Currency and Coin Frequently Asked Questions
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- What is the role of the Federal Reserve with respect to banknotes and coins?
Within the Federal Reserve System, there are three entities responsible for the management and distribution of currency.
The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System is the issuing authority for Federal Reserve notes, the currency of the United States. The Board has a wide range of responsibilities related to Federal Reserve notes, from ensuring an adequate supply to protecting and maintaining confidence in U.S. currency through well-controlled operations with sufficient capacity to meet the needs of the marketplace.
Working very closely with the Board, the Federal Reserve System's Cash Product Office (CPO) is responsible for strategic leadership to Reserve Bank cash departments by formulating policies, operational guidance, and technology strategies for U.S. currency and coin services provided nationally and internationally. The CPO's primary mission and responsibility is to maintain public confidence in U.S. currency. To inform strategic FedCash Services decisions, the CPO also conducts research, engages with cash industry partners, and looks at a variety of data sources to deepen the Federal Reserve’s understanding of how changes in the payments landscape in the U.S. could influence future demand for cash.
The 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks and their branches distribute Federal Reserve notes to the public through depository institutions. Reserve Banks process notes on high-speed sorting machines that check to ensure they are genuine and fit for commerce. If the notes are deemed suspect counterfeits, Reserve Banks forward them to the local U.S. Secret Service field office. If they are genuine and still in good condition, the notes are sent to depository institutions to fill orders for currency. An individual note continues moving through this cycle until it is deemed unfit, or too worn, to be kept in circulation. Unfit notes are destroyed on-site at Reserve Banks in order to maintain the quality of currency in circulation.
Unlike currency, the United States Mint is the issuing authority for coins. Reserve Banks distribute new and circulated coin to depository institutions to meet the public's demand, and take as deposits coin that exceeds the public's needs.
- Is U.S. currency still backed by gold?
Federal Reserve notes are not redeemable in gold, silver or any other commodity. Federal Reserve notes have not been redeemable in gold since January 30, 1934, when the Congress amended Section 16 of the Federal Reserve Act to read: "The said [Federal Reserve] notes shall be obligations of the United States. They shall be redeemed in lawful money on demand at the Treasury Department of the United States, in the city of Washington, District of Columbia, or at any Federal Reserve Bank." Federal Reserve notes have not been redeemable in silver sing the 1960s. The Congress has specified that Federal Reserve Banks must hold collateral equal in value to the Federal Reserve notes that the Federal Reserve Banks place into circulation. This collateral is chiefly held in the form of U.S. Treasury, federal agency and government-sponsored securities.
- Which denominations of currency does the Federal Reserve issue?
The Federal Reserve Board currently issues $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100 notes. The largest denomination Federal Reserve note ever issued for public circulation was the $10,000 note. On July 14, 1969, the Federal Reserve and the Department of the Treasury announced that banknotes in denominations of $500 (Off-site), $1,000 (Off-site), $5,000 (Off-site) and $10,000 (Off-site) would be discontinued due to lack of use. Although they were issued until 1969, they were last printed in 1945.
- How much does it cost to produce currency?
Each year, the Federal Reserve Board projects the need for new currency, which it acquires from the Department of the Treasury's Bureau of Engraving and Printing at the cost of production. The new currency budget (Off-site) for 2018 is $861.7 million, and reflects the following costs per denomination:
- $1 and $2 notes -- 5.6 cents per note
- $5 notes -- 11.0 cents per note
- $10 notes -- 11.7 cents per note
- $20 notes -- 10.8 cents per note
- $50 notes -- 12.9 cents per note
- $100 notes -- 13.2 cents per note
- How much U.S. currency is in circulation?
Visit the Board of Governors website for the most recent update (Off-site) on currency in circulation.
- What is currency paper made of?
Currency paper is one-fourth linen and three-fourths cotton.
- What is the length of a dollar bill and how much does currency weigh?
