Counterfeit banknotes are rare, but it is always a good idea to check your notes whenever exchanging them with someone to ensure they are genuine.
There are many security features incorporated into banknotes that make them difficult to recreate. Many of these features can be checked manually using the 3 step security check Feel-Look-Tilt test.
- The paper is crisp and firm.
- The paper will have raised ink areas on the front of the note.
- Hold the note up to a light and look for watermarks (see-through areas of the note) including:
- Architectural design similar to the main design of the note.
- A number watermark underneath.
- Barcode watermark in the centre (Euro Series 1 notes only).
- Europa portrait (Euro Series 2 notes only).
- Security thread down the centre of the note with perforations of denomination.
- Perforations in the holographic foil showing the denomination, euro symbol and Europa portrait (Euro Series 2 notes only).
- See through number at the top left of the note (Euro Series 1 notes only).
- The holographic stripe or patch will change images and colours.
- The iridescent stripe on the back of the lower denominations will shine and fade (Euro Series 1 notes only).
- The opti-variable ink covering the numeral on the back of the higher denominations will change colour (Euro Series 1 notes only).
- The emerald number in the bottom left corner on the banknote’s front side displays an effect of the light that moves up and down. The number also changes colour from emerald green to deep blue (Euro Series 2 notes only).
- Most notes are embossed, usually the writing or the logo. The note should feel crisp, not limp, waxy or shiny. Security paper and special printing processes give banknotes a unique feel.
- Print lines should be sharp and well defined with no blurred edges. The colours should be clear and distinct with no hazy fringes.
- Check for the watermark image and security thread. The watermark should be hardly apparent until the note is held against a bright light source. Check for hologram features on some of the notes.
Some other tips to avoid counterfeit banknotes:
- UV light – Under ultraviolet (UV) light, barcodes are visible.
- Compare – Compare both sides of the notes to one you know is genuine.
- Detector pen – Don’t rely entirely on the pen, use it as a guide. Be careful not to use the pen on ordinary paper as this will lower its effectiveness and may lead to a genuine note being marked as fake.
- Check – you can see a security thread embedded in the genuine note. If you hold the banknote against a bright light source you can see the watermark and the security thread on the note. The watermark is visible from the front and back of the note. The watermark comprises the main architectural motif and the value numeral of the note.
- For all bank notes, do not rely on just one feature to assess whether a note is genuine, check a few. If in doubt, refer the item to your local financial institution.
What to do if you suspect you have a counterfeit banknote?
If you believe you are in possession of a suspect counterfeit note you are obliged to submit it to your local financial institution, the Gardaí, or the Central Bank’s National Analysis Centre (NAC). A receipt should be obtained to confirm your submission of the suspect counterfeit as no refund will be given at this time.
If you suspect a sterling note is counterfeit, take it the Police as soon as possible. They will give you a receipt and send the note to the Bank of England for analysis. If the note is genuine, you will be reimbursed.