Slight increase in counterfeit banknotes in Germany

But fewer counterfeit €50 notes

In the first half of 2019, the Bundesbank recorded approximately 27,600 counterfeit euro banknotes with a nominal value of €1.6 million. The number of counterfeits rose by 2.5% compared with the second half of 2018. “Statistically, this equates to around seven counterfeit banknotes for every 10,000 inhabitants per year”, said Johannes Beermann, member of the Bundesbank’s Executive Board. 

The incidence of counterfeit €50 notes continued to decline. They account for 65% of counterfeit banknotes; down from around 72% in the second half of 2018. “We expect the volume of counterfeits to fall in the second half of 2019 as the criminal investigation authorities have recently made significant headway in apprehending a number of international counterfeiting rings”, Mr Beermann continued. 

The table below shows the distribution of counterfeits across the various denominations in the first half of 2019.



Share (rounded)



1 %



1 %



22 %



65 %



8 %



1 %



2 %



The first banknote series continued to account for just under half (47%) of the counterfeits.

Recognising counterfeit banknotes

Anyone can check banknotes themselves using the quick “feel, look, tilt” method. We recommend checking more than one security feature.

  • Feel:
    • Banknote paper has a special texture. It feels crisp and firm. It is often possible to identify simple counterfeits just by feeling the banknote. €5 and €10 banknotes account for just under 3% of counterfeits. Genuine €5 and €10 banknotes of the Europa series are coated to increase the lifespan of the notes and therefore feel smooth and firm. Raised print on the front of the banknotes can be identified by touch. 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 left edge as well as a series of short lines on both 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 as counterfeit money is not eligible for reimbursement.

Increase in the number of counterfeit coins

In the first half of 2019, approximately 19,800 counterfeit coins were detected in German payments, compared with around 16,100 counterfeit coins in the second half of 2018. Statistically, this equates to around five 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 2019 was as follows.



Share (rounded)

50 cents


2 %



11 %



87 %



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.