holding them?
  2. Would banks and currency exchanges that deal in foreign currency accept 8th or 6th series in exchange for dollars?
  3. Would banks and currency exchanges that deal in foreign currency be willing to do a trade for new notes?
  4. Would there be a fee?
  5. Can any of them answer that question now and guarantee what they might promise?
  6. Do you want to count on what they say?
  7. Will you have the opportunity to carry them to Switzerland yourself (considering both limits on export of currency and safety)?

My old 10 SFr note was from the 5th series and still makes me feel the loss whenever I look at it (not often). In these matters, time can creep up on one too easily and leave one with pretty paper you may never want to look at! – Rob

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