Canada’s weirdest laws: Be careful how many coins you use when shopping

The 1985 Currency Act forbids Canadian residents from using too much change to pay for goods and services.
The 1985 Currency Act forbids Canadian residents from using too much change to pay for goods and services. (Photo: iStock)

In keeping with our weirdest laws theme started last week with an article about hollering now being allowed in Bracebridge, Ont., this week we present you with a weird law about coins.

Have you ever stood behind a person in line at a supermarket who likes to pay for their purchase with small change while you’re in a hurry?

You know that feeling of impatience and frustration you get?

The law totally gets you. The 1985 Currency Act forbids Canadian residents from using too much change to pay for goods and services, depending on the value of the transaction.

The law specifically sets out that you cannot use more than the following quantities of change for certain amounts:

  • Forty dollars if the denomination is two dollars or greater but does not exceed ten dollars;
  • Twenty-five dollars if the denomination is one dollar;
  • Ten dollars if the denomination is ten cents or greater but less than one dollar;
  • Five dollars if the denomination is five cents; and
  • Twenty-five cents if the denomination is one cent.

While it’s prohibited to pay with more coins that are allowed, no punishment has been outlined because it doesn’t really seem to be illegal.

But wait a minute: pennies are no longer accepted currency in Canada, because they became too expensive to produce. So what happens to that section of the act?

Obviously, the rule about not paying for a transaction with pennies is now extinct but the rest of the coin limitation rules still seem to be in place. Although what can still possibly cost twenty-five cents in Canada? A gumball maybe?

Next time you’re in front of a person who is trying to pay for a seven dollar purchase with nothing but nickels, you can tell them the law doesn’t allow it.

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