Fewer counterfeits in circulation in Germany

Trend decline in counterfeit banknotes

In 2013, the Bundesbank detected approximately 39,000 counterfeit euro banknotes with a nominal value of Euro2.1 million. This means that the number of counterfeits fell by around 6 % compared with the previous year (41,500). This equates statistically to five counterfeit banknotes per 10,000 inhabitants.

At the beginning of May 2013, the new Euro5 banknote was introduced, thereby marking the launch of the new "Europa" series. This will be followed by the release of the new Euro10 banknote in September 2014. "With the introduction of the new Euro10 banknote of the 'Europa' series on 23 September 2014, the counterfeit protection will be improved even further," said Carl-Ludwig Thiele, Bundesbank Executive Board member responsible for cash management. "The new banknotes are not only more secure, they are also easier to check," Mr Thiele stressed.   

This decline in the incidence of counterfeit euro banknotes was due primarily to a drop in the number of counterfeit Euro20 notes. Nevertheless, the Euro20 note was still the most frequently counterfeited denomination in Germany in 2013. The decline in the incidence of Euro200 notes by 33 % compared with the previous year was also a major contributing factor in this downward trend. By contrast, a significant increase was recorded in the incidence of counterfeit Euro10 notes. 

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




1 %4 %39 %38 %13 %3 %1 % 

At around 19,350, the total number of counterfeits recorded in the second half of 2013 was slightly lower than in the first half of the year (19,500).

Recognising counterfeit banknotes

Despite the decline in counterfeit money, banknotes should be checked carefully at all times, as counterfeits are not reimbursable.

Several security features should always be checked, as it is only through a combination of these various features that the authenticity of the 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: 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 Euro20) or the change in colour of the value numeral on the right-hand side (denominations from Euro50 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 Euro5 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.

Virtually no change in the number of counterfeit coins      

In 2013, approximately 52,000 counterfeit coins were detected in German payments, which was on a level with the figure for the previous year. Annually, there were thus around six counterfeit coins per 10,000 inhabitants in Germany.

Counterfeits were identified in only the three highest denominations and were distributed in 2013 as follows. 

Coins50 centEuro1Euro2Total



5 %15 %80 % 

At 23,625, the number of counterfeit coins in the second half of 2013 was lower than that registered in the first half of the year (28,438).

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 Euro2 coins are sharp. Those on counterfeit coins are frequently incomplete or irregular.
  • Genuine Euro1 and Euro2 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 brochures and posters and an interactive learning program entitled "Detecting Counterfeits" (Falschgeld erkennen) can be ordered from the Bundesbank free of charge.

Information on this subject are available on the Bundesbank's website, the European Central Bank's website or the German police force's website (German only) all of which are updated regularly.

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.