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Learn how to identify genuine bank notes

Victims of counterfeiting are not compensated for their losses, so it pays to verify your bills. Be aware that the $20 bill is the most widely used and counterfeited bank note. 


A look at the security and design of the $20 polymer bank note that features the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France (Source: Bank of Canada)

Quick tips for identifying security features on polymer notes:


  • Touch the large number, the shoulders of the large portrait as well as the words “Bank of Canada” and “Banque du Canada” on the front of the bill. You should find that they are raised to the touch.


  • Tilt the top of the bill toward you. You will see sharp colour changes in the metallic building in the large transparent window. 


  • Look at the metallic portrait in the large window.  It matches the large portrait on the front of the bill.
  • Look at the numbers in and around the large window.  They match the value of the note and some of them appear in reverse.
  • Look at the frosted maple leaf window to make sure that it has a transparent outline.

For a complete list of security features for polymer bills and other bank note series, visit the Bank of Canada website.

How to deal with suspicious money:

It is against the law to knowingly use a counterfeit bill or to keep one without a lawful reason.

  • Explain to the customer that you think the bill may be counterfeit and request another note.
  • Advise the customer to check the note with the local police.
  • Notify your local police of a possible attempt to pass suspected counterfeit money.
  • Avoid putting yourself and your employees at risk.
  • Be courteous.  The customer could be an innocent victim who is unaware that the bill is suspicious. 

Important:  If you suspect that a note is counterfeit after a transaction, give it to the local police.  If it’s real, you’ll get it back.

May 12, 2014

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