Euro banknote

The euro banknotes are the banknotes of the euro, the currency of the Eurozone. The first series has been in circulation since 2002. They are issued by the National Central Banks of the Eurosystem or the European Central Bank.[1] In 1999 the euro was born virtually, and in 2002 notes and coins began to circulate. The euro rapidly took over from the former national currencies and slowly expanded around the European Union.

Denominations of the notes range from €5 to €500, and unlike euro coins, the design is identical across the whole of the Eurozone, although they are issued and printed in various member states. The euro banknotes are pure cotton fibre, which improves their durability as well as giving the banknotes a distinctive feel. They measure from 120 by 62 millimetres (4.7 in × 2.4 in) to 160 by 82 millimetres (6.3 in × 3.2 in) and have a variety of colour schemes. The euro notes contain many complex security features such as watermarks, invisible ink, holograms and microprinting that document their authenticity. While euro coins have a national side indicating the country of issue (although not necessarily of minting), euro notes lack this. Instead, this information is encoded within the first character of each note's serial number.

According to European Central Bank estimates, in December 2012, there were approximately 15,687,189,000 banknotes in circulation around the Eurozone. That is approximately €912,593,020,200 worth of banknotes. There are several communities of hobbyists, such as EuroBillTracker, that track euro banknotes by recording their numbers and monitoring their travel. EuroBillTracker had registered over 122.47 million notes as of 14 September 2013. That is over €2,328.89 million worth of banknotes.

On 8 November 2012, the European Central Bank announced the first series of notes will be replaced, starting with the 5 euro note on 2 May 2013. Europa will feature in the new series.


Main article: History of the euro

The euro came into existence on 1 January 1999.[2] The euro's creation had been a goal of the European Union (EU) and its predecessors since the 1960s.[2] The Maastricht Treaty entered into force in 1993 with the goal of creating economic and monetary union by 1999 for all EU states except the UK and Denmark (though Denmark has a fixed exchange rate policy with the euro).[3]

In 1999 the currency was born virtually,[2] and in 2002 notes and coins began to circulate.[2] It rapidly took over from the former national currencies and slowly expanded around the rest of the EU.[2] In 2009 the Lisbon Treaty formalised the Euro's political authority, the Euro Group, alongside the European Central Bank.[4]

Slovenia joined the Eurozone in 2007,[5] Cyprus and Malta in 2008,[6] Slovakia in 2009,[7] Estonia in 2011[8] and Latvia is set to join on 1 January 2014.[9]


There are seven different denominations of the euro banknotes—€5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500—,each having a distinctive colour and size.[10] The designs for each of them have a common theme of European architecture in various artistic eras.[10][11] The obverse of the banknote features windows or gateways while the reverse bears different types of bridges.[10][11] The architectural examples are stylised illustrations, not representations of existing monuments.[10][11]

2002 Series
Image Value Dimensions
Main Colour Design Printer code position
Obverse Reverse Architecture Century
€5 120 × 62 Grey Classical < 5th Left image edge[12]
€10 127 × 67 Red Romanesque 11–12th 8 o'clock star[13]
€20 133 × 72 Blue Gothic 12–14th 9 o'clock star[14]
€50 140 × 77 Orange Renaissance 15–16th Right image edge[15]
€100 147 × 82 Green Baroque & Rococo 17–18th Right of 9 o'clock star[16]
€200 153 × 82 Yellow The age of iron and glass 19–20th Above 7 o'clock star[17]
€500 160 × 82 Purple Modern 20th century 20–21st 9 o'clock star[18]
These images are to scale at 0.7 pixels per millimetre.

