How to spot a counterfeit

Useful resources to help you check your notes and coins are genuine.
How to spot a counterfeit PDF
thumbnail identifying a counterfeit
New Zealand has low levels of counterfeiting by international standards, but that doesn’t mean we can forget about checking our banknotes.

New Zealand has low levels of counterfeiting by international standards, but that doesn’t mean we can forget about checking our banknotes. By regularly taking a second look we can all do our bit to keep forged banknotes out of circulation. Our banknotes are made of polymer (a type of plastic) and have security features carefully built in to help make spotting a counterfeit easier. Here are ways to make sure the notes you’ve got are the real thing. Features are the same on all denominations.

How to spot a counterfeit note - Series 7

Check out the windows

Inside the large clear window is a hologram featuring a fern and a map of New Zealand. It also contains the same bird featured on the left-hand side of the note. There is also an embossed print denomination below the hologram

All washed up

Polymer notes and their inks are water resistant. There should not be any blotches or running of the inks.

Get out the glass

Tiny micro-print of the note denomination should be visible with a magnifying glass. On the large numeral, the letters “RBNZ” are in microprint. On the front of the note, 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

Feel for real

Polymer notes have raised printing, which can be felt when you run your fingers over it.

It’s a serial

Each note 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 notes with the same serial number on all of them, some or all of those notes could be counterfeit.

Does it glow?

Most commercial papers used in forgeries glow under an ultraviolet light, but our notes use special inks which look dull except for specific features that glow brightly. For example, the front of each genuine note includes a fluorescent patch showing the denomination.

No to fuzz

All images should appear sharp and well defined – not fuzzy and washed out.

Check for the change

The colour of the bird changes when the note is tilted, with a rolling bar going diagonally across.

Line it up

When the note is held up to the light irregular shapes on the front and the back of the note combine like puzzle pieces to show the note’s denomination.

Rip into it

Polymer notes are tough, but most counterfeits are only paper. Moderate force should not start a tear in the note.

What should I do if I find a counterfeit note?

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

Counterfeit coins

Forgery of coins is fairly uncommon, mainly because the work required to forge a coin is hardly worth the small reward.

What should I do if I find counterfeit coins?

  • If you believe someone is trying to pass you counterfeit coins, do not accept it, and notify 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.

How to spot a counterfeit note - Series 6

The older Series 6 notes are co-circulating with Series 7 and share some of the features, such as being printed on polymer in water-resistant inks. Other security features are unique to Series 6. Features are the same on all denominations.

Check out the windows

Each note has two see-through windows. One is oval and has the denomination of the note embossed in it. The other is in the shape of a curved fern leaf. Make sure both windows are there and properly embedded in the note - if they look ‘stuck on’ there may be a problem.

Look in the shadows

Hold the note up to the light and you should see a shadow image of H. M. Queen Elizabeth II next to the oval window.

Make the match

Just above the fern-shaped window is another fern facing the opposite way. When you hold the note to the light, this fern should match up perfectly on both sides of the note, making the white part of the fern coloured.

How to spot a counterfeit PDF
thumbnail identifying a counterfeit
New Zealand has low levels of counterfeiting by international standards, but that doesn’t mean we can forget about checking our banknotes.