Banknote sorting

We check used banknotes for counterfeits, damage and soiling on a continuing basis. Each year, we check about 300 million banknotes, and the commercial banks also check millions of banknotes.

Each year, we check about 300 million euro banknotes,

Approving and rejecting banknotes

We use state-of-the-art sorting machines, which can check some 2,000 notes a minute for authenticity and suitability. Approved banknotes are put into circulation again. Soiled and damaged banknotes are shredded and replaced by new ones. Counterfeit banknotes go to our own National Analysis Centre (NAC) for registration and further analysis.


Each euro banknote you withdraw from an ATM has first been checked. Banks, retailers and other cash handlers fill the ATMs. They use special sorting machines to check used notes. The equipment is tested annually. The inspecting firms must satisfy specific rules set by the European Central Bank (ECB). You will find an overview of tested equipment on the ECB's website.

Banknote destruction

Dirty and worn-out bank notes are being destroyed by DNB.

Each year, we destroy around 80 million banknotes that have become soiled, damaged or worn. Our sorting machines have been set to meet European standards, which are very precise for the maximum amount of permitted smudging, wear and damage. For instance, a tiny speck of sticky tape is allowed, but a large piece is a reason for rejecting reuse of the banknote. And if a vertical tear is more than 8 mm, the banknote is also rejected.

Of all banknotes passing through our sorting machines, some 25% is rejected and destroyed. A third of all those banknotes are dog-eared, and more than a quarter are too smudged. Other reasons may be that they have sticky tape, stains or graffiti on them.

The public opinion about euro banknotes

We check used banknotes for damage.

We hold regular surveys to find out how the general public feels about the euro banknotes. Users appear to be happy with the quality of the banknotes, and most respondents rate them "clean" or "very clean".

On average, three out of four people do not consider graffiti on a banknote a problem. And dog ears are quite alright says the majority (more than 80%). While respondents do not mind whether a banknote feels a bit slack, they are highly critical of damage. And they are fairly unanimous in this respect. A banknote with a tiny tear is still acceptable, but a banknote with a somewhat larger tear is rejected. Banknotes with a piece missing are absolutely not acceptable to our respondents. And very smudgy banknotes are also rejected en masse. Read more about our survey.

If you have a damaged banknote

Did one of your banknotes get damaged? We will pay you the full amount if more than half of the banknote remains.