Biannual information on euro banknote counterfeiting

10 July 2008

In the first half of 2008 a total of 312,000 counterfeit euro banknotes were withdrawn from circulation. Although this is an increase of 5.4% on the quantity recovered in the previous six months, the following table, which indicates the half-yearly trend in the number of counterfeits recovered, shows that the quantity has not varied greatly over recent years. It should be noted that since the second half of 2007 there has been an increase of 5.7% in the number of genuine banknotes in circulation.

Period 2003/2 2004/1 2004/2 2005/1 2005/2 2006/1 2006/2 2007/1 2007/2 2008/1
Number of counterfeits 312,000 307,000 287,000 293,000 286,000 300,000 265,000 265,000 296,000 312,000

When the figures in this table are compared with the number of genuine euro banknotes in circulation (on average 11.5 billion during the first half of 2008), the quantity of counterfeits is very small indeed.

The overwhelming majority (98%) of counterfeits recovered in the first half of 2008 were found in euro area countries, although this proportion is slightly smaller than in previous periods. Approximately 0.5% were found in EU Member States outside the euro area and the remainder in 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 %) 0.5 2 33 36 21.5 6.5 0.5

The €50 was the most counterfeited banknote in the first half of 2008. The three mid-range denominations (€20, €50 and €100) together accounted for about 90% 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 15 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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