The issuing of notes and coins

Banknotes are the best-known item produced by the National Bank, which has been printing them since 1851. Like all members of the Eurosystem, it issues notes and coins – struck by the Royal Mint - according to the demand from the banks, which handle the withdrawals and deposits effected by the public.

Issuing of notes and coins

How are notes and coins placed in circulation?

Everyone withdraws banknotes at bank counters or ATMs. To satisfy the demand from their customers, the banks obtain supplies from the National Bank, and their accounts with the NBB are debited accordingly, or credited if they deposit banknotes.
 
The National Bank has no control over the volume of notes and coins in circulation. That depends on the economic situation, the public’s preference for certain means of payment, and seasonal variations in household spending.  

How is the circulation controlled?

Every banknote returns to the National Bank’s counters on average between one and three times a year: that represents around 900 million banknotes every year! They are checked electronically every time and, depending on their condition, destroyed or returned to circulation. A banknote has a life of two to five years, depending on the denomination.

Forgeries are detected, analysed, recorded and handed over to the police. Dirty or worn notes are destroyed and replaced with new ones. Badly damaged notes and the old Belgian franc notes can be presented for payment subject to specific conditions, as can certain coins.