Rise in the number of counterfeits in Germany

Higher incidence of counterfeit €20 and €50 banknotes

In the first half of 2015, the Bundesbank registered approximately 50,500 counterfeit euro banknotes with a nominal value of €2.2 million. This means that the number of counterfeits rose by 31% compared with the second half of 2014. Statistically, this equates to 12 counterfeit banknotes per 10,000 inhabitants. 

"Despite this rise, the incidence of counterfeits in Germany remains low. That said, it is important to further strengthen the joint efforts of the police and the Eurosystem in combatting counterfeits," said Carl-Ludwig Thiele, the Bundesbank Executive Board member responsible for cash management.

Counterfeiting crime focused even more heavily on €20 and €50 banknotes than in the previous year, accounting for nearly 90% of all counterfeits seized. "With the introduction of the new €20 banknote from the Europa series on 25 November 2015, we will replace the first denomination that has become a particularly popular target for counterfeiters. The new Europa series has significantly improved protection against counterfeiting," continued Mr Thiele.

The incidence of counterfeit euro banknotes in the first half of 2015 can be broken down as follows.














1.0 %

1.6 %

41.1 %

48.3 %

5.4 %

2.0 %

0.5 %


Recognising counterfeit banknotes

Banknotes should always be carefully checked 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 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": the letters "BCE ECB EЦБ EZB EKP EKT EKB BĊE EBC" as well as a 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 €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 the use of these tools with a check of other security features.

Reduction in the number of counterfeit coins

In the first half of 2015, just under 14,500 counterfeit coins were detected in German­ payments. This figure had stood at 26,000 in the previous six-month period. There are thus around four counterfeit coins per 10,000 inhabitants in Germany.

Counterfeits were identified in only the three highest denominations, and their incidence in the first six months of 2015 can be broken down as follows.


50 cents








5.2 %

15.7 %

79.1 %


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