Banknote recycling

Credit institutions and other professional cash handlers re-issue (“recycle”) euro banknotes to their customers only if these banknotes have been checked and counterfeits, suspect banknotes and unfit banknotes removed from circulation. This helps ensure that counterfeits are quickly withdrawn and that banknotes in circulation are of high quality.

Decision ECB/2010/14 lays down the procedures with which cash handlers have to comply when checking euro banknotes for authenticity and fitness. 

Decision ECB/2010/14 ensures that credit institutions and cash handlers only recirculate euro banknotes if they have been checked for both fitness and authenticity. These checks can be carried out either: (i) by a type of banknote handling machine which has been tested by a Eurosystem NCB; or (ii) by trained staff. Banknotes that have successfully passed machine checks can be reissued via automated teller machines or other customer-operated machines. Banknotes which have been tested by trained staff can only be disbursed over the counter.

It is important to note that euro coins are not affected by Decision ECB/2010/14, as they do not fall within the ECB’s competence.