Euro banknotes: denominations, specifications, reproduction, exchange and withdrawal
The European Central Bank (ECB) Decision establishes the denominations of euro banknotes and their technical specifications. The reproduction of banknotes is subject to conditions, and any reproduction which the public might mistake for a genuine banknote is unlawful. The Decision also stipulates the conditions governing the exchange of mutilated or damaged euro banknotes.
Decision of the European Central Bank of 20 March 2003 on the denominations, specifications, reproduction, exchange and withdrawal of euro banknotes (ECB/2003/4).
In its Decision ECB/2003/4, the European Central Bank (ECB) establishes the rules on the technical specifications of euro banknotes. It also specifies the cases in which the reproduction of banknotes is authorised, and also the arrangements under which damaged banknotes can be exchanged.
This Decision only concerns euro banknotes. The rules on the technical specifications of euro coins are governed by Regulation (EC) No 975/98.
Denominations and technical characteristics of euro banknotes
The first series of euro banknotes comprises seven denominations: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros.
The technical characteristics of these banknotes are as follows:
- dimensions (mm): 120 x 62
- colour: grey
- design: classical
- dimensions (mm): 127 x 67
- colour: red
- design: romanesque
- dimensions (mm): 133 x 72
- colour: blue
- design: gothic
- dimensions (mm): 140 x 77
- colour: orange
- design: renaissance
- dimensions (mm): 147 x 82
- colour: green
- design: baroque and rococo
- dimensions (mm): 153 x 82
- colour: yellow-brown
- design: "iron and glass" architecture
- dimensions (mm): 160 x 82
- colour: purple
- design: modern 20th century architecture
The motifs on the reverse side of the banknotes are: the symbol of the EU, the name of the currency in the Roman and Greek alphabets and the initials of the ECB in their official language variants.
Reproduction of euro banknotes without risk of confusion to the public
The Decision authorises all or part of banknotes to be reproduced in certain cases, provided that there is no risk of the public mistaking the reproductions for genuine euro banknotes. The following are deemed lawful:
- one-sided reproductions whose size is at least 125 % or at most 75 % of that of a genuine banknote;
- two-sided reproductions whose size is at least 200 % or at most 50 % of that of a genuine banknote;
- reproductions made of a material clearly different from the paper used for banknotes.
Reproductions which the public might mistake for genuine euro banknotes are prohibited. The Decision lays down strict criteria for intangible reproductions made available on websites, because paper printouts of those reproductions might be mistaken for genuine banknotes.
Exchange of mutilated or damaged euro banknotes
The national central banks (NCBs) exchange mutilated or damaged euro banknotes when more than half of the banknote is presented, or when half or less of the banknote is presented if the applicant can prove that the missing part has been destroyed. The exchange of mutilated or damaged banknotes is also subject to the following conditions:
- where doubt exists as to the applicant's legal title to the banknotes or as to their authenticity, the applicant must provide identification;
- when ink-stained, contaminated or impregnated banknotes are presented, the applicant must provide a written explanation as to the kind of stain, contamination or impregnation;
- when banknotes have been discoloured by an anti-theft device, they must be presented by a professional banknote-handling entity such as a credit institution or a bureau de change (Article 6(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1338/2001) and the entity must provide a written statement concerning the nature and cause of the invalidation;
- when banknotes have been mutilated or damaged in bulk by an anti-theft device, they must be presented in sets of 100 euro banknotes, provided that the amount of banknotes presented is sufficient to form such sets.
Where NCBs know or have sufficient reason to believe that the euro banknotes have been intentionally mutilated or damaged, they must refuse to exchange the banknotes and must withhold them in order to avoid their return into circulation and prevent the applicant from presenting them to another NCB for exchange. The same applies where NCBs know or have sufficient reason to believe that a criminal offence has been committed. In that case, NCBs must present the banknotes in question to the competent authorities to initiate a criminal investigation (or to support an ongoing criminal investigation). Unless otherwise decided by the competent authorities, the banknotes will be returned to the applicant at the end of the investigation and can then be exchanged.
However, NCBs may exchange the banknotes if they consider that the applicants are bona fide or if the applicants can prove that they are bona fide. Banknotes which are mutilated or damaged to a minor degree, e.g. by having annotations or numbers placed on them will not be considered intentionally mutilated or damaged.
Withdrawal of euro banknotes
The Decision stipulates that the withdrawal of a euro banknote type or series will be regulated by a decision of the Governing Council published for general information in the Official Journal of the European Union and other media.
Replacement of previous Decisions
Decision ECB/2003/4 repeals the previous Decisions ECB/2001/7 and ECB/2001/14. References to Decisions ECB/1998/6, ECB/1999/2 and ECB/2001/14 are to be construed as references to Decision ECB/2003/4.
|Act||Entry into force||Deadline for transposition in the Member States||Official Journal|
OJ L 78, 25.3.2003