In 2023, approximately 467,000 counterfeit euro banknotes were removed from circulation. This represents one of the lowest levels historically in comparison to the total number of genuine banknotes in circulation. Over 70% of these counterfeit notes were in 20€ and 50€ denominations. Euro banknotes remain a secure and reliable means of payment. Their authenticity can be easily verified using the “feel, look, and tilt” method.
Although a small fraction, the quantity of counterfeit notes increased compared to 2022, a year that saw exceptionally low levels due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. However, the number of forgeries remained lower than in the years before the pandemic.
The 20€ and 50€ notes continued to be the most counterfeited, together accounting for over 70% of the total. The majority (97.2%) of these counterfeit notes were detected in eurozone countries, while 1.9% were found in EU member states not in the eurozone, and 0.9% in other parts of the world.
Most of these counterfeit notes are easily identifiable due to poor imitations of security features or their absence. While forgeries should not be a major concern for citizens, vigilance is advised. The banknotes can be easily recognized using the “feel, look, and tilt” method, as described on the European Central Bank’s website and the websites of national central banks in the Eurosystem. The Eurosystem also aids cash-handling professionals by ensuring that positively evaluated banknote processing machines reliably identify and remove counterfeit notes from circulation.
Using counterfeit banknotes is a criminal offense with potential legal consequences. If you receive a suspect note, compare it with one known to be genuine. If suspicions are confirmed, report it to the police or, depending on national practice, to your national central bank or bank branch. The Eurosystem actively supports law enforcement agencies in the fight against currency counterfeiting.