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Fewer counterfeit banknotes in Germany

Fewer counterfeit banknotes in Germany

25.01.2019 | Deutsche Bundesbank DE

Clear decline in counterfeit banknotes

In 2018, the Bundesbank registered approximately 58,000 counterfeit euro banknotes with a nominal value of €3.4 million, representing a 20% decrease year on year. Statistically, this equates to seven counterfeit banknotes per 10,000 inhabitants. 

“There has been a clear decline in the number of counterfeits thanks to the introduction of the new Europa series of banknotes with their enhanced anti-counterfeiting features,” commented Johannes Beermann, the Deutsche Bundesbank Executive Board member responsible for overseeing cash management. “There are far fewer counterfeit €20 notes in circulation. There has also been a marked decline in the number of forged €50 notes, which constitute around 70% of all counterfeits, making them the most frequently counterfeited denomination.”

The distribution of counterfeits across the denominations in 2018 was as follows.

NotesNumberShare (rounded)
€54611 %
€101,1732 %
€209,09516 %
€5041,93372 %
€1003,5146 %
€2006981 %
€5001,1462 %
Total58,020 

At around 26,900, the number of counterfeits detected in the second half of 2018 was lower than the figure for the first half of the year (31,100).

Recognising counterfeit banknotes

Anyone can check banknotes themselves using the quick “feel-look-tilt” test. Counterfeit money is not eligible for replacement.

Several security features can be checked using this test.

  • Feel:
    • Banknote paper has a special texture. It feels crisp and firm (Exception: €5 and €10 notes are coated and therefore feel smooth and firm.). It is often possible to identify simple counterfeits just by feeling the banknote. However, to be on the safe side, we recommend 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 show the letters “BCE ECB EЦБ EZB EKP EKT EKB BĊE EBC” (and “ESB” on denominations of €50 and above) across their top 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 silhouetted 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’s face.
  • 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.

When checking a suspect banknote, it is advisable to compare it with one that is known to be genuine.

Clear decline in counterfeit banknotes

In 2018, approximately 33,000 counterfeit coins were detected in German payments, compared with around 32,500 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 2018 was as follows.

CoinsNumberShare (rounded)
50 cents1,2524 %
€13,88812 %
€227,96284 %
Total33,102 

At roughly 16,100, the number of counterfeit coins detected in the second half of 2018 was lower than the figure registered in the first six months of the year (around 17,000).

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. Features that can be checked using magnifying glasses, counterfeit detector markers or ultraviolet lamps are also explained. However, these tools, which are often used in the commercial sector, should always be combined with a check of other security features. 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).

If you think you may have received a counterfeit banknote, please contact one of the Bundesbank’s 35 branches or your own bank; alternatively, you can send it to the Bundesbank’s counterfeit money unit. To ensure that important information concerning people who circulate counterfeits is not lost, you should immediately notify the police of clearly identifiable counterfeit banknotes and coins and hand these in to them.

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