All the notes of the initial series of euro notes bear the EU Flag, a map of Europe on the reverse, the name "euro" in both Latin and Greek script (EURO / ΕΥΡΩ) and the signature of a president of the ECB, depending on when the banknote was printed.[10][11] The 12 stars from the EU Flag are also incorporated into every note.[10][11]

The notes also carry the initials of the European Central Bank in five linguistic variants, covering all official languages of the EU in 2002 (the time of the banknote introduction), and now 19 out of 24 official languages of the EU28, in the following order:[10]

The euro banknote initial designs were chosen from 44 proposals in a design competition, launched by the Council of the European Monetary Institute (EMI) on 12 February 1996.[38] The winning entry, created by Robert Kalina from the Oesterreichische Nationalbank, was selected on 3 December 1996.[38]

The euro banknotes are pure cotton fibre, which improves their durability as well as giving the banknotes a distinctive feel.[39]

In the first series, the Azores, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Madeira, Martinique, Réunion, and the Canary Islands, overseas territories of the eurozone member states, are under the map on the banknotes in separate boxes because they use the euro. Cyprus and Malta were not shown on the first series because they were not in the EU in 2002, when the banknotes were issued, even though they joined the Eurozone in 2008 and because the map did not stretch that far east for Cyprus and Malta was too small to be depicted, the minimum size for depiction being 400 km2.[11] However, both Cyprus and Malta are depicted on the 2013 series note.[40]

2013 Series (Europa Series)[41]
Image Value Dimensions
Main Colour Design Printer code position
Obverse Reverse Architecture Century
€5 120 × 62 Grey[40] Classical[40] < 5th[40] Top right
Unknown Unknown €10 127 × 67 Red[40] Romanesque[40] 11–12th[40] Unknown
Unknown Unknown €20 133 × 72 Blue[40] Gothic[40] 12–14th[40] Unknown
Unknown Unknown €50 140 × 77 Orange[40] Renaissance[40] 15–16th[40] Unknown
Unknown Unknown €100 147 × 82 Green[40] Baroque & Rococo[40] 17–18th[40] Unknown
Unknown Unknown €200 153 × 82 Yellow[40] The age of iron and glass[40] 19–20th[40] Unknown
Unknown Unknown €500 160 × 82 Purple[40] Modern 20th century[40] 20–21st[40] Unknown
These images are to scale at 0.7 pixels per millimetre.

The Europa series banknote, similarly to the first series, bears the EU Flag, a map of Europe on the reverse and the signature of Mario Draghi, current president of the ECB and the 12 stars from the EU Flag are also incorporated into the note.[10][11]

The banknote also has the name "euro", but in three scripts, in Latin, Greek and Cyrillic script (EURO / ΕΥΡΩ / EBPO).[40]

The note also carries the initials of the European Central Bank in nine linguistic variants, covering all official languages of the EU in the beginning of 2013 (the time of the banknote introduction), and now 23 out of 24 official languages of the EU28, in the following order (see above for details on the initials used already in the 2002 series):[40] BCE, ECB, ЕЦБ (Bulgarian: Европейската централна банка[42]), EZB, EKP, ΕΚΤ, EKB (Hungarian: Európai Központi Bank[43]), BĊE (Maltese: Bank Ċentrali Ewropew[44]), EBC (Polish: Europejski Bank Centralny[45]). Not covered by the initials is Croatian, which became an official language in July 2013 (the ECB name in Croatian is Europska središnja banka,[46] abbreviated ESB).

The Europa series euro banknotes are supposedly more durable than the first series banknotes.[40]

Reinhold Gerstetter, an independent banknote designer was chosen by the European Central Bank to redesign the euro notes.[40]


5 euro banknote under infrared light (Europa series)


Due to the great number of historic bridges, arches, and gateways throughout the European continent, all the structures represented on the notes are entirely stylised illustrations of the relevant architectural styles, designed to evoke the landmarks within the European Union,[10] representing various European ages and styles.[10] For example, the 5 euro note has a generic rendition of Classical architecture,[10] the 10 euro note of Romanesque architecture,[10] the 20 euro note of Gothic architecture,[10] the 50 euro note of the Renaissance,[10] the 100 euro note of Baroque and Rococo,[10] the 200 euro note of Art Nouveau[10] and the 500 euro note of modern architecture.[10] The initial designs by Robert Kalina were of actual bridges, including the Rialto Bridge in Venice and the Pont de Neuilly in Paris, and were subsequently rendered more generic.[47]


The euro banknotes have to bear the signature of the president of the European Central Bank.[11]

