Fewer counterfeit banknotes and coins in circulation

Trend decline in counterfeit banknotes

In the first half of 2013 the Bundesbank detected around 19,500 counterfeit euro banknotes. This means that the number of counterfeits was down by 13.6 per cent compared with the second half of 2012. This equates statistically to around five counterfeit banknotes per 10,000 inhabitants. The loss incurred as a result of counterfeit banknotes was below € 1.1 million.

“Preventive work is probably one of the main reasons for this gratifying development,” said Mr Helmut Rittgen, Head of the Deutsche Bundesbank’s Cash Department. “The greatest risk of coming across counterfeit money is in the retail sector,” Mr Rittgen continued. For this reason, the Bundesbank has increasingly provided training for cashiers working at retail outlets as well as in hotels and catering. These training measures are also aimed at career entrants.

The distribution of counterfeits across the individual euro denominations in the first half of 2013 was as follows.

Notes5€ 10€20€50€ 100€ 200€500€ Gesamt









Per cent








 100 %

The € 20 banknote was again the most frequently counterfeited denomination. However, the considerable decline in the incidence of counterfeit € 20 banknotes in the first half of the year played a major part in the lower incidence of counterfeit banknotes in Germany on the whole.

Recognising counterfeit banknotes

Despite the decline in counterfeit money, banknotes should always be examined carefully, as counterfeit money is not eligible for reimbursement.

Checks should include a number of security features, as a banknote can be identified as authentic only by examining a combination of the various features.

  • 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 series of € 5 banknotes (“Europa series”): stripes on the right and left-hand 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 € 5 banknote (“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, for example 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.

Slight decline in counterfeit coins

In the first half of 2013, approximately 28,500 counterfeit coins were detected in German payments. This figure had stood at around 29,500 in the previous six-month period. Annually, there are therefore around seven counterfeit coins per 10,000 inhabitants in Germany.

Counterfeits were identified in only the three highest denominations and were distributed as follows in the first six months of 2013.

Coins50 Cent 1€2€Gesamt





Per Cent

7 %

14 %

79 %

 100 %

Checking coins for authenticity

Counterfeit euro coins can usually be distinguished from genuine coins only after a very thorough visual inspection. 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, while those on counterfeit coins are frequently incomplete or irregular.
  • Genuine € 1 and € 2 coins are only slightly magnetic. They remain 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 for 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 at "Further Information".

In addition, information (in the form of brochures and posters) and a new interactive learning program entitled “Detecting Counterfeits” (Falschgeld erkennen) can be ordered from the Bundesbank free of charge. Information on this subject may be found at the Bundesbank's website, the European Central Bank's website or the German police force's website, all of which are updated regularly.

To ensure that important information concerning people who bring counterfeits into circulation is not lost, the Bundesbank strongly advises that you notify the police of counterfeit banknotes and coins immediately and hand them to the police.