The Banque de France’s banknote recirculation activities

The Banque de France distributes and collects banknotes and coins to and from banks. It plays a vital role in maintaining banknote quality by withdrawing worn notes and reconditioning those in good condition.

To this end, the Banque de France has a number of high performance banknote sorting machines which allow it to sort several billion notes every year, checking their authenticity and their quality. The sorting machines detect suspect banknotes and remove those that are not fit for reissue based on the quality standards applied by euro area countries. Finally, the banknotes identified as being suitable for reissue into circulation are reconditioned and boxed. They are then collected from Banque de France counters by cash-in-transit companies, putting good quality banknotes back into circulation The Banque de France destroys any banknotes that are too worn to be reused: it is the only body authorised to do so in France. The destroyed banknotes are replaced with new notes or others fit for circulation.

As a result, when the public withdraws money from a cash dispenser or over a bank counter, they can be sure that the banknotes are either new or have already been in circulation and have been machine-sorted to check their authenticity and quality.

The banknote: cutting-edge technology in the fight against counterfeiting

The Eurosystem pursues a policy of constant technological innovation to continually reduce the number of counterfeit banknotes in circulation. The research and development (R&D) unit of the Banque de France’s Directorate General Cash – Retail Payments covers all areas of cash-related research and applications, ranging from the substrate to the printed banknote, from the latest-generation security features to innovative solutions to heighten banknote robustness.

The R&D unit works alongside leading international research centres and the ECB, and makes use of the latest advances in optics, chemistry, physics and electromagnetics. This policy of constant innovation is designed to meet two burgeoning requirements in the cash industry: satisfying the increasing demand for banknote security and improving banknote resilience.

Therefore, there is an extremely small number of counterfeit banknotes in circulation in the euro area, and those that do exist are all visible to the naked eye with the Feel Look Tilt method of identifying the various security features on the banknote.

Furthermore, the Banque de France offers professionals free training courses in banknote authentication in order to prevent the circulation of counterfeit banknotes as quickly as possible.

Any counterfeit banknote identified in France is analysed and registered in a European database by the Banque de France’s National Counterfeit Analysis Centre. The Centre shares its findings with the Office Central de Répression du Faux-Monnayage (OCRFM – France’s national office for the repression of counterfeit currency), helping to identify and dismantle criminal manufacturing and distribution networks.

Updated on 3 November 2023