Bargeld Schein Übergabe ©Nils Thies

Fewer counterfeit banknotes in circulation

Counterfeit euro banknotes in Germany by denomination
In the first half of 2022, the Bundesbank withdrew approximately 19,800 counterfeit euro banknotes with a nominal value of just under €1 million from circulation. This represents a decline of 3.9% compared with the second half of 2021. Statistically, this equates to five counterfeit banknotes per 10,000 inhabitants.

“There has been a declining trend in counterfeit money since 2016,” said Johannes Beermann, the Bundesbank Executive Board member whose remit includes cash management. “This is thanks to the advanced security features on the banknotes and the information campaigns and training courses run by the Bundesbank, but also thanks to smooth cooperation with law enforcement authorities,” Mr Beermann explained.

Share of higher-denomination counterfeits increased

The €50 banknote was a particularly popular denomination among counterfeiters, accounting for around 42% of all counterfeit banknotes. The €20 banknote followed in second place, at around 35%. As in previous years, the counterfeits were mainly simple printed counterfeit banknotes with the words “MovieMoney” printed on the obverse side or “Prop copy” on the reverse.

However, in the first half of 2022 the share of counterfeits of larger denominations increased, causing the volume of losses to rise compared with the second half of 2021, from €0.89 million to €0.99 million. The impact of the lifting of coronavirus restrictions in the spring on the number of counterfeits will probably become evident in the second half of the year, according to Mr Beermann.

The table below shows the distribution of counterfeits across the various denominations in the first half of 2022 and the change in the loss arising from counterfeits compared with the second half of 2021.



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More counterfeit coins

There was a significant increase of 22.9% in the number of counterfeit coins compared with the second half of 2021. However, this figure is skewed somewhat by the fact that one enterprise had been collecting suspected counterfeit coins during processing over a period of several years and had delivered them to the Bundesbank in a single batch, in which around 7,200 of the coins were counterfeit. Excluding this one-off effect, the number of counterfeit coins would have amounted to just 25,400 in the first quarter of 2022 – a decline compared with the second half of 2021.

Counterfeits were identified only in the three highest denominations, and their incidence in the first six months of 2022 was as follows.



Share (rounded)

50 cents











Recognising counterfeit banknotes

Anyone can check banknotes themselves using the quick “feel, look, tilt” method. Counterfeit money is not eligible for replacement.

Several security features can be checked using this test.

  • 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. However, to be on the safe side, we recommend checking other features as well.
    • Raised print on the front of the banknotes can be identified by touch, for example. 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 top edge as well as a series of short lines on the left and right-hand 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.
    • The €100 and €200 banknotes have been equipped with new and improved security features. The emerald number contains several euro symbols that change in size and colour. The hologram contains a satellite feature showing two euro symbols that move around the denomination number.

When checking a suspect banknote, it is advisable to compare it with one that is known to be genuine.

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. Features that can be checked using magnifying glasses, counterfeit detector markers or ultraviolet lamps are also explained. However, these tools, which are often used in the commercial sector, should always be combined with a check of other security features. Contact details for the branches may be found on the Bundesbank's website.