Questions & Answers
How do I tell if I have a counterfeit banknote and what do I do with it?
Australia's banknotes have many features designed to combat counterfeiting and the Reserve Bank has produced a Counterfeit Detection Guide (1.3MB) to assist the public to detect and deal with counterfeits.
Do all banknotes have the names of the people featured on them printed under the portrait?
The names of the people on the banknotes were added to the design to make it easier for the public to identify the famous Australians featured. In 2002, the names were added to $10 and $20 banknotes. In 2003 the names were added to $50 banknotes, and in 2008 they were added to $100 banknotes. You can determine the year a banknote was manufactured by looking at the first two numbers of the serial number.
The presence or absence of the name under the portrait is not a determining factor when assessing whether a banknote is genuine (155KB). Australia's banknotes have many features designed to combat counterfeiting and the Reserve Bank of Australia has produced a Counterfeit Detection Guide (1.3MB) to assist the public to detect and deal with counterfeits.
Are the signatures of the RBA Governor and Secretary to the Treasury in a different order on some banknotes?
When Australian polymer banknotes were first printed, the signature of the Secretary to the Treasury appeared above that of the Governor of the Reserve Bank. However, from 2002 the signatures were reversed on new banknotes when they were printed. You can determine the year a banknote was manufactured by looking at the first two numbers of the serial number.
The order of the signatures is not a determining factor when assessing whether a banknote is genuine. Australia's banknotes have many features designed to combat counterfeiting and the Reserve Bank has produced a Counterfeit Detection Guide (1.3MB) to assist the public to detect and deal with counterfeits.
What should I do if I have a damaged banknote?
The damaged banknote policy can help you determine the amount of damage that has occurred to your banknote. The policy can be found on our website.
The Reserve Bank recommends that people take damaged banknotes to their bank or another authorised deposit-taking institution. Badly damaged and contaminated banknotes need to be forwarded to the Reserve Bank's National Note Processing and Distribution Centre (NNPDC) for assessment. All authorised deposit-taking institutions will ensure the claim is securely delivered to the NNPDC on behalf of the claimant.
Incomplete, badly damaged or contaminated banknotes may also be presented at the Reserve Bank's Sydney head office (65 Martin Place) or Canberra branch (20-22 London Circuit) for secure delivery to the NNPDC.
Is the serial number used when assessing the value of damaged banknotes?
The presence or absence of a serial number or other specific feature is not a determining factor when assessing damaged banknotes for value.
Who decides which people feature on banknotes?
The design, production and issue of banknotes is the responsibility of the Reserve Bank. In deciding on the people to feature on a banknote, the Reserve Bank is assisted by a panel of consultants as well as suggestions from the public.
What does the RBA do to assist people with a vision impairment to differentiate banknotes?
The Reserve Bank assists people with a vision impairment by producing banknote denominations of different sizes, using strong colour contrasts and other means.
How can I determine the year a banknote was manufactured?
The first two numbers of a serial number identify the year a banknote was manufactured. For example, a $50 banknote with a serial number DB 99 572038 indicates the banknote was manufactured in 1999. Whereas a $50 banknote with a serial number DB 03 572038 indicates the banknote was manufactured in 2003.
How long do polymer banknotes last in circulation compared to paper banknotes?
Polymer banknotes last longer than paper banknotes because of the non-porous, non-fibrous nature of polymer, and the overcoating of polymer banknotes with a clear varnish. As a result, polymer banknotes do not absorb moisture, nor do they stain or accumulate dirt as easily as paper banknotes. The life of banknotes also varies by denomination. Low denomination banknotes, handled more frequently and roughly in day-to-day transactions, do not last as long as higher denominations.
In the course of being used, banknotes are subjected to quite harsh treatment. For example, banknotes are often folded, crumpled, exposed to moisture or heat, stapled and so on. This ultimately leads to signs of wear such as holes, tears and ink wear. When banknotes are no longer fit for further use they are replaced with new banknotes using strict criteria that the Reserve Bank has set to maintain the high quality of banknotes in circulation.
Can I reproduce a banknote and what are the laws involved with such reproductions?
The Crimes (Currency) Act 1981 prohibits reproduction or representations of banknotes that might mislead people to believe they are genuine banknotes.
How can I obtain value for my old Australian banknotes?
All previous issues of Australian banknotes retain their legal tender status. However, it is a long time since these banknotes actively circulated in Australia and many retailers and members of the public may be reluctant to accept them if they are not familiar with the designs and may suspect them to be counterfeit.
The Reserve Bank, and most commercial banks, will redeem old Australian banknotes at face value. If you take your old banknotes to a commercial bank they may exchange them for current banknotes. Please bear in mind that a commercial bank may require time to confirm that a banknote from a previous banknote series is genuine or may need to send such banknotes to the Reserve Bank for confirmation. Alternatively, you can exchange your old banknotes for current banknotes at the Sydney Head Office or Canberra branch
Who makes Australia's coins?
The Royal Australian Mint in Canberra is responsible for the production of Australia's circulating coins.
Does the Reserve Bank sell first prefix, last prefix and uncirculated banknotes?
The Reserve Bank conducts an annual numismatic sale. Further details on the sale are published on the Bank's collecting webpage Collecting Banknotes.
What is my pre-decimal Australian banknote worth in dollars?
The conversion of pre-decimal Australian banknotes to dollars is obtained by multiplying the face value of the pre-decimal banknote by two (except for a 10 shilling banknote which converts to $1). For example, a £1 banknote converts to $2, £5 converts to $10 and £10 converts to $20.
Are my old, rare or misprinted Australian banknotes worth more than their face value?
The Reserve Bank and other commercial banks will only recognise previous issues of Australian banknotes as face value and do not provide opinions concerning the market value of old, rare or misprinted banknotes. If you wish to have your banknotes appraised, it is recommended that you contact a number of Australian banknote and coin dealers. Without endorsing any particular organisation, there are a number of Australian banknote and coin dealers that are members of the Australasian Numismatic Dealers Association Inc (ANDA). For more details, please visit the ANDA website.