100 euro banknotes ©Nils Thies

Significant rise in number of counterfeit banknotes

Counterfeit euro banknotes in Germany by denomination
In the first half of 2020, the Bundesbank recorded approximately 34,000 counterfeit euro banknotes with a nominal value of €1.6 million. This means that the number of counterfeits rose by 24% compared with the second half of 2019. 

There has been a marked rise in the number of counterfeit €10 and €20 notes as a share of the total figure compared with previous years,” said Johannes Beermann, the member of the Bundesbank’s Executive Board responsible for overseeing cash management. “However, these were mostly simple printed counterfeits without security features. Such counterfeits are actually easy to identify, as the words “movie money” are printed on the front or “prop copy” on the reverse,” Mr Beermann added.

Movie money

Since the second half of 2019, these modified banknote images from the Far East have increasingly infiltrated payment transactions. For example, banknote reproductions are offered on well-known internet trading platforms and are advertised as toy money or film props.

High percentage of €10 and €20 counterfeit

The €10 and €20 fake banknotes now account for 46% of the overall volume of counterfeits, while the figure in the second half of 2019 was still 34%. Overall, the incidence of counterfeits in Germany remains low. The likelihood of coming into contact with counterfeit money in Germany is still remote. Statistically, it equates to around eight counterfeit banknotes for every 10,000 inhabitants per year.

The table below shows the distribution of counterfeits across the various denominations in the first half of 2020.



Share (rounded)



1 %



17 %



29 %



40 %



9 %



1 %



2 %



Hardly any change in number of counterfeit coins

In the first half of 2020, just under 22,400 counterfeit coins were also registered in German payments. In the second half of 2019, this figure had stood at around 22,300 counterfeit coins. Forged €2 coins alone made up 90% of the counterfeits in the first half of 2020.

Counterfeits were identified only in the three highest denominations, and their incidence in the first six months of 2020 was as follows.



Share (rounded)

50 Cent











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.