In the first series, banknotes printed after March 2012 bear the signature of the third, and incumbent ECB President, Mario Draghi.[11] Notes printed between November 2003 and March 2012 show the signature of Jean Claude Trichet, the second President of the ECB,[11][48] replacing that of the first president, Wim Duisenberg,[11] who was the ECB president when the first euro banknotes and coins were issued, till 2003.[11]

Only the signature of the third, incumbent ECB President, Mario Draghi features on the Europa series note.[11]

Security features

The European Central Bank has described some of the basic security features of the euro notes that allow the general public to recognise the authenticity of their currency at a glance.[49] However, in the interest of advanced security of the euro notes, the full list of these features is a closely guarded secret of the European Central Bank and the National Central Banks of the Eurosystem.

Still, between the official descriptions and independent discoveries made by observant users, it is thought that the euro notes have at least eleven different security features, which are:

  • Holograms[49] – The lower value notes carry a holographic band to the right of the obverse. This band contains the denomination, the euro sign, the stars of the EU flag and perforations in the shape of the euro sign. In the Europa series €5 banknote, there is Europa, a gate, 'EURO' and the euro sign, the number 5 and perforations in the shape of a euro sign.[41] The higher-value notes include a holographic decal containing the denomination, the obverse illustration, microprinting, and perforations in the shape of the euro sign.
  • Variable colour ink[49] – This appears on the lower right-hand side corner of the reverse of the higher-value notes. When observed from different angles, the colour will change from purple to olive green or brown. The ink is also on the left bottom on the Europa series €5 note.[41]
  • Checksum – Each note has a unique serial number. The remainder from dividing the serial number by 9 gives checksum corresponding to the initial letter indicated on the note.[50] Using a variation of the divisibility rule shortcut, the remainder from division by 9 can easily be found by adding the constituent digits and, if the sum still does not make the remainder obvious, adding the digits of the sum.[50] Alternatively, substituting the letter with its ASCII value makes the resulting number exactly divisible by 9. Taking the same example, Z10708476264, the ASCII code for Z is 90, so the resulting number is 9010708476264. Dividing by 9 yields a remainder of 0. Using the divisibility rule again, the result can be checked speedily since the addition of all digits gives 54; 5 + 4 = 9—so the number is divisible by 9, or 9010708476264 modulo 9 is 0.[50]
  • EURion constellation[51] – Euro banknotes contain a pattern known as the EURion constellation that can be used to detect their identity as banknotes to prevent copying and counterfeiting. Some photocopiers are programmed to reject images containing this pattern.
  • Watermarks – There are possibly four watermarks on the euro notes.[49][41][52] They are:
    • Standard watermark – Each denomination is printed on uniquely watermarked paper. This may be observed by holding the note up to the light. In the first series, the standard watermark is a gate/window that is depicted on the note and the denomination,[49] for the €5 of the Europa series, it is the face of Europa and the denomination as well.[41]
    • Digital watermark – Like the EURion constellation, a Digimarc digital watermark is embedded in the banknotes' designs. Recent versions of image editors, such as Adobe Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro refuse to process banknotes.[52] This system is called Counterfeit Deterrence System (CDS) and was developed by the Central Bank Counterfeit Deterrence Group.
    • Infrared and ultraviolet watermarks[49] – When seen in the near infrared, the banknotes will show darker areas in different zones depending on the denomination. Ultraviolet light will make the EURion constellation show in sharper contrast, and also some fluorescent threads stand out.
  • Security thread[49] – A black magnetic thread in the centre of the note is only seen against the light. It features the denomination of the note, along with the word "euro" in the Latin alphabet and the Greek alphabet.
  • Magnetic ink[49] – Some areas of the euro notes feature magnetic ink. For example, the rightmost church window on the €20 note is magnetic, as well as the large zero above it.
  • Microprinting[49] – The texture lines to the bottom, like those aligned to the right of ΕΥΡΩ mark on the €5 note, consist of the sequence "EURO ΕΥΡΩ" in microprinting.
  • Matted surface[49] – The euro sign and the denomination are printed on a vertical band that is only visible when lighted at an angle of 45°. This only exists for the lower-value notes.
  • Raised print – On every banknote, the initials of the ECB are in raised print. In the first series, every banknote has a bar with raised print lines. On the €200 note of the first series, there are lines at the bottom which are raised to make blind people able to identify the note. On the €500 note of the first series, these line are on the right-hand side.[49] On the €5 note of the Europa series, there are lines on both sides of the banknote.[41]
  • Bar code[49] – When held up to the light, dark bars can be seen to the right of the watermark. The amount and width of these bars indicates the denomination of the note. When scanned, these bars are converted to Manchester code.[53]
Manchester code[53]
Note Barcode Manchester
€5 0110 10 100
€10 0101 10 110
€20 1010 1010 0000
€50 0110 1010 1000
€100 0101 1010 1100
€200 0101 0110 1110
€500 0101 0101 1111

