Changes are coming to our paper currency

In the not-too-distant future you’ll step up to an ATM, withdraw cash to buy lunch and be surprised at what the machine dispenses. No, it won’t be a much larger amount than you requested. It’ll be brand new polymer bills.

Your first experience handling polymer notes will no doubt be exciting. You’ll keep running your fingers across the smooth, light-weight film.

The introduction of polymer notes will mark the end of an era. Beginning late in 2011, we will start to bid farewell to paper bills. As the polymer series is phased in and older notes are removed from circulation, paper money will become less and less common. There’s one for the Canadian history books.

Someday you’ll tell your grandchildren, “Back in my day, money was printed on paper,” and they’ll react in disbelief.

Paper has served us well for a very long time. The Bank of Canada’s notes have been printed on paper since its first series was issued in 1935. As continual improvements were made to security printing from one series to the next, the paper held up.

Our current Canadian Journey series bank notes incorporated new security features right into the paper. For the first time ever, Canadian notes contained a ghost image (watermark) and a woven security thread that appeared as metallic dashes on the back of the notes. The other new and most visible security feature was a colour shifting metallic stripe.

Since the current series was introduced, counterfeiting rates have dropped dramatically. In 2009, the number of counterfeits passed in Canada dropped by 88 per cent when compared to 2004 levels. The security in the Canadian Journey notes, combined with increased note verification at the cash register, are largely responsible for halting the fraudster’s ability to reproduce a passable fake.

But in the Bank’s efforts to stay several steps ahead of counterfeiters, change is coming. And it’s great for Canadians.

Touch the front of the bill. The ink in the large number, the portrait and the words BANK OF CANADA – BANQUE DU CANADA along the left edge feel thicker.

Tilt the bill. Check the colour shifts in the metallic stripe on the front and the dashes on the back.

Look through the bill. Hold it up to the light to check the ghost image, puzzle number, and dashes forming a solid line.

Look at the appearance and action of each security feature carefully.

For further information and free training tools:,, 1 888 513-8212.

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