The dollar (currency code TTD) is the currency of Trinidad and Tobago. It is normally abbreviated with the dollar sign $, or alternatively TT$ to distinguish it from other dollar-denominated currencies. It is subdivided into 100 cents. Its predecessor currencies are the Trinidadian dollar and the Tobagan dollar.
The history of currency in the former British colony of Trinidad and Tobago closely follows that of the British Eastern Caribbean territories in general. The first currency used was the Spanish dollar, also known as "pieces of eight", which began circulating in the 16th century. Proposals for establishing banks in the West Indies, targeted at landowners, were made in 1661 by the British government, and in 1690 by Sir Thomas Dalby. Despite this, and Queen Anne's proclamation of 1704 brought the gold standard to the West Indies, silver pieces of eight (Spanish dollars and later Mexican dollars) continued to form a major portion of the circulating currency right into the latter half of the nineteenth century.
The abolition of slavery in the West Indies was the catalyst which led to the establishing of the first bank. The Colonial Bank was established on 1 June 1836, and opened its first branch in Trinidad in 1837 under the management of Anthony Cumming. Its initial mandate was to use Spanish and Mexican dollars as its official currency, and it was required to make all payments in those currencies, but incoming payments could be made in any currency, and the bank often found that it was short of dollars. The bank therefore lobbied the government, seeking permission to issue money in other currencies. This resulted in an imperial order-in-council in 1838, in which Trinidad and Tobago formally adopted the sterling currency, although the Spanish, Mexican and Colombian currencies were also declared legal tender.
A second bank, the West India Bank, was granted a Royal Charter in 1840, and opened its first branch in 1843. The loss of its monopoly had a profound effect on the Colonial Bank, which was also at a disadvantage due to not being permitted to pay interest on deposits, as the West India Bank did. The two banks pursued opposite strategies, with the Colonial Bank maintaining a conservative stance, including removing currency from circulation, while the West India Bank pursued aggressive expansion. The Sugar Duties Act of 1846, which equalised the duties on sugar imported into the United Kingdom from the British colonies with that of non-British territories, created a financial crisis in Trinidad and Tobago as the price of sugar fell rapidly. The West India Bank, which had taken on too much risk, went bust during the crisis and the Colonial Bank was also put under strain.
The international silver crisis of 1873 signalled the end of the silver dollar era in the West Indies and silver dollars were demonetized in Tobago in 1879 and in Trinidad at around the same period. This left a state of affairs, in which the British coinage circulated, being reckoned in the private sector using dollar accounts at an automatic conversion rate of 1 dollar = 4 shillings 2 pence. Local banks also issued their own dollars, however, denominated in dollars. Government offices kept their accounts in British pounds, shillings, and pence until the year 1935 when Trinidad and Tobago went decimal. The Currency Interpretaion Ordinance of 1934 replaced the system of pounds, shillings and pence with the dollar, retaining the fixed exchange rate of 1 dollar for every 4 shillings 2 pence.
Trinidad and Tobago entered a currency union with other Caribbean nations after World War II. The currency of the union (see next paragraph) was replaced by the modern Trinidad and Tobago dollar in 1964, two years after the nation's independence in 1962. The Trinidad and Tobago dollar was launched, and had become the sole currency by 1967.
From 1949, with the introduction of the British West Indies dollar, the currency of Trinidad and Tobago became officially tied up with that of the British Eastern Caribbean territories in general. The British sterling coinage was eventually replaced by a new decimal coinage in 1955, with the new cent being equal to one half of the old penny. In 1951, notes of the British Caribbean Territories, Eastern Group, were introduced, replacing Trinidad and Tobago's own notes. In 1955, coins were introduced when the dollar was decimalized. In 1964, Trinidad and Tobago introduced its own dollar. Between 1964 and 1968 the Trinidad and Tobago dollar was utilized in Grenada as legal tender until that country rejoined the common currency arrangements of the East Caribbean dollar. The Trinidad and Tobago dollar and the Eastern Caribbean dollar were the last two currencies in the world to retain the old rating of one pound equals four dollars and eighty cents, as per the gold sovereign to the Pieces of eight. Both of these currencies ended this relationship within a few weeks of each other in 1976.
After VAT was introduced in 1989, the dollar was switched from a fixed rate to a managed float regime on Easter Weekend, 1993. For a wider outline of the history of currency in the region, see Currencies of the British West Indies.
In 1966, coins were introduced in denominations of 1¢, 5¢, 10¢, 25¢ & 50¢. A large sized $1 coin was first released for circulation in 1969 and again in 1979 before being replaced with a smaller sized version in 1995 more regularly minted. The 5¢ is struck in bronze, with the other denominations in cupro-nickel. The obverses all feature Trinidad and Tobago's coat of arms, with the reverse designs solely featuring the denomination until 1976, when they were replaced by either a national bird or flower in addition to the denomination after the declaration of a republic. The 50¢ & $1 coins are scarcely seen in circulation, but can be purchased from banks if requested.
There are also coins minted in $5, $10, $100 and $200 denominations as well. These coins are not in circulation, and can only be obtained from the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, either as part of a special 'eight-coin proof set' collection (in the case of the $5 and $10 coins) or individually (in the case of the $100 and $200 coins.) Notably, the $5 and $10 coins are minted in sterling silver, whereas the $100 and $200 are minted in gold. The price of the gold coins fluctuate depending on the current state of the market for gold.