Counterfeit notes

In terms of section 14 of the SARB Act, only the SARB has the right to issue banknotes and coin in South Africa. Any reproduction of banknote images – even for artistic or advertising uses – is strictly forbidden.

Counterfeit currency are imitation notes or coin produced without the legal sanction of the SARB. Counterfeiting currency and the possession thereof are crimes.

By law, counterfeit notes found in circulation cannot be exchanged for cash, as they have no value. To confirm the validity of a banknote, the approach of Look, Feel and Tilt can be used.

The SARB, the South African Police Service and the commercial banks work together to combat the counterfeiting of banknotes and coin. Members of the public who come into possession of counterfeit banknotes and coin must immediately report it to their nearest police station.

Damaged or mutilated bank notes

A banknote is deemed mutilated when its condition requires special examination to validate. Such banknotes could be burnt, discoloured, decomposed, or damaged with portions missing.

In terms of section 14(4) of the SARB Act, the SARB is not obliged to make any payment in respect of mutilated banknotes, but will consider the merits of each case. As such, mutilated banknotes may be exchanged at the SARB Head Office in Pretoria or designated commercial bank branches, where the value to be paid will be evaluated against specific criteria.


Damaged or Mutilated Banknotes

Mutilated banknotes can also be exchanged at a commercial bank where an individual’s account is held. Designated commercial bank branches will then assess the value in line with the above guiding principles. For a list of designated branches, please see Commercial bank PDF.

Contaminated or dye-stained banknotes

A banknote is deemed dye-stained when it displays staining patterns from a currency degradation system.

These devices degrade banknotes, making them unusable and discouraging criminals from stealing them. As these banknotes are considered the proceeds of crime, they have no value and cannot be exchanged.

Dye-stained banknotes should under no circumstances be accepted. Members of the public who unwittingly come into possession of these banknotes cannot claim from the SARB, and are advised to hand in these banknotes at their nearest police station.

Examples of dye-stained banknotes:

Dye-stained notes
Currency protection device

Currency protection devices (CPDs) protect banknotes from theft by degrading their integrity, making them unusable.

The SARB regulates the use of CPDs in accordance with the SARB Act. Only CPDs or systems that are tested and formally approved by the SARB may be used to protect cash.

All enquires or applications for testing and requests for approval of CPDs, security ink or any other banknote degradation systems must be directed to:

Use of banknote images
The SARB has the sole authority to produce and issue banknotes and coin. It also has sole discretion to give or refuse permission to reproduce images of its currency.


Entities or persons who would like to reproduce images of the currency can only do so under specific approved circumstances. The images must not be reproduced with the intention of misleading or defrauding the public, and must maintain the dignity of any national symbol.

More details on the guidelines for reproducing banknotes can be found here.

Images in this gallery are available for non-commercial use only. They can be used and reproduced provided the following conditions are met:

  • the photographs are reproduced accurately and without alterations;
  • the SARB is identified as the source; and
  • its use does not contravene the SARB Act or the policy on the reproduction of images of the South African currency.