Fewer counterfeit banknotes in Germany

No change in the number of €50 counterfeits

In the first half of 2018, the Bundesbank recorded approximately 31,100 counterfeit euro banknotes with a nominal value of €1.8 million. The number of counterfeits fell by 6.2 % compared with the second half of 2017. “Statistically, this equates to around seven counterfeit banknotes for every 10,000 inhabitants per year”, said Dr Johannes Beermann, member of the Bundesbank’s Executive Board. “The incidence of counterfeits has declined slightly on the whole.”

The €50 denomination is the most frequently counterfeited banknote. Around 72 % of all counterfeit banknotes are €50 banknotes, with over 80 % of these stemming from the first series of euro banknotes. “The number of €50 counterfeits is expected to decrease as more banknotes from the first series are replaced by those from the Europa series”, Mr Beermann explained. A similar development was observed when the first series of €20 banknotes was phased out. In the first half of 2018, the number of counterfeit €20 banknotes as a share of the total volume of counterfeit notes declined by four percentage points compared with the second half of 2017.

The following table shows the distribution of counterfeits across the individual denominations for the first half of 2018.



Share (rounded)



1 %



2 %



16 %



72 %



6 %



1 %



2 %



Recognising counterfeit banknotes

Banknotes should always be checked carefully 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 the combination of these various features that the authenticity of euro banknotes can be verified.

  • 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

    • Europa series of banknotes: the letters "BCE ECB EЦБ EZB EKP EKT EKB BĊE EBC" (and "ESB" on denominations of €50 above) as well as a series of short lines on the left and right-hand edges

  • The watermark appears as a silhouetted image in the unprinted area when the banknote is held against the light. The upper section of the hologram contains a transparent window (denominations of €20 and above) displaying a portrait of Europa.

  • The hologram images change when the banknote is tilted.

  • On the reverse side of the banknotes of the first series, the value numeral on the right-hand side changes from red to green (denominations of €50 and above) when the banknote is tilted.

  • An emerald number can be seen on the 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.

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 the use of these tools with a check of other security features.

Increase in the number of counterfeit coins

In the first half of 2018, approximately 17,100 counterfeit coins were detected in German payments, compared with around 14,000 counterfeit coins in the second half of 2017. Statistically, this equates to around four counterfeit coins per 10,000 inhabitants in Germany per year.

Counterfeits were identified only in the three highest denominations, and their incidence in the first six months of 2018 was as follows.



Share (rounded)

50 cents


4 %



13 %



83 %



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