Considerably more counterfeits in Germany

More counterfeit banknotes

In 2015, the Bundesbank registered approximately 95,500 counterfeit euro banknotes with a nominal value of €4.4 million, which represents a 51% increase year on year. Statistically, this equates to twelve counterfeit banknotes per 10,000 inhabitants.

"The rise in the number of counterfeits is worrying, but appropriate measures have already been taken, including, first and foremost, the introduction of a new series of banknotes with improved protection against counterfeiting," said Carl-Ludwig Thiele, the Bundesbank Executive Board member responsible for cash management. "Despite the increase in counterfeiting, the likelihood of the general public encountering counterfeit money remains very low in Germany.

The incidence of counterfeit euro banknotes in 2015 can be broken down as follows. 

Number 9911,52637,91646,5675,6082,03271795,357
Share (rounded)1%2%40%49%6%2%1% 

Fewer counterfeits (around 45,000 banknotes) were detected in the first half of 2015 than in the second half of the year (50,500).

Recognising counterfeit banknotes

Banknotes should always be carefully checked using the "feel, look and tilt" method, as counterfeit money is not eligible for reimbursement.

A number of different security features should always be checked, as it is only through a combination of these various features that the authenticity of euro banknotes can be verified.

  • For example, raised print on the front of the banknotes can be identified by touch.

    • First euro banknote series: the letters "BCE ECB EZB EKT EKP" near the top edge
    • New "Europa series": the letters "BCE ECB EЦБ EZB EKP EKT EKB BĊE EBC" as well as a series of short lines on the left and right edges
  • The watermark becomes visible in the unprinted area when the banknote is held against the light.
  • The hologram images change when the banknote is tilted.
  • On the back of the banknote, the glossy stripe (denominations up to €20) or the change in colour of the value numeral on the right-hand side (denominations from €50 upwards) can be checked by tilting the banknote.
  • In addition, the emerald number is visible on the left-hand side on the front of the new euro banknotes ("Europa series"). When the banknote is tilted, the emerald number changes colour and the effect of a light stripe moving up and down becomes visible.

When checking a suspect banknote, it is advisable to compare it with one that is known to be genuine, such as a banknote withdrawn from an ATM.  

Checking banknotes using a magnifying glass, counterfeit detector marker or an ultraviolet lamp does not always produce a clear-cut test result. It is therefore better to combine use of these tools with a check of other security features.

Fewer counterfeit coins

In 2015, approximately 34,000 counterfeit coins were detected in German payments, compared with around 46,000 coins in the previous year. Statistically, this equates to four counterfeit coins per 10,000 inhabitants in Germany. 

Counterfeits were identified in only the three highest denominations, and their incidence in 2015 was as follows. 

Coins50 cents€1€2Total
Number 1,3705,52127,23834,129
Share (rounded)4%16%80% 

At roughly 20,000, the number of counterfeit coins in the second half of 2015 exceeded the figure registered in the first six months of the year (around 14,500).

Checking coins for authenticity

The following pointers­ can make it easier to identify genuine coins. 

  • On genuine euro coins, the motif stands out clearly from the background of the coin. By contrast, the image on counterfeit coins often appears blurred, and the surface of the coins may be uneven.
  • Counterfeits generally differ slightly in colour from genuine coins.
  • The edge inscriptions of genuine €2 coins are sharp. Those on counterfeit coins are frequently incomplete or irregular.
  • Genuine €1 and €2 coins are only slightly magnetic. They are attracted to magnets but can be removed again with very little effort. Counterfeit coins, on the other hand, are usually either non-magnetic or are strongly attracted to magnets.

Counterfeit prevention

Through its branch network, the Bundesbank provides training courses free of charge to the banking industry, retailers and any other interested parties. Participants are given typical counterfeits to test using the "feel, look and tilt" method. Contact details for the branches may be found on the Bundesbank's website. In addition, information (in the form of brochures and posters) can be ordered from the Bundesbank free of charge. An interactive learning program entitled "Detecting Counterfeits" (Falschgeld erkennen) can also be accessed online (German only).

Information on this subject is updated regularly on the Bundesbank's website, the European Central Bank's website, and on the German police force's website (German only).

To ensure that important information concerning people who pass counterfeits is not lost, the Bundesbank strongly advises the general public to immediately notify the police of counterfeit banknotes and coins and to hand these in to the police.