The European Central Bank (ECB) has detected and withdrawn some 467,000 counterfeit euro banknotes from circulation in 2023, the bank stated in a press release on Monday, January 29. As the statement read, more than 70% of withdrawn counterfeits were €20 and €50 denominations.

It is one of the lowest levels ever in proportion to total banknotes in circulation, the statement said.

The ECB noted that the authenticity of euro banknotes can be verified using the “feel, look, and tilt” method. In 2023, just 16 counterfeits were detected per million genuine banknotes in circulation, which is one of the smallest proportions since the introduction of euro banknotes.

Although the proportion is very small, the actual number of counterfeits increased compared with 2022, when the number of counterfeits was exceptionally low following the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. However, the number of counterfeits remained lower than in the years leading up to the pandemic.

€20 and €50 denominations continued to be the most counterfeited, together accounting for more than 70% of the total (see table below). 97.2% of the counterfeits were found in Eurozone countries, while 1.9% were found in non-euro area EU Member States and 0.9% in other parts of the world.

The use of counterfeit banknotes in any forms is a serious criminal offense and could lead to legal prosecution. As the ECB underlines, if a person suspects they own a fake banknote they should compare it to a verifiable genuine note and inform authorities immediately.