I was stationed in West Germany in the 1980's and still have close to a hundred (West) German Deutschmarks in bills and coinage. If I visit Germany, can I exchange them for Euros, or are they now simply scrapbook fodder?
You can exchange unlimited amounts of DM banknotes and coins for euro indefinitely and free of charge at all Deutsche Bundesbank branches.
The official exchange rate is set at EUR 1 for DEM 1.95583.
We accept the following banknotes and coins for exchange.
- Banknotes issued by the Bank deutscher Länder (BdL)
- Bundesbank banknotes and
- Federal coins denominated in Deutsche Mark or Pfennig
We no longer accept the following banknotes and coins for exchange.
- 50 Mark BdL note II (green), issued in 1948 You may submit this banknote together with an application for reimbursement to >the Deutsche Bundesbank’s National Analysis Centre at the Regional Office in >Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland or to any other Bundesbank branch.
- DM 2 coin, first issue (minting date 1951)
- Banknotes and coins issued prior to 20 June 1948
We also accept DM banknotes and coins submitted for exchange by post. We must emphasise, however, that submissions made by post carry substantially higher risks and if you choose to send cash in this manner, you do so at your own risk. >Information on deliveries permissible in Germany and abroad can only be obtained >from the relevant delivery companies.
This differs per country, but Germany is quite serious about money and it will be possible at any branch of the Deutsche Bundesbank, indefinitely: https://www.bundesbank.de/Redaktion/EN/Standardartikel/Tasks/Cash_management/free_exchange_dm_euro.html?nsc=true&https=1
As you can read in that article, it is also possible to do this by mail, albeit at your own risk. And it may be hard to receive the resulting Euros in the US; I don't know what kind of check they send and whether you can cash it there.
If you are still in touch with someone from "back then", another option might be to ask them to exchange the money for you at their local bank. Many local banks still accept DM, although usually only from their customers, and often they have additional restrictions (e.g. bills only) or charge a fee. (Source: this article published in january in a local newspaper).