Fewer counterfeit banknotes in circulation

In the first half of 2022, around 19,800 counterfeit euro banknotes with a nominal value of just under €1 million were withdrawn from circulation in Germany. The number of counterfeits fell by 3.9% compared with the second half of 2021. This equates to five counterfeit banknotes per 10,000 inhabitants.

There has been a declining trend in counterfeit money since 2016,” said Johannes Beermann, the Bundesbank Executive Board member whose remit includes cash management. “This is thanks to the advanced security features on the banknotes and the information campaigns and training courses run by the Bundesbank, but also thanks to smooth cooperation with law enforcement authorities,” Mr Beermann explained.

Since 2015, the financial losses caused by counterfeit money have decreased from one year to the next. However, the percentage of counterfeits of higher denomination banknotes grew in the first half of 2022, increasing the loss arising from counterfeiting compared with the previous six months (+11%).

The table below shows the distribution of counterfeits across the various denominations in the first half of 2022 and the change in the loss arising from counterfeits compared with the second half of 2021.

Counterfeit banknotes

H1 2022

Share (%)

Loss amount

Change on previous half-year (%)







































The proportion of simple counterfeits with the words “movie money” printed on the obverse side or “prop copy” on the reverse is still very high. “These banknotes can be identified as counterfeits simply by looking at them,” according to Mr Beermann.

Movie money

Recognising counterfeit banknotes

As counterfeit banknotes are not replaced, banknotes should be checked using the “feel, look, tilt” method. It is advisable to compare a suspect banknote with one definitely known to be genuine and to always check more than one security feature. 

All counterfeits can be identified by the following authentication features:

  • Feel:
    • Banknote paper feels crisp and firm. [1] It is possible to identify simple counterfeits just by feeling the banknote. However, to be on the safe side, the Bundesbank recommends checking other features as well.
    • Raised print on the front of the banknotes can be identified by touch. For example, banknotes belonging to the Europa series have the letters “BCE ECB EЦБ EZB EKP EKT EKB BĊE EBC” (and “ESB” on denominations of €50 and above) down their left edge as well as a series of short lines on the left and right-hand edges.
  • Look:
    • When any banknote is held against the light, the watermark appears as a shadowy image in the unprinted area. 
    • On denominations of €20 and above belonging to the Europa series, the upper section of the hologram contains a transparent window showing a portrait of Europa, a figure from Greek mythology.
  • Tilt:
    • The hologram images change when the banknote is tilted. Rainbow-coloured effects appear around the motifs.
    • An emerald number can also be seen on the bottom left-hand side on the front of the banknotes belonging to the 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.
    • ­ The €100 and €200 euro banknote have been equipped with new and improved security features. The emerald number contains several euro symbols that change in size and colour. The hologram contains a satellite feature showing two euro symbols that move around the denomination number.

Number of counterfeit coins distorted by one-off effect

While the volume of counterfeit coins was around 26,600 in the second half of 2021, approximately 32,600 counterfeit coins were detected in German payments in the first half of 2022. This equates to around eight counterfeit coins per 10,000 inhabitants in Germany per year during the first six months of 2022. However, this increase was due to a special circumstance: an enterprise had been collecting suspected counterfeit coins during processing for a period of 13 years and had only submitted them to the Bundesbank in 2022 as a single batch. Around 7,200 of the coins contained in this submission were counterfeit. Excluding this one-off effect, the number of counterfeit coins would have amounted to just 25,400 in the first half of 2022 – a decline compared with the second half of 2021. 

Counterfeits were identified only in the three highest denominations, and their incidence in the first six months of 2022 was as follows.



Share (rounded)

50 cent











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. In addition, the below listed learning programs (German only) can be accessed via the Bundesbank’s website.

Information (in the form of brochures and posters) may also be ordered from the Bundesbank free of charge.

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 you to notify the police of counterfeit banknotes and coins immediately and to hand these in to the police.


  1. Exception: €5 and €10 banknotes are coated and therefore feel smooth and firm. Since the second half of 2020, coated €20 banknotes have also been introduced into circulation in the Eurosystem. This means that both coated and uncoated €20 banknotes will be encountered in payments.