Biannual information on euro banknote counterfeiting

11 July 2007

In the first half of 2007 a total of 265,000 counterfeit euro banknotes were withdrawn from circulation. The following half-yearly figures show that the level of counterfeiting has fluctuated only slightly over the last four years:

Period 2003/2 2004/1 2004/2 2005/1 2005/2 2006/1 2006/2 2007/1
Number of counterfeits 312,000 307,000 287,000 293,000 286,000 300,000 265,000 265,000

When these figures are compared with the number of genuine euro banknotes in circulation (on average 11 billion during the first half of 2007), the quantity of counterfeits is very small indeed.

The overwhelming majority (97%) of counterfeits recovered in the first half of 2007 were again found in euro area countries. Approximately 3% came from EU Member States outside the euro area and only a very small number from the other parts of the world.

The breakdown of these counterfeits by denomination is as follows:

€5 €10 €20 €50 €100 €200 €500
Breakdown by denomination (in %) 1 3 15 50 20 10 1

The €50 was the most counterfeited banknote in the first half of 2007, accounting for around a half of the total counterfeits found in circulation. The three mid-range denominations (€20, €50 and €100) between them accounted for about 85% of all counterfeits.

The public can have confidence in the quality of euro banknotes and their security features. At the same time, the Eurosystem, i.e. the European Central Bank (ECB) and the 13 national central banks of the euro area, continues to advise the public to be alert and to check the authenticity of the banknotes that they receive. Counterfeits can be easily distinguished from genuine banknotes by using the simple FEEL-LOOK-TILT test described in the Eurosystem’s publications and on the ECB’s website and the websites of the Eurosystem national central banks. But in cases of doubt, a suspect banknote should be compared directly with one that is known to be genuine. Anyone who suspects they may have received a counterfeit should contact either the police or – where national practice allows – the respective national central bank, giving as many details as possible about the banknote’s origin.

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