What is ISO 4217?

John Markley

The ISO 4217 is a list of codes called currency codes that designate the world's currencies and certain other widely traded commodities. It was created and is maintained by the International Organization for Standardization, a prominent international standards body. It is the international standard used worldwide to identify different currencies and so is very important to international trade and the modern international economy.

Codes for world currency are listed on ISO 4217.
Codes for world currency are listed on ISO 4217.

The ISO 4217 currency codes are widely used in banking, finance, and international business. Currency exchange rates are frequently listed by these codes, and they are used for currency trading on the foreign exchange market and for eliminating ambiguity or confusion during international business transactions. They are also used for international travel, with ISO 4217 currency codes often used to indicate prices for international train and plane tickets.

Palladium is one of the four precious metals.
Palladium is one of the four precious metals.

Each country's currency has a three-letter code identifying it. The first two letters come from that country's two-letter code on the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2, one of several ISO lists of country designation codes. The third letter is usually the first letter in the currency's name, though if a currency is reevaluated this letter is changed to distinguish it from the old currency. For example, the Swiss franc, the Japanese yen, and the United States dollar have the codes CHF, JPY, and USD, respectively. Each currency also has a three-digit code, which is usually the same number as the originating country's code on another ISO list, the ISO 3166-1 numeric country codes.

In addition to national currencies, several other commonly traded items are also included on the ISO 4217. The list includes includes four precious metals: gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. Their codes consist of the letter X, which the ISO never uses in the first letter of a country code, followed by the metal's chemical symbol on the periodic table. For example, platinum is XPT. The unit in which precious metals are counted on the ISO 4217 for calculating exchange rates is the troy ounce.

The ISO 4217 also includes several other financial units. These include special drawing rights, which are allocated to national governments by the International Monetary Fund and can be exchanged for foreign currencies, and the UIC franc, a private currency used by the International Union of Railways. These are named in a similar fashion to precious metals and always have codes starting with an X. For example, the currency code for special drawing rights is XDR.

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