Counterfeit Money

Information about the Counterfeit Money Unit

The Counterfeit Money Unit's task is to examine and store counterfeit money of any currency which is seized in Germany or confiscated by the police. We also check the authenticity of securities, traveller's cheques and gold and silver coins which are legal tender. Another focal point of our work is to prevent the circulation of counterfeit money.

If you require information about counterfeit money, please contact the Counterfeit Money Unit H 31.

How can I recognise counterfeit banknotes?

All counterfeits of modern banknotes, including the euro, can be generally recognised without too much difficulty. Gross discrepancies in format, colour or picture elements are rare. The differences can only be seen upon much closer examination - by looking at the security features. Here are some tips.

We offer training courses (in German only) in the detection of counterfeit euro banknotes free of charge at our branches. For a list of our branches and contact information, please visit our Branches page (see below).

Current data on the incidence of counterfeit currency are given in the Deutsche Bundesbank press release.

Advice on how to recognise counterfeit money

  1. Look at your money very closely. Don't go by the overall impression; concentrate instead on the individual security features that you already recognise.
  2. Don't focus on just one security feature when checking the banknote.
  3. Apply the "feel, look, tilt" principle to examine the security features that you recognise and if possible, check the banknote using a counterfeit detector.
  4. Find another banknote to compare it with.
  5. Still in doubt? Have the banknote(s) and/or coin(s) checked by your bank or by one of the branches of the Deutsche Bundesbank (euro only).

Which forms are to be used to submit suspected counterfeit banknotes and coins?

As from 1 April 2020, the following points regarding the submission of suspected counterfeit banknotes and coins must be observed:

  1. suspected counterfeit euro banknotes are, irrespective of why they were detained, to be submitted to the Deutsche Bundesbank using form 3156 “Antrag auf Überprüfung beigefügter falsch verdächtiger Euro-Banknoten”;
  2. suspected counterfeit euro coins, Deutsche Mark banknotes and coins as well as all suspected counterfeit monetary tokens of other currencies are to be submitted to the Bundesbank using form 3154 “Mitteilung über beigefügte falsch verdächtige Euro-Münzen/falsch verdächtige DM und ausländische Geldzeichen”.

Should you intend to send us suspected counterfeit currency by post using one of the forms provided below, please note that the Bundesbank cannot accept any liability for money lost en route. You are therefore advised to ask your postal or courier service provider whether and, if so, how cash (especially coins) can be sent, how it should be correctly and securely packed, as well as how it should be declared and, if necessary, insured.

What to do if the money is counterfeit?

As a rule, notify the police immediately if you have received counterfeit money (banknotes). Both counterfeit and suspected counterfeit coins are to be submitted to the relevant Bundesbank branch; further guidelines on how to proceed may be found in the category "Münz-Recycling" (in German only).

Using or returning counterfeit money is just as illegal as manufacturing it. Counterfeit money is not eligible for replacement! Therefore, you should not hand out the products before valid payment is made.

Section 36 of the Bundesbank Act requires the Deutsche Bundesbank, credit institutions and financial institutions to detain currency that is counterfeit or suspected of being counterfeit. Counterfeit currency is to be handed over to the police and currency suspected of being counterfeit to the Deutsche Bundesbank. Failure to seize or report counterfeit currency is subject to a fine of up to € 100,000.

How can I recognise counterfeit coins?

The basic guidelines for recognising counterfeit coins have been compiled in the „Falschgeldleitfaden“ (Guide to recognising counterfeit coins, available in German only) by the counterfeit money experts from the Deutsche Bundesbank in collaboration with the European Technical and Scientific Centre.

In accordance with article 3 paragraph 1 subparagraph b of Regulation (EU) 1210/2010 certain persons are obliged to receive training measures with regard to the detection of counterfeit coins, if they want to put back into circulation coins that have not been checked by means of counterfeit detection devices. As defined in article 6 paragraph 1 indent 1 and 2 of regulation (EU) 1338/2001, these obliged persons are staff members of credit institutions, bureaux d'exchange, transporters of funds and similar persons. On the other hand, persons just putting into circulation coins which beforehand have been checked by a suitable machine, and persons, who are not staff members of the institutions mentioned above, are not obliged. Obliged persons may request an appointment for a training measure via the contact form (contact form and training measure are only available in German).

Data on the incidence of counterfeit money are given in the Deutsche Bundesbank press release.

Information material for commercial banks, shops, traders, restaurants and other companies

To improve counterfeit protection, all professional cash handlers should be informed about the security features of banknotes and coins. To this end, the ECB offers information and training materials in all EU languages.

Submitting counterfeits and suspected counterfeits