(looked at from the reverse, a dark bar is 1, a bright bar 0)

Europa series

The European Central Bank intends to redesign the notes every seven or eight years. A new series, called "the Europa series", is being released from 2013; the first notes entered circulation on 2 May 2013.[54] The new series include slight changes, notably the inclusion of the face of the mythological princess Europa in the watermark and in the hologram stripe.[55] New production and anti-counterfeiting techniques are employed on the new notes, but the design shares the colours of the current series and the theme of bridges and arches.[54] The new notes are nonetheless recognisable as a new series.[56]

The new notes also reflect the expansion of the European Union, every member of the EU is depicted on it. The initial series do not include the recent members Cyprus and Malta (Cyprus was off the map to the east and Malta was too small to be depicted.[11]).

It will be the first time when the Bulgarian Cyrillic alphabet is to feature on the banknotes as a result of Bulgaria joining the European Union in 2007. Therefore, the new series of Euro banknotes will include "EBPO", which is the Bulgarian spelling for EURO as well as the abbreviation "ЕЦБ" (short for Европейска централна банка in Bulgarian.).[57] The new banknotes will also feature the Maltese abbreviation BĊE (Bank Ċentrali Ewropew), the Hungarian abbreviation EKB (Európai Központi Bank) and the Polish abbreviation EBC (Europejski Bank Centralny). The modified 5 euro note features the initials of the European Central Bank in each of the contemporary EU member languages in a column on the left-hand side of the obverse.[57] The word "euro" in Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic lettering has also been moved to a more central position.[57]

The full design of the Europa series 5 euro banknote was revealed on 10 January 2013.[58] The new note has come into circulation on 2 May 2013. The old series will gradually be withdrawn. The ECB will announce in due course when the old notes will lose their legal tender status. However, they will not lose their value and it will be possible to exchange them for new notes at Eurosystem central banks indefinitely.[54]

Security features

  • Watermark: When the note is held under a normal light source, a portrait of Europa and an electrotype denomination appear on either side.[54][59]
  • Portrait Hologram: When the note is tilted, the silver-coloured holographic stripe reveals the portrait of Europa – the same one as in the watermark. The stripe also reveals a window and the value of the banknote.[54][59]
  • Colour changing ink: When the note is tilted, the number on the note displays an effect of light that moves up and down. The number also changes colour from emerald green to deep blue.[54][59]
  • Raised Printing: On the front of the note, there is a series of short raised lines on the left and right edges. The main edge, the lettering and the large value numeral also feel thicker.[54][59]
  • Security Thread: When the note is held against the light, the security thread appears as a dark line. The Euro symbol (€) and the value of the banknote can be seen in tiny white lettering in the thread.[54][59]
  • Microprinting: Tiny letters which can be read with a magnifying glass. The letters should be sharp, not blurred.[59]
  • Ultraviolet ink: Some parts of the banknote shine when under UV or UV-C light. These are the stars in the flag, the small circles, the large stars and several other areas on the front. On the back, a quarter of a circle in the centre as well as several other areas glow green. The horizontal serial number and a stripe appear in red.[59]
  • Infrared light: Under infrared light, the emerald number, the right side of the main image and the silvery stripe are visible on the obverse of the banknote, while on the reverse, only the denomination and the horizontal serial number are visible.[59]

