Euro banknotes

Euro banknotes are the banknotes of the euro, the currency of the eurozone (see European Union). They have been in circulation since 2002 and are issued by the European Central Bank (ECB), each bearing the signature of the President of the European Central Bank. Denominations of notes range from €5 to €500 and, unlike euro coins, the design is identical across the whole of the eurozone, although they are printed in various member states.


There are seven different denominations, each having a distinctive colour and size. The design for each of them has a common theme of European architecture in various artistic periods. The front (or "recto") of the note features windows or gateways while the back (or "verso") has bridges. Care has been taken so that the architectural examples do not represent any actual existing monument, so as not to induce jealousy and controversy in the choice of which monument should be depicted. [ ]

Common to all notes are the European flag, the initials of the European Central Bank in five versions (BCE, ECB, EZB, ΕΚΤ, EKP), a map of Europe on the back, the name "euro" in both Latin and Greek script and the signature of the current president of the ECB. The 12 stars from the European Flag are also incorporated into every note.

The euro banknote designs were chosen from 44 proposals in a design competition, launched by The Council of the European Monetary Institute (EMI) on 12 February 1996. The winning entry, created by Robert Kalina from the Oesterreichische Nationalbank, was selected on 3 December 1996.


The paper used for euro banknotes is 100% pure cotton fibre, which improves their durability as well as imparting a distinctive feel. [ [ Euro] ]

(1) checksum of the 11 digits without the letter

* The positions of Denmark and Greece have been swapped in the list of letters starting the serial numbers, presumably because Y (upsilon) is a letter of the Greek alphabet, while W is not.
* Ireland's first official language is Irish; however, in the above chart it is clear the order was based on the English "Ireland" rather than the Irish which is "Éire". Irish is an official EU language as of 1 January 2007. It is uncertain if this will affect the placement of its code in euro banknotes printed after that time.
*In the case of Finland, which has two official languages that are also official EU languages (Finnish and Swedish), the order was based on the Finnish "Suomi" instead of the Swedish "Finland", presumably because Finnish is the majority language in the country.
*Belgium has three official languages, all of which are official EU languages. Luxembourg also has three official languages, with two being official EU languages. However, in these cases, the countries' positions in the list would be the same no matter which language was used.

The notes of Luxembourg currently use the prefix belonging to the country where they were printed.

Although the Slovenian letter had been reserved since the eurozone enlargement in January 2007, the country initially used previously issued banknotes issued from other member states. The first banknotes bearing the "H" letter, produced in France specifically on behalf of Slovenia, were witnessed no sooner than April 2008 [ [ EuroBillTracker :: View topic - Slovenian notes, serial number H ] ] .

Cyprus and Malta will not print euro notes for the time being, and will use previously issued banknotes from other eurozone member states. However, country codes have been reserved for both countries, as appears on the ECB Euro banknote FAQ site [] .

It seems from that further country codes are assigned in reverse order from the last assigned code "J" for the UK, according to the time a country joins the Eurozone. When two or more countries join at the same time, the same rule is followed as with the initial assignments of country codes, i.e. the country codes are alphabetised according to the countries' names in the official language of each country, but reversed. "H" was assigned to Slovenia which joined the Eurozone in 2007 following "J" which was the last letter assigned so far, to the UK. Then when Cyprus and Malta joined in 2008, "G" was assigned to Cyprus (Κύπρος [Kypros] in Greek, Kıbrıs in Turkish, the island's two official languages both starting with the letter K) and "F" was assigned to Malta.

Also, as the number of members of the EU grows steadily larger, it seems likely that when the next series is issued (2010 expected) that the prefixes will change to 2-character prefixes as at that stage, there should be 27 members (but only 26 letters in the Latin alphabet, or fewer if letters that could be confused with numbers are excluded).

It has also been suggested that, should the prefixes change to two characters, the code should be the state's ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 code (e.g., EE for Estonia, DE for Germany).

