Criminal penalties for currency counterfeiting

According to the European Central Bank, counterfeiting has resulted in financial damage of at least EUR 500 million to the European Union’s economy since the introduction of the currency in 2002. A new law has been adopted to protect the euro and other currencies against counterfeiting.


Directive 2014/62/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 on the protection of the euro and other currencies against counterfeiting by criminal law, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2000/383/JHA


The new European Union (EU) directive lays down minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in regard to currency counterfeiting. It introduces common rules to combat counterfeiting, to improve investigation and to ensure better cooperation between EU countries to combat counterfeiting.


EU countries have to introduce measures to ensure that any intentionally fraudulent making, receiving, obtaining or possession of instruments, articles or computer programmes, as well as security features (such as holograms or watermarks), is punishable.

Intentional conduct should also be punishable in relation to unissued notes and coins designated for circulation as legal tender, as should incitement, aiding and abetting.

Sanctions for individuals (natural persons)

Sanctions introduced must be effective, proportionate and dissuasive and include imprisonment. The maximum term of imprisonment (5 or 8 years depending on the case) must apply at least to the most serious forms of counterfeiting offences.

Although intentionally passing on counterfeitcurrency which has been received in good faith could be subject to penalties such as fines, provision should be made for imprisonment as a maximum sanction in EU countries’ national laws.

Liability of and sanctions for legal entities

EU countries must ensure that legal entities (e.g. companies and associations) can be held liable as an alternative to individuals (natural persons), and apply effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions on legal persons. The range of sanctions should be defined, to include exclusion from entitlement to public benefits or aid, temporary or permanent disqualification from the practice of commercial activities and placing under judicial supervision.

Analysis and detection of counterfeit euro notes and coins

EU countries must ensure that their national analysis centres and national coin analysis centres can test for euro counterfeits and be available in ongoing judicial proceedings for the purpose of detecting further counterfeits.


Ireland has opted in to this directive. However, Denmark and the United Kingdom (1) are not bound by it.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2014/62/EU



OJ L 151 of 21.5.2014

last update 10.08.2014

(1) The United Kingdom withdraws from the European Union and becomes a third country (non-EU country) as of 1 February 2020.