Skip to content

With the death of Queen Elizabeth II, what happens to our bills and coins?

Unknown if Canadians will ultimately see King Charles III on our bills
Queen Elizabeth II attends an armed forces act of loyalty parade in the gardens of the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh, Tuesday, June 28, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jane Barlow/Pool via AP

Canadians are used to seeing Queen Elizabeth II on their money, but that will change following the death of the longest-serving British monarch and Canadian head of state.

However, the Bank of Canada, which produces Canada’s paper bills, said changes likely won’t be seen immediately.

The current $20 bank note featuring the Queen, is intended to circulate for years to come, the central bank said, and there is no legislative requirement to change the design within a prescribed period when the monarch changes, it said. New bank notes, including the portrait subject, are approved by the finance minister.

One observer says he doesn’t know if Canadians will ultimately see King Charles III, as he’s now known, on our bills.

“I don’t know if we will, since there is only the $20 that has the Queen on it, and Canadians may want to change this,” said University of Toronto business history professor Dimitry Anastakis.

The government will likely keep the Queen on the $20 bill for a while before any changes are made, however, he noted.

The Royal Canadian Mint, which manufactures and distributes Canada’s coins, said the government has exclusive jurisdiction over their design.

The mint said it will abide by the decision and timetable of the government on changing coins.

Mint spokesperson Alex Reeves said the legal tender status of coins currently in circulation does not change when a new monarch ascends the throne.

Coins with the face of the queen’s father, King George VI, circulated for decades after his death.

They are more likely to change sooner than bills, however, said Anastakis.

“It is quite likely that we will see (the King) on our coinage in the next year or two, but this depends on the Mint, and what their plans are.”

Anastakis said he doesn’t know if the Mint already has images of King Charles III for the coinage or if the monarch needs to designate an official image.

The King cannot face the same direction as the Queen, who faces right, he added. Each monarch faces in the opposite direction to the one before.

Although it is tradition to feature the reigning monarch on Canadian currency, there are no rules requiring this.

The Queen appeared on the Bank of Canada’s first series of bank notes as a child in 1935.