Number of counterfeit banknotes fell markedly; counterfeiters most often produce the thousand-koruna note
A total of 1,980 counterfeit and altered banknotes and coins of different currencies were seized in the Czech Republic in 2022, which is around three and a half times fewer than in the previous year. They were worth a total of CZK 2.954 million, which was CZK 39.426 million less than a year earlier when a large number of counterfeit euro banknotes were seized during a police operation.
Most of the counterfeits seized last year (1,120 in total) were imitations of Czech banknotes and coins. This was about a quarter less than in 2021, when 1,394 counterfeit Czech banknotes and coins were seized. The total value of the counterfeit Czech currency seized in 2022 fell year on year by more than a third to CZK 1.712 million.
The thousand-koruna note was the most frequently counterfeited Czech banknote in 2022, replacing the two-thousand-koruna note, which was the second most frequently counterfeited banknote. As in previous years, the counterfeiters most often printed banknotes on ink-jet printers. This was true for 67% (624) of all seized banknotes. Around one-third of counterfeits (i.e. 301) were made using colour toner copiers. Only 0.5% of seized counterfeits were offset printed, i.e. 5 counterfeits in absolute terms.
In addition to banknotes, 182 counterfeit coins were seized last year. This is an increase on the two previous years when the number of counterfeit coins fell to zero. The Czech National Bank recorded 2,884 counterfeit coins from 1993 to 2022, most of which were twenty-koruna coins. The latest counterfeit can be distinguished from the genuine twenty-koruna coin by its flat edge which protrudes above the field of the coin. The coin field itself is not well minted all the way to the edge and the quality deteriorates from the centre to the edge.
“The number of counterfeit and altered Czech banknotes and coins seized in the Czech Republic remained low again in 2022, and counterfeits were most frequently rated poor quality. While this is the first time in many years we are observing a year-on-year increase in domestic coin counterfeits, it’s nothing dramatic. Given the total number of coins in circulation, and in particular their value, it can still be considered negligible,” said Bank Board member Jan Procházka, pointing out that “We shouldn’t forget to check banknotes and coins when handling them.”
As in previous years, most of the seized Czech banknotes corresponded to a grade of 4 on a five-point security scale similar to the marking system in Czech schools. Grade 4 counterfeits are rated as poor quality (612 counterfeits, i.e. 65.81%) because they have either poor quality security features or none at all.
The second most common counterfeit note (284), accounting for 30.54% of counterfeits, were those given a grade of 5. The orientation of the reverse side and the face side is usually wrong (i.e. they are “upside down”) or they are one-sided.
Thirty-one (3.33%) of the seized counterfeit Czech banknotes were given a grade of 3 on the quality scale, i.e. were considered good quality by the experts. Only three seized counterfeits (0.32%) were given a grade 2 and rated as dangerous by the CNB. The banknotes in question had nominal values of CZK 500, CZK 1,000 and CZK 2,000.
Counterfeit and altered banknotes and coins seized in the Czech Republic:
|Seized in 2021||Seized in 2022|
|in circulation||by the police||total||in circulation||by the police||total|
|Counterfeit banknotes CZK||750||600||1,350||783||147||930|
|Counterfeit banknotes EUR||246||4,783||5,029||292||360||652|
|Counterfeit banknotes USD||359||0||359||78||2||80|
|Counterfeit banknotes other||10||0||10||13||0||13|
|Counterfeit coins CZK||0||0||0||182||0||182|
|Counterfeit coins other||33||0||33||112||0||112|
|Altered banknotes and coins CZK||44||0||44||8||0||8|
|Altered banknotes and coins other||11||0||11||3||0||3|
There is only around 1.1 counterfeit Czech banknotes per 10,000 inhabitants in the Czech Republic (this value was 1.3 counterfeits in 2021). Last year, most were seized in Prague (625), followed by Hradec Králové (53), Ústí nad Labem (40), Brno (29) and Klatovy (17).
Counterfeit and altered foreign banknotes and coins
A total of 860 counterfeit and altered foreign banknotes and coins were seized in the Czech Republic in 2022, a decrease of 4,582 compared to the previous year when a large number of counterfeit euro banknotes were seized during a police operation. The most frequently seized counterfeits last year were imitations of euros (652) and dollars (80). The total value of the counterfeit foreign banknotes seized in 2022 was the equivalent of CZK 1.242 million.
In the Czech Republic, counterfeiters face up to eight years imprisonment for counterfeiting and altering money. There is a sentence of up to ten years for organised crime groups and larger-scale counterfeiting operations.
Annual change in currency in circulation
The value of currency in circulation recorded an annual decline in 2022 – specifically of CZK 21.6 billion – for only the second time in the history of the Czech currency. There were two main reasons for this: a decrease in economic activity and high interest rates.
The CNB recorded almost 2.8 billion banknotes and coins in circulation at the end of 2022. Despite the decrease in the value of currency, the number of banknotes and coins in circulation increased by around 4%. Commemorative banknotes and coins are not included in these data.
How to check the security features
The CNB offers instructions on how to check the security features of banknotes in the Czech Money mobile app, in interactive educational games, on its website and in information leaflets, for example.
Director of the Communications Division and CNB Spokesperson
Interesting facts on the amount of currency in circulation (as of 31 December 2022):
- Since the Czech koruna became legal tender on 8 February 1993, the amount of currency in circulation has risen from CZK 28.1 billion to CZK 709.5 billion as of 31 December 2022.
- If we were to lay all the banknotes in circulation lengthways one after the other, an 82,100 km belt would be created. This is the distance twice around the equator.
- The coins registered by the CNB as being in circulation as of 31 December 2022 weigh over 11,900 tonnes in total. This would fill 595 twenty-tonne wagons.
- The amount of currency in circulation reached:
- CZK 100 billion in May 1995
- CZK 200 billion in June 2000 (an increase of CZK 100 billion in 61 months)
- CZK 300 billion in May 2006 (an increase of CZK 100 billion in 71 months)
- CZK 400 billion in September 2011 (an increase of CZK 100 billion in 64 months)
- CZK 500 billion in November 2015 (an increase of CZK 100 billion in 50 months)
- CZK 600 billion in July 2018 (an increase of CZK 100 billion in 32 months)
- CZK 700 billion in November 2020 (an increase of CZK 100 billion in 28 months)