As I have mentioned previously, Euros will become the currency for Cyprus on January 1st. That's four weeks from today.
In preparation for this, our bank statements have, rather confusingly, showed both Cyprus pounds and euros for some time now. At least six months.
At the end of July, our bank - the Bank of Cyprus - sent us, free of charge, two new euro cheque books. One was for our current account, and the other for a 'B' account which we used to use for Richard's work, until he managed (after many complications) to set up a proper business account. So the 'B' account was closed by the time the cheque book arrived. But possibly only a week or two earlier.
There were letters with these cheque books, telling us we needed to validate them. There was a form to fill in our passport numbers, bank account number, first cheque number in the book, and a signature. I have no idea why they needed this information, since they have it already - but it wasn't a big deal. It also seemed rather unnecessary in July since we can't use the cheque books until January. So I put them aside for a few months, along with the letters.
Last week, Richard was in the bank (drawing out a large sum of money so he could pay cash for our car tax) and the very efficient girl at the desk said that we would need euro cheque books. Well, she's usually efficient.... She told him that we needed one for his new work account, and one for our personal account. She assured him that we didn't have any yet, and we would need them by the beginning of January. So he ordered one of each, and they charged us £6 for each of them.
We only get through about half a cheque book in a year, so having two new ones seems a bit excessive, but I just shrugged when he told me. Too late to cancel the order, and it means we won't have to order another one for three or four years, probably. Perhaps the girl didn't know we already had a euro cheque book because I hadn't validated it.
So I got out the paperwork, filled in the information, and took it into the bank today. Along with the 'B' account cheque book which is useless, as the account is closed. As I stood in the queue, the usually-efficient girl glanced up and saw me. 'Ah, Mrs Susan!' she called (while serving another customer). 'I have a cheque book for you!' - and she held out to me a new euro-cheque book, past the customer she was dealing with. I didn't have to sign for it, or authorise it, or validate it at all.
That's the friendly, personal side of Cyprus banking.
When it was finally my turn (at a different checker), clutching one new euro-cheque book, I handed in the paperwork to validate the other one. Then I also passed over the euro-cheque book for the 'B' account, and said that it was no good because the account was closed. The guy behind the desk typed in the number on his computer, agreed that the account was closed, and shrugged. I asked what we could do with the cheque book, and he mimed tearing it up, then said they would throw it away.
Ah well. I could have done that. At least they didn't charge us for it.