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How to detect counterfeits

Euro coins incorporate highly sophisticated security features, which make the euro one of the safest currencies in the world.

Although the stability of the euro makes it particularly interesting to counterfeiters, the number of counterfeit coins detected accounts only for a negligible share of coins in circulation. 

However, a counterfeit coin cannot be exchanged for a genuine one: whoever accepts a counterfeit coin when it is passed off as a genuine coin will lose their money. Therefore, it is essential to recognise a genuine coin when receiving one. 

If you suspect a euro coin to be counterfeit, always check several security features (do not rely on just one). If in doubt, compare the coin with one you know to be genuine, looking for differences and not similarities.

If any doubt persists about the coin’s authenticity, it should be taken to a branch of Banco de Portugal or a credit institution, where due clarifications will be given.


Check the security features 

It is very easy to check security features, without the need for additional equipment, by using the simple FEEL, LOOK and CHECK method. 


When touching, the relief of the design differs strongly from the rest of the coin’s surface.

The following elements are depicted in relief on euro coins:


Edge: Each denomination features an edge with specific size, thickness and shape.

The edge milling is raised, well-defined and uniform. You can check it more easily with a magnifying glass.

Edge lettering: With a magnifying glass, you can check the edge lettering in €2 coins. The edge milling is raised, well-defined and uniform.

Edge lettering features characters and/or symbols, which vary according to the issuing Member State.

Edge alignment: If you align two or more €2 coins with the same national side, the edge lettering is also aligned.

The same applies to €1 coins. If you align two or more €1 coins regardless of the national side, the milled spaces and the smooth spaces are aligned.

Micro dots: Using a magnifying glass, the map on €1 and €2 coins is portrayed in negative relief. Micro dots are also a feature of the first design of the euro coins.


Magnetic properties: Using a magnet, check the magnetic properties of each coin:

€1 and €2 coinsTheir inner part is slightly magnetic. The outer part has no magnetic properties.

10, 20 and 50 cent coinsThey have no magnetic properties.

1, 2 and 5 cent coinsThey are highly magnetic.

What should I do if I come across a fake/counterfeit/suspect coin? 


The “Feel-Look-Check method” is the proper, effective procedure for the public to check the security features and ascertain the authenticity of banknotes. However, there is always a possibility that you will come across suspect banknotes. Below are some suggestions, where there is doubt concerning the authenticity of a coin.

  • If you are not sure whether the coin is genuine, don’t accept it. Remember that fake/counterfeit banknotes are worthless, which means that if you accept one you will receive no compensation.
  • Contact Banco de Portugal if you need more information.
  • Politely ask for another coin and assume he/she is innocent. Explain him/her that they may be in possession of a suspect banknote and suggest that he/she immediately take it to the local police, a local bank or Banco de Portugal. In any case, never put yourself at risk.
  • Immediately inform the local police or your security officer about the incident.
  • Try to remember as much as you can about the person that handed you the suspect coin.
  • If you think you have accepted a counterfeit coin by mistake, don’t pass it on to someone else, as this is a criminal offence. Give the suspect coin to the local police, a local bank or Banco de Portugal. If it is genuine you will get your money back.


Banco de Portugal provides face-to-face training courses, free of charge, on the authenticity of euro banknotes and coins. For more information on these courses, click here.