Legal requirements

The European Union and the European Central Bank (ECB) play a leading role in establishing the rules for the processing of cash, which includes authenticity and fitness checking, and its recirculation. Here you will find an overview of the legal provisions currently in force and how they apply in practice.


To protect the euro against counterfeiting, numerous provisions on the processing and recirculation of cash have been put in place, laying down the rights and obligations of professional cash handlers. These provisions allow them to recirculate euro banknotes, as only unfit banknotes have to be returned to the national central bank. This enables professional cash handlers to perform their role in the currency supply in a more effective and cost-efficient manner. Professional cash handlers within the meaning of laws and regulations are primarily credit institutions, bureaux de change and cash-in-transit companies, as well as traders and casinos if they are involved in sorting and issuing cash by operating cash dispensers.

To protect euro banknotes against counterfeiting, the following laws and regulations apply:

To protect euro coins against counterfeiting, the following laws and regulations apply:

Authenticity checking and recirculation of euro banknotes

Professional cash handlers must ensure that all euro banknotes which they have received and which they intend to put back into circulation are checked for authenticity and that counterfeit banknotes are detected. This obligation is laid down in the Decision of the European Central Bank of 7 September 2012 amending Decision ECB/2010/14 on the authenticity and fitness checking and recirculation of euro banknotes (ECB/2012/19).

Decision ECB/2010/14 took effect on January 1, 2011. Amendments to this Decision (ECB/2012/19) entered into force on September 21, 2012, enforcing adjustments with regard to future series of banknotes and rules for banknote processing. The amendments furthermore aimed at improving certain rules and procedures in terms of clarity and efficiency.

Authenticity checking and recirculation of euro coins

Member States are obliged to carry out themselves, or monitor, checks to verify that euro coins circulating in their territory are authentic and fit for circulation. This obligation is laid down in Regulation (EU) No 1210/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 December 2010 concerning authentication of euro coins and handling of euro coins unfit for circulation.

Member States need to ensure that the authentication process rejects counterfeits as well as genuine euro coins unfit for circulation, foreign coins similar to the euro and other metallic objects, such as medals and tokens similar to euro coins.

Council Regulation (EC) No 2182/2004 of 6 December 2004 concerning medals and tokens similar to euro coins as amended by Council Regulation (EC) No 46/2009 prohibits the production and sale of medals and tokens

  • when they bear the words “euro” or “euro cent” or the euro symbol;
  • when their size is inside the reference band set out in the Regulation; or
  • when they show a design which is similar to the design of the euro coins.

Each Member State is requested to authenticate every year at least 10% of the total cumulated net volume of coins issued by that Member State. As a minimum, the following euro coin denominations should be checked: EUR 2, EUR 1 and 50 cent. In addition, authentication should be carried out for submitted euro coins that are no longer fit or unfit for circulation.

To enable manufacturers of coin counting and sorting machines to obtain the information necessary for the initial adjustment of their equipment, tests may be carried out at the OeNB Test Center in close cooperation with the Coins National Analysis Centre (CNAC) of Münze Österreich AG.

Testing and auditing in Austria

  • Testing of coin counting and sorting machines by manufacturers at the OeNB Test Center in cooperation with the CNAC of Münze Österreich AG
  • Auditing sorting centers by the CNAC of Münze Österreich AG
  • Authentication of euro coins unfit for circulation by Münze Österreich AG

The OeNB publishes on its website the results of tests performed on coin counting and sorting machines. In line with Commission Recommendation (2005/504/EC), the OeNB submits a report on its testing activity, including checks and audits, to the European Technical and Scientific Centre (ETSC) which is responsible for the technical analysis and classification of counterfeit euro coins.