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Number of Counterfeit Hryvnia Banknotes Still Small in 2023

Number of Counterfeit Hryvnia Banknotes Still Small in 2023

The number of counterfeit hryvnia banknotes remained small in 2023.

This is evidenced by the data on withdrawals of hryvnia banknotes from circulation in 2023. 

Last year, approximately 2.1 banknotes were counterfeit per 1 million authentic banknotes (in contrast to 2.2 banknotes in 2022).

For comparison, according to the ECB, this indicator was eight times higher in EU member states in 2023 – nearly 16 counterfeit euro banknotes per million authentic ones (in 2022 it was 13).

About counterfeit hryvnia banknotes

In 2023, mostly older-design banknotes were counterfeited, the vast majority (93%) of counterfeit banknotes withdrawn from circulation were of the following three denominations:

  • 200-hryvnia banknotes (61% of the total number of withdrawn counterfeit notes and 41% of their total number)
  • 500-hryvnia banknotes (24% and 41% respectively)
  • 100-hryvnia banknotes (8% and 3% respectively).

Other counterfeit banknotes withdrawn from circulation accounted for only 7%.

According to 2023 data, new-design counterfeit hryvnia banknotes made up only 18% of the total number of counterfeit banknotes that were withdrawn from circulation Ukraine. The number of new-design counterfeit hryvnia banknotes was only 0.4 banknotes per 1 million authentic ones.

This was due to the enhanced security features of the new-design hryvnia banknotes, in particular those of high denominations – UAH 100, 200, 500, and 1,000, which the NBU issued into circulation in 2015–2020. In particular, these banknotes, which are most often favored by counterfeiters, have innovative optically variable security features, which can be easily checked, and which are very hard to counterfeit.

How do you identify counterfeit hryvnia banknotes?

Most counterfeit hryvnia banknotes withdrawn from circulation were of low quality, and could only pass for genuine notes if members of the public and cashiers at retailers were inattentive.

Knowing the security features of hryvnia banknotes and carefully checking them when making payments minimizes the risk of receiving counterfeits.

The security features on hryvnia banknotes guarantee that counterfeits can be identified through careful visual and tactile inspection, without the need for the use of special equipment.

A banknote’s authenticity can be verified in the following ways:

1) by feeling the note – banknote paper and the relief features of some images on the front of the note, which are made using special printing techniques, can by verified by touch

2) by holding a banknote up to the light you can check for:

  • watermarks (a multitone watermark – a portrait that repeats the portrait printed on the front of the note) and a light watermark element (the numerical indication of the denomination or the graphic symbol of the hryvnia)
  • a see-through register (when the note is held up to the light, fragments of the numerical indication of the denomination printed on the back and front combine to form a complete image of the banknote’s denomination, without any breaks or overlaps
  • a stripe, fully imbedded into the paper, on which the numerical indication of the denomination, the legend ‘ГРН’ and Ukraine’s small coat of arms (the trident) can be seen as direct and inverse images under a magnifying glass when the note is held up to the light

3) by tilting a banknote you can check for:

  • images printed in optically variable ink, which change color when the note is looked at from different angles (on middle- and high-denomination banknotes designed in 2003–2007 and on new 20- and 50-hryvnia banknotes designed in 2018 and 2019 respectively), and have a dynamic light effect of one color gradually changing into another (the SPARK feature on 100-, 200-, 500- and 1,000-hryvnia banknotes designed in 2014–2019)
  • a window polymer thread (partially embedded into the paper) of a respective color (brown on 100-hryvnia banknotes designed in 2014, blue on 200-hryvnia banknotes designed in 2019, dark grey on 500-hryvnia banknotes designed in 2015, and purple on 1,000-hryvnia banknotes designed in 2019); this thread features the numerical indication of the denomination and the graphic symbol of the hryvnia (on 100-, 200- and 500-hryvnia notes), and an image of Ukraine’s small coat of arms (on 1,000-hryvnia notes) When looked at from different angles, the thread produces a pronounced dynamic light effect (the color of the background images on the thread moves in a different direction)
  • a latent image of the numerical indication of the denomination visible when the note is held at a sharp angle to the light at eye level (dark against a light background when the note is looked at from the long side, and light against a dark background when the note is looked at from the short side).

A detailed description of all circulating hryvnia banknotes and their security feature can be found on the NBU’s official website.

About counterfeit foreign currency banknotes

The number of counterfeit foreign currency banknotes was also small. In 2023, banks and financial institutions across Ukraine withdrew from circulation fewer than 700 foreign currency counterfeits (about 600 in 2022).

Among counterfeit foreign currency banknotes withdrawn from circulation in 2023, U.S. dollars prevailed (97% of the total number of withdrawn foreign currency counterfeits). Withdrawn counterfeit euro banknotes accounted for only 3% in 2023.

The most often counterfeited foreign currency banknotes were as follows:

  • USD 100 and USD 50 (92% and 7% of the total number of withdrawn counterfeit U.S. dollar banknotes respectively)
  • EUR 50 and EUR 200 (39% and 30% respectively of the total number of withdrawn counterfeit euro banknotes).

How do you identify counterfeit foreign currency banknotes?

First of all, you are advised never to carry out currency exchange transactions with unofficial dealers, via the Internet, and so on. To exchange your money, you should go only to currency exchange offices or non-bank financial institutions that have been licensed by the NBU. 

All foreign currency counterfeits withdrawn from circulation is guaranteed to be sorted as suspicious using properly configured counters and banknote sorting machines (including those that can check for UV, infrared and magnetic features). These counterfeits pose no threat to banks and financial institutions, and can only be taken for genuine banknotes if members of the general public are inattentive or lack the required knowledge. 

After learning about the security features of U.S. dollar and euros, people can verify their authenticity without using special equipment, but by paying attention to visual and tactile security features (watermarks, imbedded and window security threads, relief printing, optically variable inks, holographic elements, and so on). 

A detailed description of the security features of circulating U.S. dollar and euro banknotes can be found on the website of the Bureau for Engraving and Printing of the U.S. Treasury Department, and on the website of the European Central Bank respectively.

What do you do if you suspect you have been given a counterfeit note?

When making cash payments or currency exchange transactions, you should always be careful, take your time and try to check several security features of the banknote.

If you suspect that a hryvnia or foreign currency banknote may be counterfeit or not legal tender, members of the general public should take this note to a bank, which will send this note to the NBU for inspection.

Based on the results of the inspection, which is conducted free of charge, customers will be reimbursed if the note is found to be genuine and legal tender. Foreign currency banknotes established to be genuine are returned to their owners.

Counterfeit banknotes are withdrawn from circulation without any reimbursement. The NBU notifies law enforcement agencies about withdrawn counterfeit banknotes. All counterfeits are handed over to the authorized employees of these agencies for investigation, as per the established procedure.

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