The initial design of the Euro with the 2002 signature of Wim Duisenberg, has been issued in each of the 7 denominations by each of the NCBs of Finland, Portugal, Austria, the Netherlands, Italy, Ireland, France, Spain, Germany, Greece and Belgium, with the exception of the €200 and €500 banknotes from Portugal and the €200 banknote from Ireland. Thus, there are 74 country/denomination varieties of the banknotes with the Duisenberg signature.

However, after the initial introduction of the Euro by these eleven NCBs, in 2002, each NCB was tasked with issuing only a subset of the denominations; for example, only 4 NCBs continued to issue the €50 note for several years thereafter. This decentralised pooling scheme means that the NCBs have to exchange the denominations issued in different countries prior to issue, and often source the banknotes they issue from multiple printers. This also means that some country/signature combinations are much scarcer than others; specifically the Duisenberg signatures of the €200 note from Finland, the €100 bill from Portugal, €100 and €500 bills from Ireland and €200 and €500 bills from Greece. Also, the banknotes issued subsequent to 2003, carrying the signature of J.C. Trichet are not found in every denomination from every country. As of the end of 2007, only 30 of the 77 possible combinations of banknotes with the Trichet signature were known, but additional combinations continue to be released, along with incremental banknotes issued in 2008 by the NCB of Slovenia, carrying the serial prefix letter "H." ["Les Eurobillets 2002-2007" by Guy Sohier; Editions Victor Gadoury (16 avril 2007); ISBN-10: 2906602302; ISBN-13: 978-2906602304]

Printing works

On each of the 7 denominations of the banknote, there is a small six-character printing code which uniquely identifies the printing information of each banknote.

These printing codes have an initial letter, followed by 3 digits, followed by a single letter, and ending in a digit, for example, "G013B6."

The initial digit identifies the printing facility, as described below. "G" for example would be Enschede & Sons, a printer in the Netherlands. The 3 digits identify sequential printing places. "013," for example, would be the 13th printing plate created by the printer.The fifth character, a letter and sixth character, a number, represent the row and column, respectively, of the particular banknote on the particular plate. So "B" would be the second row and "6" would indicate the sixth column. [ [ The preparation of euro banknotes ] ]

Banknotes are printed in sheets, with different printers using different sheet sizes, and sheets of higher denominations, which are larger in size, would have fewer banknotes printed per sheet. For example, the two German printers print €5 banknotes in sheets of 60 (10 rows, designated "A" through "J" and 6 columns), the sheets for €10 banknotes have 54 banknotes (9 rows, 6 columns), and for €20 banknotes have 45 banknotes (9 rows, 5 columns) [ [ Witzige Geldgeschenke & Geldgeschenk-Ideen im Geldgeschenke-Shop. Ein Geburtstagsgeschenk oder Hochzeitsgeschenk, mit Lustigen Geldsprüchen ] ]

The printer code need not coincide with the country code, i.e. notes issued by a particular country may have been printed in another country. The printers include commercial printers as well as national printers, some of whom have been privatized, who previously producing national notes prior to the adoption of the Euro. There is one former or current national printer in each of the note-issuing country, with the exception of Germany, where the former East German and West German printers now produce Euro banknotes. There are also two printers identified in France, F. C. Oberthur, a private printer and the Bank of France printing works, and also in the United Kingdom; Thomas De La Rue, a major private printer, and the Bank of England printing house, which currently does not produce Euro banknotes. [ [;Catalog=gadoury;Query=M9F;Lang=fra Éditions Victor Gadoury ] ]

* The A, C and S codes have been reserved for printers currently not printing euro banknotes.
* Where a printer is listed as producing bankotes for a particular country, this may apply to a single denomination, or as many as all seven denominations. Some NCBs source different denominations from different printers (Greece sourcing from 5 different printers), and some source even a single denomination from multiple printers (the Netherlands has sourced the 5 Euro note from 3 different printers). NCBs that issue banknotes are free to source from any authorized printers, and do so in varying quantities. As of June 2008, there are a total of 133 known printer/signature/country/denomination combinations of Euro banknotes; with more combinations surely to follow, much to the delight of banknote collectors.