Length = 6 1/8 inches (all denominations are the same)
Strap = 100 notes = 3.52 ounces
Bundle = 1,000 notes = 2.20 pounds
Brick = 4,000 = 8.80 pounds
Cash Pak = 16,000 notes = 35.20 pounds
SOURCE: us.currency.gov, The Weight of a Banknote (Off-site)
- How can I obtain a specific series note or coin?
To obtain a specific note or coin, we recommend you contact the institution you bank with to see if it will honor your request. Federal Reserve Banks provide currency only to depository institutions, which then distribute it to members of the public. The U.S. Mint also sells certain commemorative and collectible coins and coin sets to the public through its website (Off-site).
- How can I find out how much a specific bill is worth?
If you believe that a bill may be worth more than its face value, you should consult a currency collector or dealer.
- What is mutilated currency and where can I redeem it?
Mutilated currency is a note that has been damaged to the extent that one-half or less of the note remains, or its value is questionable and special examination by trained experts at the Department of the Treasury or the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) (Off-site) is required before any exchange is made.
The Federal Reserve DOES NOT accept deposits of mutilated currency. Mutilated currency must be sent directly to the BEP with a letter stating the estimated value of the currency and an explanation of how the currency became mutilated.
For more information on mutilated currency, please visit the Mutilated Currency and Bent or Partial Coin procedures page.
- Where can I get $2 bills?
Local banks should have $2 bills. If your bank does not have any current inventory, it can order $2 bills from the Federal Reserve Bank.
- Where can I purchase uncut sheet of currency?
You can purchase uncut currency from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (Off-site).
- How do I purchase/obtain a supply of shredded currency?
Federal Reserve Banks may distribute small packages of the currency residue to visitors and other members of the public in connection with Bank tours and other information and public relations programs. It can also be purchased in larger quantities from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (Off-site).
- How do I determine if a banknote is genuine? What should I do if I think I have a counterfeit note?
The best way to determine whether a note is genuine is to rely on the security features, such as the watermark and security thread. Counterfeit detection pens are not always accurate and may give you false results. To learn about these and other security features in genuine Federal Reserve notes, visit the U.S. Currency Education Program website.
It is important to know what the security features are in genuine currency, because if you end up with a counterfeit note, you will lose that money. A counterfeit note cannot be exchanged for a genuine one, and it is illegal to knowingly pass counterfeit currency.
If you live in the United States and think you have received a counterfeit note, immediately notify the local police. Try to remember the physical characteristics of the person who passed the suspect counterfeit, and if possible, write down the person's license plate number and vehicle description. Store the suspect counterfeit apart from genuine currency and release it as soon as possible to law enforcement authorities.
If you live outside the United States and want to report counterfeit currency, you should notify the U.S. Secret Service field office (Off-site) in your region. The Law Enforcement section of the Board of Governors’ currency education website, www.uscurrency.gov (Off-site), offers contact information for U.S. Secret Service field offices around the world.
- Why does the United States periodically redesign its currency?
We redesign U.S. currency to stay ahead of counterfeiting threats and keep counterfeiting levels low.
The Federal Reserve, together with our partners at the Treasury Department, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and the United States Secret Service, continuously monitor the counterfeiting threats for each denomination of U.S. currency and make redesign decisions based on these threats. An inter-agency committee makes recommendations on design changes to the Secretary of the Treasury, who has final authority for U.S. currency designs.
- Where can I find information on the new $100 note?
Information on the new $100 note is posted on the UScurrency.gov (Off-site) website.
- Is it legal for a business in the United States to refuse cash as a form of payment?
Section 31 U.S.C. 5103, entitled "Legal tender," states: "United States coins and currency [including Federal Reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal Reserve Banks and national banks] are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes and dues."
This statute means that all United States money as identified above is a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor. There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person, or an organization must accept currency or coins as payment for goods or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether to accept cash unless there is a state law which says otherwise.
- How can I get new currency?