Features for people with impaired sight

"A good design for the blind and partially sighted is a good design for everybody" was the principle behind the cooperation of the European Central Bank and the European Blind Union during the design phase of the first series banknotes in the 1990s.[60] As a result, the design of the first euro banknotes include several characteristics which aid both the blind and partially sighted to confidently use the notes.[60]

Features for the blind and visually impaired include:

Like in the designing process of the first series euro notes, visually impaired users were consulted during the design phase of the Europa series, and their requirements were included in the final designs.[41]


The European Central Bank closely monitors the circulation and stock of the euro coins and banknotes. It is a task of the Eurosystem to ensure an efficient and smooth supply of euro notes and to maintain their integrity throughout the Eurozone.[61]


As of June 2013, there were approximately 15,497,240,200 banknotes in circulation around the Eurozone.[61] That is approximately €911,008,762,200 worth of banknotes.[61] As of June 2013, there were:


The European Central Bank publishes information on the amount of counterfeit banknotes removed from circulation every 6 months.[62] It reported that 531,000 banknotes were removed from circulation in all of 2012,[63] compared to 606,000 in the previous year.[63] The ECB also said that, when compared to the amount of genuine banknotes, the proportion of fake euro notes remains low.[63] The amount of counterfeits taken out of circulation in 2012 is 318% larger than that of 2002 (167,118).[64][65]

In July 2013, the European Central Bank said that it removed 317,000 counterfeit euro banknotes from circulation in the first half of 2013, which is an increase of 26.3% from the first half of 2012.[66] However, the Bundesbank, in July 2013, stated that the amount of counterfeit euro notes fell by 13.6% in Germany in the first half of the year.[67] On the other hand, De Nederlandsche Bank said it withdrew around 19,400 counterfeit banknotes in the same period, which is an increase of 49% in comparison to the first two quarters of 2012.[68] The Central Banks also stated that most were fake €20 and €50 notes.[66][67][68]

According to the central banks, the ratio of counterfeited bank notes is about 10 in one million of real bank notes for the Swiss franc, of 50 in one million for the Euro, of 100 in one million for United States dollar and of 300 in one million for Pound sterling.[69]

Legal information

Legally, both the European Central Bank and the central banks of the Eurozone countries have the right to issue the 7 different euro banknotes.[2] In practice, only the NCBs of the zone physically issue and withdraw euro notes.[2] The European Central Bank does not have a cash office and is not involved in any cash operations.[2] However, the European Central Bank is responsible for overseeing the activities of national central banks in order to harmonise cash services in the Eurozone.[2]

Issuance and printing

The ECB has the exclusive right to authorise the issue of notes within the Eurozone, but most notes are actually issued by the National Central Banks (NCBs) of the Eurozone.[1] As of 2004, 8% of banknotes were issued by the European Central Bank and 92% were issued by Eurozone NCBs.[1] The issuing central bank can be seen from the serial number. Each NCB is now responsible for the production of certain denominations, as assigned by the ECB.[1]

1st series

Since 2002, euro notes have been printed by the National Central Banks of the Eurozone, with each Central Bank being responsible for and bearing the cost of producing a proportion of the notes.[70] The production of notes needs to be sufficient to meet expected and unexpected surges in demand and to replace unfit notes.[70] Production volumes are forecast jointly by the National Central Banks and the European Central Bank, and it needs to be approved by the Governing Council of the ECB.[70]

Production statistics

The European Central Bank publishes details about euro notes produced every year.[70]

