Can one damage, deface, write or draw on a banknote or coin?

Article 178ter of the Penal Code prohibits the deliberate use of a banknote or coin as a medium for any message, whether for advertising or other purposes, or rendering its use as a means of payment more difficult by damaging, defacing, altering or rendering it unfit in any way whatsoever. This prohibition applies to banknotes and coins that are legal tender in Belgium or another country. Violation of this prohibition shall be punished by imprisonment for one week to three months and a fine of 26 to 1 000 EUR, or either one of these penalties.

Permanent withdrawal of banknotes and coins from circulation is nevertheless not a punishable offence. This is notably the case when they are incorporated into souvenirs, decorative items or works of art in such a way that they cannot be restored to their original condition.