09 October 2003
Security Features of Newly Designed $20 Bill
New notes are safer, more secure, U.S. officials
The following October 9 fact sheet from the U.S. Bureau of Engraving
and Printing (BEP) outlines the security features of the newly
designed $20 bill:
(begin fact sheet)
U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Features Fact Sheet
Series 2004 $20 Note
Features for The New Color of Money
Confidence. Trust. Value. That's what the American dollar stands
for, around the world. This is made possible through continuous
improvements in currency design and aggressive law enforcement
that protect the integrity of U.S. currency by guarding it against
New currency will be issued, beginning with the $20 note in late
2003, and new designs for the $50 and $100 notes will follow in
2004 and 2005; decisions on new designs for the $5 and $10 notes
are still under consideration, but a redesign of the $2 and $1
notes is not planned. The new bills will remain the same size and
will use the same, but enhanced, portraits and historical images,
and above all, the world will continue to recognize the new money
as quintessentially American.
The new $20 notes will be safer, smarter and more secure: safer
because they're harder to fake and easier to check; smarter to
stay ahead of tech-savvy counterfeiters; more secure to protect
the integrity of U.S. currency. Because these features are difficult
for counterfeiters to reproduce well, they often do not try, hoping
that cash-handlers and the public will not check their money.
Those who learn the security features will be able to check to
make sure their hard-earned money is genuine. To build that awareness,
the U.S. government is undertaking a broad public education program.
It will help ensure people all over the world know new currency
designs are coming, and help them understand the security features.
Watermark: Hold the bill up to the light and look for the watermark,
or faint image, similar to the large portrait. The watermark is
part of the paper itself and it can be seen from both sides of
Security Thread: Hold the bill up to the light and look for the
security thread, or plastic strip, that is embedded in the paper
and runs vertically up one side of the note. If you look closely,
the words "USA TWENTY" and a small flag are visible along the thread
from both sides of the note. The security thread also glows green
under ultraviolet light.
Color-Shifting Ink: Look at the number "20" in the lower right
corner on the face of the bill. When you tilt the note up and down,
the color-shifting ink changes from copper to green. The color
shift is more dramatic in the new $20 note making it even easier
for people to check their money.
Microprinting: Because they are so small, microprinted words are
hard to replicate. The redesigned currency features microprinting
on the face of the note in two new areas: bordering the first three
letters of the "TWENTY USA" ribbon to the right of the portrait,
the inscription "USA20" is printed in blue. And "THE UNITED STATES
OF AMERICA 20 USA 20" appears in black on the border below the
Low-Vision Feature: The large numeral "20" in the lower right
corner on the back of the bill is easy to read.
Federal Reserve Indicators: A universal seal to the left of the
portrait represents the entire Federal Reserve System. A letter
and number beneath the left serial number identifies the issuing
Federal Reserve Bank.
Serial Numbers: The unique combination of eleven numbers and letters
appears twice on the front of the note.
To stay ahead of currency counterfeiters, the U.S. will be introducing
new currency designs every seven to ten years. Not only will many
of these design updates add complexity to the note and make counterfeiting
more difficult, other features will help the public, particularly
those who are visually impaired, to tell denominations apart.
Color: The most noticeable difference in the newly designed $20
note is the addition of subtle background colors of green, peach
and blue to both sides of the note. This marks the first time in
modern American history that U.S. cash will include colors other
than black and green. The words "TWENTY USA" have been printed
in blue in the background to the right of the portrait and small
yellow numeral 20s printed in the background on the back of the
bill. Different background colors will be used for the different
denominations. This will help everyone to tell denominations apart.
Symbols of Freedom: Appearing on the front of the note are two
new American eagle "symbols of freedom." The large blue eagle in
the background to the left of President Andrew Jackson's portrait
is representative of those drawn and sculpted during his time period.
The smaller green metallic eagle to the lower right of the portrait
is a more contemporary illustration, using the same "raised ink" intaglio
process as the portrait, numerals and engravings. The symbols of
freedom will differ for each denomination.
Updated Portrait and Vignette: The oval borders and fine lines
surrounding the portrait on the front and the White House vignette
on the back of the note have been removed. The portrait has been
moved up and shoulders have been extended into the border. Additional
engraving details have been added to the vignette background.
A Smooth Transition
Work is already well underway so that cash-handling machine manufacturers
can make their equipment compatible with the new currency by the
time it enters circulation. It is important to remember that both
the new notes and the older-design notes will continue to be legal
currency at full face value. There will be no recall or devaluation
of U.S. notes. As the new currency is phased in, the old notes
will be retired by the Federal Reserve when they are returned through
the banking system. This means that there is no time limit or requirement
for exchanging a previous series for a new series.
(end fact sheet)