More counterfeits in Germany

Increase in the number of counterfeit €50 notes 

In the first half of 2014, the Bundesbank registered a total of just under 25,000 counterfeit euro banknotes with a nominal value of €1.5 million. This means that the number of counterfeits was up 27% on the second half of 2013. This equates statistically to six counterfeit banknotes per 10,000 inhabitants. Despite this increase, the number of counterfeit banknotes found in circulation is not a cause for concern.

The Eurosystem endeavours to always be one step ahead of counterfeiters. "We will be issuing a new €10 note with improved security features from 23 September 2014. This will further improve protection against counterfeiting," said Carl-Ludwig Thiele, Bundesbank Executive Board member responsible for cash management. The previous €10 notes will retain their validity and will gradually be replaced by the new series.    

The change in the incidence of counterfeit euro banknotes was due primarily to a rise in the number of counterfeit €50 notes. In the first half of 2014, these accounted for half of all counterfeit notes detected. "The increased losses due to counterfeit money are certainly regrettable, but the incidence of counterfeit notes and coins in Germany is still at an extremely low level in spite of this increase," said Thiele.     

The distribution of counterfeits across the individual euro denominations in the first half of 2014 was as follows.


Recognising counterfeit banknotes

Banknotes should be checked carefully at all times, as counterfeit money is not eligible for reimbursement. 

A number of different security features should always be checked, as it is only through a combination of these various features that the authenticity of euro 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”: a series of short lines on the left and right edges as well as the large value numeral
  • 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 euro banknotes ("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.

Reduction in the number of counterfeit coins

In the first half of 2014, approximately 20,000 counterfeit coins were detected in German payments. This figure had stood at around 24,000 in the previous six-month period. 

Counterfeits were identified in only the three highest denominations and were distributed in the first six months of 2014 as follows.


Coins50 cents€1€2Total

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. 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) can be ordered from the Bundesbank free of charge. An interactive learning program entitled "Detecting Counterfeits" (Falschgeld erkennen) can also be accessed online. 

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.

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.