Euro Banknotes

To deter crime, money dispensed by ATMs is increasingly protected by Intelligent Banknote Neutralisation Systems (IBNS).  These systems activate in the event of a robbery or theft, and stain the banknotes (typically red, a purple variant or green).  Stained banknotes are removed from circulation by National Central Banks, but retailers and members of the general public should be aware that if they receive a stained banknote, it is almost certainly a stolen banknote, and should not be accepted.

What to do if a stained banknote comes into your possession depends on your country of residence.  On 22nd March 2010 the European Commission published a recommendation (2010/191/EU) from which the following extract is taken:

Stained Euro BanknotesEuro Banknotes stained by Intelligent banknote neutralisation systems  (IBNS)
Even if euro banknotes stained with security ink by Intelligent Banknote Neutralisation Systems (IBNS) are legal tender, Member States should communicate actively towards stakeholders (banks, retailers, general public) that stained banknotes must be brought back to National Central Banks as it is very likely that they are the product of a theft.

Whatever country you live in, the best advice if you come into possession of a stained banknote is to contact your National Central Bank.  A document with general information on euro banknotes and coins, as well as the contact details of 27 European National Central Banks can be downloaded here (2.76MB).  Information on the euro can also be found on the website of the European Central Bank (ECB).

bnw_logo_2For those living in the UK, the Banknote Watch crime prevention initiative offers advice to the police, public and retailers.  For more information visit


logovb0For those living in France the Vigie Billet crime prevention initiative offers the same advice.  For more information visit



Information from the European Intelligent Cash Protection Association (EURICPA) can be found at


EURICPA has published a ‘Paper on Stained Notes Handling’ which gives recommendations for the usage of personal protection equipment and disposal kits to be used in the follow up to an ink activation.

EAST has published lists of Manufacturers of ATM Protective Devices:

EAST Lists of Manufacturers of ATM Protective Devices Vs 2.3

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