The euro banknotes have been in circulation since 1 January 2002. There are seven denominations, each with a different size: €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500.
The euro banknotes depict the architectural styles of seven periods in Europe's cultural history – classical, Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, baroque and rococo, 19th century iron and glass architecture, and modern 20th century architecture – and show three main architectural elements: windows, doorways and bridges. None of the designs depict actual buildings or monuments. There are no individual national designs on the banknotes.
The windows and doorways on the front of each banknote symbolise the spirit of openness and cooperation in Europe. The reverse of each banknote features a bridge typical of the respective age of European cultural development. These images are a metaphor for communication among the people of Europe, as well as between Europe and the rest of the world.
The euro banknotes are produced at printing works throughout the EU. Strict quality controls ensure that all banknotes produced are identical in quality and appearance. At the end of 2011, 14.9 billion euro banknotes worth some €889 billion were in circulation.
Euro banknotes are produced using sophisticated printing technology. They also have a number of prominent security features, which make them easy to distinguish from counterfeits. You do not need special equipment to do so. All you have to do is feel, look at and tilt the banknotes.
It is recommended to always check several security features. If in doubt, compare the banknote with one you know to be genuine.
For the security features of the first series of euro banknotes including an animation, please see www.ecb.europa.eu/euro/banknotes/security
For monthly updates of the circulation figures, please see www.ecb.europa.eu/stats/euro/circulation
To make the banknotes even more secure and maintain public confidence in the currency, a second series of euro banknotes with enhanced security features has been developed. The new €5 note in this series will be put into circulation as of May 2013. For more information, see www.new-euro-banknotes.eu.
BC.001 01/13European Central Bank