List of Security Features

Australian banknotes are printed on polymer, a type of plastic, and they have a distinctive feel. Polymer banknotes were developed to make our currency more difficult to counterfeit. The polymer makes it possible to include a range of security features on our banknotes.

The security features that can be used to check a banknote are:

  • New banknotes
  • Current banknotes
  • Polymer Substrate

    Australian banknotes are printed on polymer, a type of plastic, and they have a distinctive feel. A genuine banknote should return back to shape after it is scrunched up.

  • Top-to-bottom window

    Image of Top-to-bottom window on the new $5 banknote

    There are multiple security features in the clear top-to-bottom window. The window should be an integral part of the banknote and not an addition.  Check that the security features in the window cannot be easily rubbed off.

  • 3D image

    3D Image on the new $5 banknote

    Tilt the banknote to see a three-dimensional image with a colourful border. The image will appear raised or recessed.

  • Flying bird

    Image of flying bird on the new $5 banknote

    Tilt the banknote to see a bird move its wings and change colour in the top-to-bottom window.

  • Colourful bird

    Image of Colourful bird on the new $5 banknote

    Tilt the banknote to see colours change within a bird.

  • Reversing number

    Image of reversing number on the new $5 banknote

    Tilt the banknote to see a number change direction within the building. The number alternately appears forwards, disappears, then appears backwards.

  • Rolling colour effect

    Image of Rolling colour effect on the new $5 banknote

    Tilt the banknote to see a rolling colour effect. On one side of the banknote it is a prominent patch near the top corner; on the other side it is within a bird shape.

  • Image in small window

    Image in small window on the new $5 banknote

    Look for an image in a small clear window. The image is embossed and has a light and dark effect. The window should be an integral part of the banknote and not an addition.

  • Intaglio print

    Image of Intaglio print on the new $5 banknote

    Feel the distinctive texture of the dark printing. The slightly raised print can be felt by running a finger across the portraits and numerals.

  • Background print (offset)

    Image of background print on the new $5 banknote

    Multi-coloured and multi-directional fine-line patterns appear on each side of the banknote. This background printing should be very sharp. Check for irregularities such as less clearly defined patterns, thicker or thinner lines, or colour differences.

  • Microprint

    Image of Microprint on the new $5 banknote

    There is microprint, or tiny, clearly defined text, in multiple locations on the banknote.

  • Fluorescent Ink

    A bird, the serial number and year of print fluoresce under UV light.

    To validate the UV fluorescent features on Australia's banknotes, it is recommended that a UV black light with a wavelength that is centred around 365nm be used, and that it is done so in low ambient lighting conditions. Many UV black lights that use Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) emit wavelengths between 395 – 400nm, which are not suitable for viewing the UV features

  • Polymer Substrate

    A selection of banknotes fanned out.

    The plastic that Australian banknotes are printed on gives them a distinctive feel. A suspect banknote may feel thicker or thinner and lighter than a genuine banknote. Most counterfeits are printed on paper and can be easily torn. It is difficult to start a tear along the edge of a genuine banknote. A genuine banknote should return back to shape after it is scrunched up.

  • Clear Window

    Clear window of a $10 banknote.

    The clear window should be an integral part of the banknote and not an addition. Check that the white image printed on the window cannot be easily rubbed off. Also look for the embossing – there is a wave pattern in the window of the $10 banknote, and the value of the banknote in the windows of $20, $50 and $100 banknotes. There is no embossing in the window of the $5 banknote.

  • See-through Registration Device

    See-through registration device of a $5 banknote.

    Diamond-shaped patterns are printed inside a circle on both sides of a banknote. When a genuine banknote is held up to the light, the patterns should line up perfectly to form a seven-pointed star within the circle.

  • Shadow Image

    Shadow image showing the Australian Coat of Arms.

    When a genuine banknote is held up to the light, the Australian Coat of Arms should be visible under the print. This ‘shadow image’ is created by variations in the background printing on the plastic substrate.

  • Intaglio Print

    Intaglio print on $5 banknote.

    Intaglio is raised dark printing with a distinct feel. On genuine Australian banknotes, the slightly raised print can be felt by running a finger across the portraits and other major design elements.

  • Background Print (offset)

    Background print image on a $20 banknote.

    Multi-coloured and multi-directional fine-line patterns appear on each side of the banknote. This background printing should be very sharp. Check for irregularities such as less clearly defined patterns, thicker or thinner lines, or colour differences.

  • Microprinting

    Microprinting on a $5 banknote.

    Tiny, clearly defined words are printed in the top left corner of the $5 banknote, and near the portraits on the other denominations. Most people need the help of a magnifying glass to read the microprinting. Most banknotes have their denomination microprinted in words (e.g. ‘FIFTY DOLLARS’), but the $10 banknote has poems by AB ‘Banjo’ Paterson and Dame Mary Gilmore microprinted on it.

  • Fluorescent Ink

    Highlight of fluorescent ink on the $50 banknote.

    The serial numbers of an Australian banknote should fluoresce under ultraviolet light. Also, a rectangular patch showing the value becomes visible on the $20, $50 and $100 banknotes, and a square patch appears on the $5 banknote.

    To validate the UV fluorescent features on Australia's banknotes, it is recommended that a UV black light with a wavelength that is centred around 365nm be used, and that it is done so in low ambient lighting conditions. Many UV black lights that use Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) emit wavelengths between 395 – 400nm, which are not suitable for viewing the UV features.