Banknotes produced in 2013 as of August 2013[70]
Denomination Quantity (millions) Value (€ millions) NCBs commissioning production
€10 4,500 45,000  Germany,  Cyprus,  Estonia,  Greece,  Spain,  France,  Ireland,  Italy,  Malta,  Luxembourg,  Netherlands,  Austria,  Slovenia,  Slovakia,  Finland.
€20 2,500 50,000  Germany,  Cyprus,  Estonia,  Greece,  France,  Italy,  Malta,  Luxembourg,  Netherlands,  Portugal,  Slovenia,  Slovakia,  Finland.
€50 1,000 50,000  Belgium,  Germany,  Spain.
TOTAL 8,000 145,000  Belgium,  Spain,  France,  Italy,  Austria,  Germany,  Greece,  Ireland,  Portugal,  Cyprus,  Estonia,  Malta,  Luxembourg,  Netherlands,  Slovenia,  Slovakia,  Finland.
Banknotes produced in 2012[70]
Denomination Quantity (millions) Value (€ millions) NCBs commissioning production
€5 2,915.30 14,576.52  Belgium,  Spain,  France,  Italy,  Austria.
€10 1,959.04 19,590.45  Germany,  Greece,  France,  Ireland,  Portugal.
€20 1,703.95 34,079.03  Cyprus,  Estonia,  France,  Italy,  Malta,  Luxembourg,  Netherlands,  Slovenia,  Slovakia,  Finland.
€50 1,530.43 76,521.70  Belgium,  Germany,  Spain,  Italy.
€100 298.13 29,813.20  Germany.
€200 50.00 10,000.04  Germany.
TOTAL 8,456.87 184,580.95  Belgium,  Spain,  France,  Italy,  Austria,  Germany,  Greece,  Ireland,  Portugal,  Cyprus,  Estonia,  Malta,  Luxembourg,  Netherlands,  Slovenia,  Slovakia,  Finland.
Banknotes produced in 2011[70]
Denomination Quantity (millions) Value (€ millions) NCBs commissioning production
€5 1,714.80 8,574.00  Germany,  Cyprus,  Spain,  France,  Ireland,  Malta  Luxembourg,  Netherlands,  Slovenia,  Slovakia,  Finland.
€10 1,541.20 15,412.00  Germany,  Greece,  France,  Austria,  Portugal.
€20 536.60 10,732.00  Cyprus,  France,  Malta,  Luxembourg,  Netherlands,  Slovenia,  Slovakia,  Finland.
€50 2,169.10 108,455.00  Belgium,  Germany,  Spain,  Italy.
€500 56.20 28,100.00  Austria.
TOTAL 6,017.90 171,273.00  Belgium,  Spain,  France,  Italy,  Austria,  Germany,  Greece,  Ireland,  Portugal,  Cyprus,  Estonia,  Malta,  Luxembourg,  Netherlands,  Slovenia,  Slovakia,  Finland.

Printing works

There is a six-character printing code on every banknote which states the printer of the banknote. These printing codes have an initial letter, followed by three digits, then by a single letter, and ending in a digit, for example, "R001A1".[71]

The initial letter identifies the printing facility.[71] (the facilities are described below) "R" for example would be Bundesdruckerei, a printer in Berlin, Germany.[71] The three digits state sequential printing plates. "001", for example, would be the first printing plate created by the printer.[71] The fifth character, a letter and sixth character, a number, represent the row and column, respectively, of the particular banknote on the particular plate. So "A" would be the first row and "1" would indicate the first column.[71][72]

Banknotes are printed in sheets. Different printers use different sheet sizes and sheets of higher denominations, which are larger in size, would have fewer notes printed per sheet. For example, two German printers print €5 banknotes in sheets of 60 (10 rows, designated "A" to "J" and six columns), the sheets of €10 notes have 54 banknotes (nine rows, six columns), and €20 banknotes are printed in sheets of 45 banknotes (nine rows, five columns).[71]

The printer code does not need to be the same as the country code, i.e. notes issued by a particular country may have been printed in another country.[71] The printers used to print euro banknotes include commercial printers as well as national printers, some of which have been privatised, some previously produced national notes before the adoption of the euro.[71] There is one former or current national printer in each of the countries which issue euro notes, with the exception of Germany, where the former East German and West German printers now produce euro notes.[71] There are also two printers identified in France, F. C. Oberthur, a private printer, and the Bank of France printing works,[71] and also two in the United Kingdom: Thomas De La Rue, a major private printer, and the Bank of England printing house, which does not produce euro banknotes.[71]

