Fewer counterfeit banknotes in Germany

In 2017, the Bundesbank registered approximately 73,000 counterfeit euro banknotes with a nominal value of €4.1 million, representing an 11% decrease year on year. The €4.1 million loss (not including counterfeit coins) is lower than the figure for 2016, when the loss arising from counterfeiting had amounted to €4.2 million.

Slight decline in the number of counterfeit €50 notes already apparent

The European Central Bank (ECB) and the Eurosystem national central banks are continuously working towards making euro banknotes even more secure against counterfeiting. As a result, it is becoming increasingly difficult to produce counterfeit money. "The introduction of the Europa series with improved protection against counterfeiting has led to a lower incidence of counterfeits. In particular, the number of counterfeit €20 banknotes has declined significantly," said Carl-Ludwig Thiele, the Bundesbank Executive Board member responsible for cash management. "There has also already been a slight decrease in the number of counterfeit €50 notes in circulation."

Conterfeit euro banknotes in Germany by denomination

Overall the incidence of counterfeits in Germany remains low. In 2017, around two-thirds of all counterfeit banknotes were €50 notes. The following table shows the distribution of counterfeits in 2017, broken down by denomination.

Notes Number

Share (rounded)
























Slightly fewer counterfeit coins in circulation

The number of counterfeit coins in circulation in Germany also fell slightly in 2017. Approximately 32,500 counterfeit coins were detected in German payments, compared with around 33,000 in 2016.

All counterfeits were of the three highest denominations, with the  €2 euro coin alone accounting for a share of around 83%. The following table shows the distribution of counterfeits across the individual denominations in 2017.

Coins Number

Share (rounded)

50 cents











Slight rise in counterfeit banknotes in the euro area

According to the European Central Bank, the number of counterfeit banknotes in the euro area as a whole rose slightly in 2017 but remains at a low level. A total of 694,000 counterfeit banknotes were removed from circulation, representing a 1.5% increase against the previous year. Around 52.5% of all recorded counterfeits were €50 notes. Since the introduction of the Europa series €20 note, the share of counterfeit €20 notes has fallen to 35.2%, now making it only the second most frequently counterfeited banknote denomination. The loss in the euro area in 2017 arising from counterfeits was lower than in the previous year, totalling €35 million compared with €40 million in 2016.

Counterfeit euro banknotes in the euro area

Checking banknotes for authenticity

The Bundesbank advises that banknotes and coins should be checked carefully at all times. As counterfeit money is non-refundable, banknotes should be checked for authenticity using the "feel, look and tilt" method. There are a number of different security features that should be checked in the process:

  • Raised print on the front of the banknotes can be identified by touch.

    • First series of euro banknotes: the letters "BCE ECB EZB EKT EKP" near the top edge
    • Europa series of banknotes: the letters "BCE ECB EЦБ EZB EKP EKT EKB BĊE EBC" as well as a series of short lines on the left and right-hand edges
  • The watermark appears as a silhouetted image in the unprinted area when the banknote is held against the light. The upper section of the hologram contains a transparent window (denominations of €20 and above) displaying a portrait of Europa.
  • The hologram images change when the banknote is tilted.
  • On the reverse side of the banknotes of the first series, the value numeral on the right-hand side changes from red to green (denominations of €50 and above) when the banknote is tilted.
  • An emerald number can be seen on the 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, 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.

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.

Our range of counterfeit prevention workshops and multimedia resources

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. The contact details of our branches can 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).