Press release: Euro banknote counterfeiting fell during COVID-19 crisis

Press release
Date 23 July 2020

In the first half of 2020 just over 15,700 counterfeit euro banknotes were withdrawn from circulation in the Netherlands. This was 23% less than in the first half of 2019. The decrease was most marked in the second quarter of 2020 (-47%) and can be attributed to the economic lockdown in the Netherlands during the COVID-19 crisis. During lockdown, purchases at points of sale were lower, as were cash payments. The value of point-of-sale cash payments made in the Netherlands initially halved, but appears to be rebounding gradually.

The likelihood of receiving a counterfeit is very small indeed, given that there are around 25 billion euro banknotes in circulation worldwide. €50 notes continued to be the most counterfeited banknotes in the Netherlands, and the share of low-quality counterfeits remained large. You can check the security features of your notes by using the simple “feel, look and tilt” method. This method alone will distinguish genuine notes from counterfeit ones in the majority of cases. Also, retailers increasingly check euro banknotes using detection devices certified by the European Central Bank.

For more information on how to check whether banknotes are genuine, go to our web page “Checking authenticity”. Careful checks ensure that suspect banknotes are promptly detected, preventing criminals from paying with counterfeits. 

Table 1:Counterfeit euro banknotes recovered
per six-month period (in thousands) 

2016/12016/22017/12017/22018/12018/22019/12019/22020/1
Netherlands252224192118201816

Table 2: Breakdown of counterfeits by denomination in the first half of 2020, as percentages of all recovered counterfeits

eur 5eur 10eur 20eur 50eur 100eur 200eur 500
Netherlands21195412111

For more information, please contact Herman Lutke Schipholt at +31 20 524 2712 or +31 65 249 6900.