Printer identification codes[71]
Code Printer Location Country NCB(s) produced for
(Bank of England Printing Works) (Loughton) ( United Kingdom)
(Tumba Bruk) (Tumba) ( Sweden)
Setec Oy Vantaa  Finland L (Finland Finland)
F. C. Oberthur Chantepie  France E (Slovakia Slovakia), F (Malta Malta), G (Cyprus Cyprus), H (Slovenia Slovenia), L (Finland Finland), P (Netherlands Netherlands), U (France France), X (Germany Germany)
Österreichische Banknoten und Sicherheitsdruck
Oesterreichische Nationalbank
Vienna  Austria N (Austria Austria), P (Netherlands Netherlands), S (Italy Italy), T (Republic of Ireland Ireland), Y (Greece Greece)
Koninklijke Joh. Enschedé Haarlem  Netherlands E (Slovakia Slovakia), F (Malta Malta), G (Cyprus Cyprus), H (Slovenia Slovenia), L (Finland Finland), N (Austria Austria), P (Netherlands Netherlands), V (Spain Spain), X (Germany Germany), Y (Greece Greece)
De La Rue Gateshead  United Kingdom L (Finland Finland), M (Portugal Portugal), P (Netherlands Netherlands), T (Republic of Ireland Ireland)
Banca d'Italia Rome  Italy S (Italy Italy)
Banc Ceannais na hÉireann / Central Bank of Ireland Dublin  Ireland T (Republic of Ireland Ireland)
Banque de France Chamalières  France U (France France)
Fábrica Nacional de Moneda y Timbre Madrid  Spain V (Spain Spain)
Bank of Greece Athens  Greece Y (Greece Greece)
Giesecke & Devrient Munich & Leipzig  Germany L (Finland Finland), M (Portugal Portugal), P (Netherlands Netherlands), U (France France), V (Spain Spain), X (Germany Germany), Y (Greece Greece)
Bundesdruckerei Berlin  Germany P (Netherlands Netherlands), X (Germany Germany), Y (Greece Greece)
(Danmarks Nationalbank) (Copenhagen) ( Denmark)
National Bank of Belgium Brussels  Belgium U (France France), V (Spain Spain), Z (Belgium Belgium)
Valora—Banco de Portugal Carregado  Portugal M (Portugal Portugal)
  • The A, C and S codes have been reserved for the British, Swedish and Danish printers not printing euro banknotes.[71]
  • Where a printer is listed as producing banknotes for a particular country, this may apply to a single denomination, or as many as all seven denominations.[71] Some NCBs source different denominations from different printers,[71] and some source even a single denomination from multiple printers.[71] NCBs that issue banknotes are free to source from any authorized printers, and do so in varying quantities.[71]

Serial number

Unlike euro coins, euro notes do not have a national side indicating which country issued them. The country that issued them is not necessarily where they were printed. The information about the issuing country is encoded within the first character of each note's serial number instead.[10]

The first character of the serial number is a letter which uniquely identifies the country that issues the note.[10] The remaining 11 characters are numbers which, when their digital root is calculated, give a checksum also particular to that country.[73]

The W, K and J codes have been reserved for the three EU member states that did not adopt the euro in 1999, while the R prefix is reserved for Luxembourg, which, at present, does not issue euro banknotes.[10] The first series of notes from Luxembourg use the prefix belonging to the country where they were printed.[10]

National identification codes[50]
Code Country Checksum(1)
in English in official language(s)
Z  Belgium België/Belgique/Belgien 9
Y  Greece Ελλάδα [Ellada] 1
X  Germany Deutschland 2
(W)(2) ( Denmark) Danmark (3)
V  Spain España 4
U  France France 5
T  Ireland Éire/Ireland 6
S  Italy Italia 7
(R) ( Luxembourg) Luxembourg/Luxemburg/Lëtzebuerg (8)
(Q) Unassigned
P  Netherlands Nederland 1
(O) Unassigned
N  Austria Österreich 3
M  Portugal Portugal 4
L  Finland Suomi/Finland 5
(K)(2) ( Sweden) Sverige (6)
(J)(2) ( United Kingdom) United Kingdom (7)
(I) Unassigned
H  Slovenia Slovenija 9
G  Cyprus Κύπρος [Kypros]/Kıbrıs 1
F  Malta Malta 2
E  Slovakia Slovensko 3
D  Estonia Eesti 4
(C) Unassigned
(B) Unassigned
(A) Unassigned