Design changes

Banknotes have to bear the ECB president's signature. New notes printed after November 2003 show Jean Claude Trichet's signature, replacing that of the first president, Wim Duisenberg.

Current issues do not reflect the expansion of the EU to 27 member states (Cyprus and Malta are not depicted on current notes). Since the ECB plans to redesign the notes every seven or eight years after each issue, a second series of banknotes is already in preparation. New production and anti-counterfeiting techniques will be employed on the new notes, but the design will be of the same theme and colours as the current series; bridges and arches. They would still be recognisable as a new series however. [ [ The life cycle of a banknote] , De Nederlandsche Bank. Accessed 2007-08-17.]

Three more abbreviations of the European Central Bank name will have to be included on the banknotes: the Cyrillic (ЕЦБ), Hungarian (EKB) and Polish (EBC).

Only the Cyrillic rendering of the name "euro" (евро) will be added to the new series, since it is ECB policy that the name "euro" be used in all countries using Latin script. See the article Linguistic issues concerning the euro for more information on this discussion.

The first denomination from the new series will be issued in January 2011. The ECB will announce in time when banknotes from the first series lose legal tender status. [ [ Monthly bulletin: 10th anniversary of the euro: part 9.5 (Banknotes)] Accessed 2008-09-26.]

€1 and €2 notes

Italy, Greece and Austria have asked several times to introduce lower denominations of euro notes. [ [ Greece presses demand for one-euro notes — - business, legal and financial news and information from the European Union ] ] The ECB has stated that "printing a €1 note is more expensive (and less durable) than minting a €1 coin". On 18 November 2004 the ECB decided definitively that there was insufficient demand across the Eurozone for very low denomination banknotes. On 25 October 2005, however, more than half of the MEPs supported a motion calling on the European Commission and the European Central Bank to recognise the definite need for the introduction of €1 and €2 banknotes. [ [ P6_TA(2005)0399 ] ] However it must be noted that the European Central Bank is not directly answerable to the Parliament or the Commission, and will therefore possibly ignore the motion. It is also possible the ECB may recognise the need, but take no action to fulfil this need.


Owing to the ubiquity of countless historic bridges, arches, and gateways throughout the continent, all the structures represented on the banknotes are entirely fictional syntheses of the relevant architectural styles, merely designed to evoke the landmarks within the EU [ [ ECB: Design ] ] , representing various European ages and styles. [ [ Public feed back for better banknote design 2 ] ] For example, the €5 banknote has a generic rendition of a the Classical Period, the €10 of Romanesque, the €20 of Gothic, the €50 of the Renaissance, the €100 of Baroque and Rococo, €200 of Art Nouveau and the €500 of Modern style. However, in a survey conducted by the Dutch NCB (De Nederlandsche Bank), only 2% of the population was able to identify the theme of the €5, and 1% correctly identified the €50 theme. Also, while the designs are supposed to be devoid of any identifiable characteristics, the initial designs by Robert Kalina were of actual bridges, including the Rialto bridge in Venice and the Pont de Neuilly in Paris, and were subsequently rendered more generic; the final designs still bear very close similarities to their specific prototypes; thus they are not truly generic [ [ Etching the Notes of a New European Identity - International Herald Tribune ] ] .

ee also

* Currency bill tracking
* EuroBillTracker


External links

* [ Security features on euro banknotes]
* [ RFID technology on euro banknotes]
* [ Information on signatures, printer plate numbers and more]
* [ Euro banknote design exhibition] — entries for the 1996 banknote design competition (24MB PDF)
* [ "The euro banknotes that never were! (L’euro : les maquettes refusées! )" ] 44 euro banknote designs of the 1996 competition
* [ Defective 10 Euros banknote]

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