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How to spot a fake banknote or coin

It's easy to tell if a banknote or coin is genuine. We show you how and provide downloadable posters and training resources.

Look, feel and tilt to check it's real

New Zealand's banknotes have special security features that make them hard to copy. You can check if a banknote is fake by its look, feel and by tilting it.

The video explains what you should look out for.

Visual: Close up of a hand holding up a New Zealand $50 banknote.

Audio: New Zealand's banknotes are among the most secure in the world. They incorporate state-of-the-art security features that make them more difficult to copy. But how can you be sure that your notes are the real deal? That's where technology comes in.

Visual: The camera zooms in on the holographic window of the $50 note. The person tilts the window up and down – the metallic feature in the window changes colour.

Audio: First, look through the holographic window: the edges of the window should look smooth and you should see the bird's silhouette, a map of New Zealand and a 3-D feature showing the value of the banknote.

Visual: A person runs their finger up and down the note across the words “Reserve Bank of New Zealand Te Pūtea Matua.”

Audio: Then feel the note: you should be able to feel raised ink on the denomination and the letters at the top.

Visual: A person tilts the note from the bottom left hand corner. The colour of the bird’s silhouette changes.

Audio: After that, tilt the note: a bright shining bar should roll across the bird's silhouette on the front and the holographic window's colours should shift and change revealing fine details.

Visual: Person doing a thumbs up, holding the $50 banknote in their other hand.

Audio: Remember, to make sure your banknotes are the genuine article, just Look, Feel and Tilt.

Visual: The words Look, Feel, Tilt appear on screen.

Audio: To find out more about the many security features on our banknotes and what to do if you think you've been given a counterfeit note, visit rbnz.govt.nz.

 

Types of banknotes

In New Zealand, there are 2 series of banknotes in circulation — Series 6 (small windows) and the newer Series 7 (large window). banknote. Some features are common across both banknotes.

Look



Check the windows
Inside the large, clear window (Series 7) is a hologram featuring a fern and a map of New Zealand. It contains the same bird featured on the left-hand side of the banknote. There is also an embossed print note value below the hologram. On Series 6 check the two small windows are intact with a fern in one and the note value in the other.
See if it glows
Forgeries often glow under ultraviolet light while genuine notes don’t, except for a fluorescent patch on Series 7 showing the note value.
Look for the microtext
Using a magnifying glass, look at the numeral on the front and back of the banknote. There is microtext including “RBNZ” on the front in both series.

 
Check for ink runs
Polymer banknotes and their inks are water resistant so should not have any blotches or running of the inks. 

 

Line it up
Hold your note up to the light.  The small puzzle pieces on the front and back of a Series 7 note form a complete number.   On Series 6 you’ll see a watermark of the late Queen to the right of the feature portrait. 

Feel


   

Feel for the rough
Polymer banknotes have raised printing, which can be felt when you run your fingers over them.

 

Tilt

 
Tilt to see colour change
The colour of the bird changes when you tilt a Series 7 banknote, with a rolling bar going diagonally across.
Feel for the smooth
The notes are smooth and made of one piece of plastic and they shouldn’t tear easily.

Counterfeit coins 

Fake coins are extremely rare, mainly because the work required to forge a coin is hardly worth the small reward. 

All designs on a real coin should be clearly defined.

The coin should make a distinct 'ring' when dropped on a table-top, rather than a 'thud'.

The $1 and $2 coins have special security edging. 

View the security edging on the $1 and $2 coin

What to do if you find a fake banknote or coin

Fake notes in New Zealand are rare because they are easy to spot.

 

If you see one, politely refuse it if you can.

 

If you end up with one, put it in an envelope to preserve evidence.

 

Tell the Police in either case.