(1) checksum of the 11 digits without the letter
(2) Denmark, the United Kingdom and Sweden presently do not use the Euro, but had these serial number prefixes reserved for the first series of notes.[10]

Although the Slovenian letter had been reserved since the eurozone enlargement in January 2007, the country initially used previously issued banknotes issued from other member states. The first banknotes bearing the "H" letter, produced in France specifically on behalf of Slovenia, were witnessed no sooner than April 2008.[74] The 'Cypriot banknotes' (G) appeared in circulation in November 2009, whereas, those from Malta (F) appeared 3 months later (February 2010).[75] Slovakian notes (E) first appeared in October 2010.

2nd series

In the new series, there are two codes, like in the first series. They are the printer code in the top right hand corner and the serial number.[76] Part of the serial number is horizontal and part of it is vertical.[77] The serial number begins with a letter indicating the printer, which is broadly similar to the first series (Z for Belgium, Y for Greece, etc.).[78] The second letter of the new serial numbers is part of the serial number itself, and has no further significance.[78]

However, as the code indicates the printer, rather than the issuing NCB, certain letters have been reassigned from NCBs which do not maintain their own printing facilities. In the first series, H denoted Slovenia. As there is no Slovene printer of euro banknotes, H represents De La Rue (Loughton) in the second series.[78] Several of the printers which replaced what were NCB codes maintain their printing code from the first series (De La Rue, mentioned, and Bundesdruckerei, which replaced Luxembourg as R, its previous printing code).[78]

Identification codes[78]
Code Printer Country
Z Nationale Bank van België/Banque Nationale de Belgique  Belgium
Y Bank of Greece  Greece
X Giesecke & Devrient (Munich)  Germany
W Giesecke & Devrient (Leipzig)  Germany
V Fábrica Nacional de Moneda y Timbre  Spain
U Banque de France  France
T Central Bank of Ireland  Ireland
S Banca d'Italia  Italy
R Bundesdruckerei  Germany
(Q) Omitted[78]
P Joh. Enschedé  Netherlands
(O) Omitted[78]
N Oesterreichische Banknoten und Sicherheitsdruck GmbH  Austria
M Valora  Portugal
(L) Unassigned
(K) Unassigned
J De La Rue (Gateshead)  UK
(I) Omitted[78]
H De La Rue (Loughton)  UK
(G) Unassigned
(F) Unassigned
E Oberthur  France
D Polska Wytwórnia Papierów Wartościowych  Poland
(C) Unassigned
(B) Unassigned
(A) Unassigned


There are several communities of people at European level, an example of which is EuroBillTracker,[79] that as a hobby keep track of the euro notes that pass through their hands to keep track and know where they travel or have travelled.[79] The aim is to record as many notes as possible in order to know details about their spread, from where and to where they travel in general and follow it up, like where a specific note has been seen in particular and generate statistics and rankings, for example, in which countries there are more notes.[79] EuroBillTracker has registered over 122.47 million notes as of 14 September 2013,[80] worth more than €2.32 billion.[80]

€1 and €2 notes

The ECB has stated that "printing a €1 note is more expensive (and less durable) than minting a €1 coin". On 18 November 2004 the ECB decided definitively that there was insufficient demand across the Eurozone for very-low-denomination banknotes. On 25 October 2005, however, more than half of the MEPs supported a motion calling on the European Commission and the European Central Bank to recognise the definite need for the introduction of €1 and €2 banknotes.[81] However the European Central Bank is not directly answerable to the Parliament or the Commission, and has ignored the motion.

See also


External links

  • Security features on euro banknotes (ECB)
  • Website of the Europa Series (ECB)
  • The new security features on Europa series banknotes (ECB)
  • Euro banknote design exhibition – entries for the 1996 banknote design competition (PDF)
  • Website for tracking Euro Notes

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