To obtain new currency, we recommend you contact your local bank to see if it has new currency inventory. Federal Reserve Banks provide currency only to depository institutions, which then distribute it to members of the public.
Each Federal Reserve Bank fills commercial bank orders with fit notes first in order to minimize the printing costs for new currency. Under certain circumstances, some Reserve Banks may also accept commercial bank requests for new currency at different times throughout the year. Consult with your local bank when they expect to order new currency from their servicing Reserve Bank.
- How does U.S. currency make its way into circulation?
Currency is printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and coins are produced by the U.S. Mint. Each year, the Federal Reserve Board of Governors determines the number of new Federal Reserve notes that are needed and submits a print order to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The order reflects the Federal Reserve's estimate of the amount of currency that the public will need in the upcoming year. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing and U.S. Mint ship new currency and coin to the Federal Reserve Banks. New coins are shipped in bulk bags, and new currency is shipped in distinctive colored packages, called "cashpaks." When financial institutions, such as commercial banks, credit unions, and savings and loans, need currency for their customers, they can place an order with their local Federal Reserve Bank, which in turn supplies the requested currency using a mix of recirculated currency and coin along with new currency and coin. Learn more about the cash lifecycle (Off-site) on the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco's cash website and view a video (Off-site) on the Board of Governors' annual currency print order.
- How much does it cost to produce coin?
The United States Mint determines annual coin production. The Federal Reserve's National Cash Product Office influences this process by providing the Mint with monthly coin orders and a twelve-month, rolling coin order forecast. Reserve Banks purchase coin at face value from the Mint. Further details on coins can be found on the Mint's website (Off-site).
- Where can I take worn ("uncurrent") coins to exchange them for new ones?
Uncurrent coin is coin that shows excessive wear due to natural abrasion, but that can be identified readily as to genuineness and denomination and is machine countable. The Federal Reserve accepts deposits of uncurrent coin from depository institutions. If you are in possession of uncurrent coins and would like to exchange them for current ones, please contact your local commercial bank.
For more information on Bent and Partial coin, please visit the Mutilated Currency and Bent or Partial Coin procedures page.
- Where can I get new uncirculated coins?
Neither the Federal Reserve Banks nor the U.S. Mint provide coins directly to the public for circulation purposes. Instead, coins are placed into circulation through depository institutions (e.g. banks, savings and loans, credit unions, thrifts). The Federal Reserve Banks issue circulated coins before new coins. You may need to contact several banks about supplies of new coins. The U.S. Mint sells certain commemorative and collectible coins and coin sets to the public through its website (Off-site).
- Where can I get golden dollars?
The U.S. Mint sells golden dollars directly to the public from its website (Off-site), or you may ask your local bank if it has any inventory.
- How can I obtain an Eisenhower dollar?
Most Eisenhower dollars are in circulation. The U.S. Mint discontinued minting Eisenhower dollars in December 1978, and the last of the Eisenhower dollars were distributed to the Federal Reserve Banks in April 1979. Because the Eisenhower dollars are no longer minted, the Reserve Banks cannot order them from the U.S. Mint and supply them to banks. Please check with a coin dealer for information.
- Where can I get more information about new coin releases?
Please visit the U.S. Mint website (Off-site).
- Are coins honoring current and historical people, events and places worth more than other coins with the same indicated face value?
No, all coins are valued at their face value. However, certain coins may have special numismatic value. Please check with a coin dealer for information.
- Can I melt, drill holes through, or mutilate U.S. coins?
It is a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 331 (Off-site) to alter a U.S. or foreign coin with the intent to defraud. The United States Mint cannot issue interpretations of criminal statutes such as this, which fall within the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Justice. Furthermore, 31 C.F.R. Part 82 (Off-site) states that no person shall export, melt or treat any 5-cent coin or one-cent coin of the United States. For more information, please consult the U.S. Mint’s Frequently Asked Questions (Off-site).