Discover all the banknotes issued between 1982 and 2020!

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The country standing!

Located in the Coral Sea, 539 kilometers northeast of New Caledonia, 623 km southeast of the Solomon Islands and 1,808 kilometers east-northeast of Australia, Vanuatu lies consists of 83 main islands mostly of volcanic origin. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the archipelago experienced slow and discontinuous colonization. the territory is quickly the subject of a conflict of interest between France and the United Kingdom who decide in 1904 to set up a joint administration. Thus was established, from 1906 to 1980, the "condominium of the New Hebrides", making these Oceanian islands a colony managed jointly by two colonial powers. In 1980, the New Hebrides (1) became independent following a referendum and definitively took the name “Vanuatu” (2).

Vanuatu's Issues

Between 1982 and 1989, the Central Bank of Vanuatu issued a first series of four banknotes of 100, 500, 1000 and 5000 vatu. All the tickets, as well as the issues that will follow, have the distinction of featuring on the front, the emblem of Vanuatu represented by a Melanesian warrior standing (3), holding a spear in front of a mountain. In the background, two branches of intertwined cycads or “namele” (Cycas seemannii) and a spiral-shaped pig tooth. At the bottom, the national motto: Long God Yumi Stanap (in French: “Dieu est notre Guide”).


Between 1993 and 2011, the Reserve Bank of Vanuatu (which replaces the Central Bank of Vanuatu) issued a second series of banknotes of 500, 1000, 5000 and a new value of 200 vatu! The 200 vatu banknote will be used again in 1995 to celebrate the 15th anniversary of independence and only 2000 copies printed (see illustration above).

Between 2002 and 2010, the Reserve Bank of Vanuatu issued a 1000 vatu banknote with horizontal numbering and ascending vertical numbering. The banknote is then reused to commemorate the 25th anniversary of independence in 2006.

The first Polymer banknotes appear from the 2006-2016 issue with five banknotes of 200, 1000, 2000 and 5000 vatu. In 2010, a 10,000 vatu banknote was designed and printed to commemorate the 30th anniversary of independence. The very last 1000 vatu banknote dates from this year 2020 and commemorates the 40th anniversary of the independence of the “standing country”!


(1) See Oceania: “New Hebrides's banknotes” in the Numizon catalog.
(2) For more information: “Vanuatu”, wikipedia.
(3) The name Vanuatu is derived from the word Vanua (country) and the verb tu (to be standing). When the two words are put together, it gives "the standing country".

Our sources

  • « The Banknote Book: Vanuatu » by Owen W. Linzmeyer.
  • « Premier essai de nomenclature numismatique de la République de Vanuatu » by Frédéric Angleviel.
  • « Vanuatu » Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, 1961 - present, 17th edition (pages 1040-1041).
  • sales archives.

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