Until January 2002 the national currency was the 'Peseta'. Since the introducton of the Euro in the entire European Union, the currency in Spain is also the Euro. One Euro is equivalent to one hundred and sixty six of the old 'pesetas': 1.00 EUR= 166.386 Pesetas.
There are coins with the following values: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents. 1 and 2 euros coins too.
See also: Recognising Euro notes.
Although the Euro has been the only currency for a while now, you might still find people that talk about prices in pesetas terms. This transition is being a tough one as people's idea of amounts still reamains unchanged. One euro sounds not enough, so if they need to put emphasis on how expensive something is, they might say it in pesetas and if —on the contrary— they with to make see that something was a good deal, they will tend to say 'it was just a few Euros'. It's a funny moment of transition that will take a while until it goes away.
THE IVA (or VAT) TAX
IVA is the EU wide tax over the value of products. In the UK it is called VAT. It taxes 16 % over the value of products and applies to most items on sale. Restaurants and hotels charge an IVA of 7%. The tax doesn't apply inside airport terminals (in the gates area).
Getting back your taxes
If you country of residence is outside of the European Union, you may request a sales-tax refund for your purchases.
There are several companies in Spain that are authorised to process sales-tax (IVA) refunds. You need to request a form for your sales-tax refund at the shop.
Spanish law establishes the minimum purchase for you to be able to get a sales-tax refund at € 90.15. This amount needs to be spent at the same shop, and on the same day, for it to be eligible for a Tax Free cheque. The paperwork is simple; to obtain the refund, you must do the following:
1. Ask for a tax-free receipt of purchase, for which you need to show a valid proof of foreign residency (passport).
2. Show your purchases, and seal the tax-free goods in customs. (You have three months from the time of purchase to seal your goods).
3. Ask for the refund at the authorised refund-processing company. These companies have IVA refund offices at all major airports in Spain. You can get your refund in cash, or credit it back to your credit card.
A reference of approximate costs
- Breakfast: (café + something to eat): 1.80 EUR
- Meal (menú del día) 9.00-10.00 EUR
- More elegant dinner: 60 EUR
- Museums entrance: 5 EU
- A glass of beer costs between € 2 and €5
- Cinema ticket between € 4 and € 6
- Theatre costs between € 12 and € 30
It is mainly a personal decision. If you're happy with the service you can leave something like 10-12%. If you're not impressed by service or food, leave 5%. You actually have the choice not to tip if you feel you have been badly served