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Training resources for detecting counterfeit cash

This page has useful resources for cash handlers to help check banknotes and coins are genuine.

About counterfeiting

New Zealand has low levels of counterfeiting by international standards, but that doesn’t mean we don't need to check banknotes we receive. By regularly taking a second look, we can all help keep forged banknotes and coins out of circulation.

Our banknotes are made of polymer (a type of plastic) and have security features built in to help make it easier to spot a fake banknote.

Below are factsheets, a video and some detailed information on the security features used on the Series 7 and Series 6 banknotes and coins.

Factsheets and posters

Quick ways to spot a counterfeit banknote

This one-page A4 factsheet shows the three easiest ways to spot counterfeits for both series of banknotes in circulation.

Three quick ways to check a banknote is the real thing (PDF 1 MB)

Security features of Series 6 banknotes (PDF 138 KB) 

How to spot a counterfeit note

This A3, two-page poster covers the security features of the Series 7 banknotes and the older Series 6 banknotes.

Find out how to spot a counterfeit (PDF 1.2 MB)

Security features of New Zealand banknotes: Series 7

The Series 7 banknotes have security features that can be easily checked, and that are the same for all denominations. These factsheets provide an overview of the main features.

Security features of New Zealand's banknotes: Series 7 (PDF 8 MB)

Security features of New Zealand's banknotes: Series 6 (PDF 138 KB)

Banknote security features

Video 0m:59s

Security features of Series 7 banknotes

The quick way to check your banknote is real is to 'look, feel and tilt' as shown in the short video above. For a closer check, use these 10 steps:

  1. Check out the windows: Inside the large, clear window 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 denomination below the hologram.
  2. Check for ink runs: Polymer banknotes and their inks are water resistant so should not have any blotches or running of the inks.
  3. Read the microprint: With a magnifying glass, you should be able to see tiny microprint of the banknote's denomination. On the large numeral, the letters ’RBNZ’ are in microprint. On the front of the banknote, the foil inside the window reads ‘RBNZ 10 TE PŪTEA MATUA 10’. On the back are the numbers ‘10101010...’ and ‘RBNZ’ between New Zealand and Aotearoa.
  4. Feel for raised printing: Polymer banknotes have raised printing, which can be felt when you run your fingers over them.
  5. Look for unique serial numbers: Each banknote has an individual serial number printed horizontally and vertically and these numbers match exactly. If the serial numbers are missing, or if you have several banknotes with the same serial number on all of them, some or all of those banknotes could be counterfeit.
  6. See if it glows: Most commercial papers used in forgeries glow under an ultraviolet light, but our banknotes use special inks that look dull except for specific features that glow brightly. For example, the front of each genuine banknote includes a fluorescent patch showing the denomination.
  7. Check the images are sharp: All images should appear sharp and well defined—not fuzzy and washed out.
  8. Tilt to see colour change: The colour of the bird changes when you tilt the banknote, with a rolling bar going diagonally across.
  9. Line it up: When you hold the banknote up to the light, irregular shapes on its front and back combine like puzzle pieces to show its denomination.
  10. Test if it tears: Polymer banknotes are tough and not easy to tear, while most counterfeit banknotes are only paper.

What to do if you find a counterfeit banknote

  • If you believe someone is trying to pass you a fake banknote, do not accept it and tell the Police.
  • If you find you’ve already received a fake banknote, put it in an envelope to avoid handling it further and take it to the Police.

Security features of Series 6 banknotes

The older Series 6 banknotes are co-circulating with the Series 7 (Brighter Money) banknotes. They share some of the features, such as being printed on polymer in water-resistant inks. Other security features are unique to Series 6. The following three features are the same on all denominations.

  1. Check out the windows: Each banknote has two see-through windows. One is oval and has the denomination of the banknote embossed in it. The other is in the shape of a curved fern leaf. Make sure the banknote has both windows and they are properly embedded—if they look ‘stuck on’ there may be a problem.
  2. Look in the shadows: Hold the banknote up to the light and you should see a shadow image of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II next to the oval window.
  3. Make the match: Just above the fern-shaped window is another fern facing the opposite way. When you hold the banknote up to the light, this fern should match up perfectly on both sides of the banknote, making the white part of the fern coloured.

Counterfeit coins

Forgery of coins is fairly uncommon, 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 counterfeit coins

  • If you believe someone is trying to pass you a counterfeit coin, do not accept it and tell the Police.
  • If you find you’ve already received counterfeit coins, put them in an envelope to avoid handling them further and take them to the Police.