Information for Coupon users


1. What can be purchased or paid for with the Coupons?

UNESCO Coupons can be used to pay for school or university registration and tuition fees, subscriptions to educational, scientific or cultural institutions or copyright dues. The Coupons can also be used to purchase:

  • Publications: Books, school textbooks, periodicals, medical or scientific journals, maps, copies of courses, reproductions of work of art, sheet music.
  • Computer materials: Computers and computer hardware; storage devices; CDs and DVDs; printers, scanners, modems and other peripherals; operating systems and other software (i.e. for word processing, database management, spreadsheets, integrated software, etc.).
  • School materials: Textbooks, exercise books, paper, ink, pencils, erasers, rulers, paints, demonstration apparatus, drawing tables, musical instruments.
  • Scientific materials: Optical instruments and equipment, laboratory instruments and equipment, chemical products, electrical and acoustic measuring instruments, analytical and clinical testing apparatus, electrical and electro-technical equipment, hand and machine tools, meteorological and topographical instruments.

2. Where and how can UNESCO Coupons be purchased?

The Coupons are issued in denominations of US$1000, $100, $30, $10, $3, and $1. Anyone can buy the Coupons. Users pay for the Coupons in their national currency at the official United Nations rate of exchange on the day of purchase. National distributing bodies may add a surcharge to cover their handling costs, but this may not exceed 5 per cent of the value of the Coupons ordered.

In every user country there is a distributing body responsible for the sale of Coupons and, as a general rule, this is the country’s National Commission for UNESCO. The National Commissions for UNESCO provide information, on request, concerning the purchase of Coupons and also deposit the Coupons purchase orders on behalf of the individual purchasers. See the list of distributing bodies for UNESCO Coupons

3. How does one use UNESCO Coupons?

Coupon users should send the supplier their order together with the Coupons corresponding to the price of the material, including, where necessary, the cost of insurance and transport. Coupon users placing orders with firms unfamiliar with the UNESCO Coupons Programme may sometimes experience difficulty in having their Coupons accepted. In this case, the user can request assistance from the Coupons Programme staff at UNESCO’s Secretariat in Paris. This office will inform the supplier of the conditions governing the Coupons redemption and will try to facilitate the settlement.

However, UNESCO cannot intervene in the commercial transaction between Coupon users and suppliers. It is therefore up to the users themselves to negotiate with suppliers the cost of goods and the conditions of delivery, packaging, insurance, etc. It is also the purchasers’ responsibility to address any complaints directly to suppliers or transporters.


Coupons should bear the stamp of the distributing body where they were purchased. Users should immediately sign or stamp the Coupons they purchase in the lower right-hand corner, in the space designated for that purpose.

4. What if Coupons are lost?

UNESCO Coupons are means of payment and users should take all the usual precautions to prevent their loss, theft or misuse. In such cases you have to inform the Coupons Programme staff immediately of the serial numbers of the missing Coupons and, in case of theft, you have to provide a police report on the circumstances in which this happened. Upon receipt of the police report the Coupons will be replaced in the same amount and, if possible, in the same denominations.

5. Can expired Coupons be exchanged?

UNESCO Coupons are issued with a validity of four years since 2001. Old UNESCO Coupons not bearing a validity date, or bearing an expired validity date, should be returned to UNESCO for exchange. These Coupons will be replaced with new Coupons bearing an updated validity date in the same values and, if possible, in the same denominations as those returned.

See Coupons Specimen (pdf)

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