The BEP prints billions of dollars - referred to as Federal Reserve notes - each year for delivery to the Federal Reserve System. U.S. currency is used as a medium of exchange and store of value around the world. According to the Federal Reserve, there is approximately $1.39 trillion worth of Federal Reserve notes in circulation.
The BEP is one of the largest currency printing operations in the world with facilities in Washington, DC and Fort Worth, Texas. Current BEP currency production is quite different from its beginnings in 1862, which consisted of a handful of people separating notes with a hand-cranked machine in the basement of the Treasury building. Technology has brought the BEP a long way to a state-of-the-art manufacturing operation producing U.S. paper currency. The production of this currency is not an easy or simple task, but one that involves highly trained and skilled craftspeople, specialized equipment, and a combination of traditional old world printing techniques merged with sophisticated, cutting edge technology. Overall, there are numerous, distinctive steps required in the production process.
With the introduction of redesigned currency, subtle background colors were added to the redesigned notes to make them more secure and difficult to counterfeit. The new design was applied to the $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 notes. Circulation of the new series began during the fall of 2003, with the introduction of the redesigned $20 note. It continued with the $50 note in 2004, the $10 note in 2006, the $5 note in 2008, and the $100 note in 2013.
The redesigned notes retain the same size as previous notes and use similar portraits and historical images to maintain an American look and feel. Security features maintained in the enhanced Federal Reserve notes include a portrait watermark visible when held up to a light, two numeric watermarks on the $5s, an enhanced security thread that glows under an ultraviolet light, micro printing, improved color shifting ink that changes color when the note is tilted, and on the newly redesigned $100 notes, a 3-D security ribbon and enhanced, raised printing. While the percentage of counterfeit notes in circulation remains small, advances in technology have brought forth an increase in computer generated counterfeit notes. United States paper currency is redesigned as a way to protect your hard earned money by staying ahead of advancing technologies and tech-savvy counterfeiters.
- During Fiscal Year 2014, the BEP delivered approximately 6.6 billion notes to the Federal Reserve, producing approximately 24.8 million notes a day with a face value of approximately $560 million.
- More than 90 percent of the notes that the BEP delivers each year are used to replace notes already in, or taken out of circulation.
- The average cost of a note is 10 cents.
- Between the Fort Worth and Washington, DC facilities, approximately 8.9 tons of ink was used each day in FY 2014.
- Recent estimates show that between one-half and two-thirds of the value of U.S. currency in circulation is held abroad.
Know Your Money:
Even with the most technologically advanced security features, it is you – the educated user of U.S. currency – who continues to be the first and best line of defense against counterfeiting.
Protect yourself by learning about how to check the security features in current and previous designs of the $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 notes.