Euro banknote denominations
All of euro banknotes feature architectural styles from different periods in Europe’s cultural history. Each denomination varies in colour and size. The higher the denomination, the larger the banknote’s size.
There are two series of euro banknotes. The first series consists of €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500 denomination banknotes. The second series – the Europa series – was first issued in 2013. Euro banknotes from both series are legal tender throughout the Eurosystem.
In May 2016, the ECB decided to discontinue production of the €500 banknote and exclude it from the Europa series. The Bank of Lithuania will issue banknotes of €500 until 26 January 2019. However, the €500 banknotes from the first series, which are still in circulation, remain legal tender and can be used for settlements for an unlimited time; they can also be exchanged at any Eurosystem NCB. Banks and cash handling companies may further reissue €500 banknotes into circulation.
Why new banknotes?
It is common practice for central banks to issue new series of banknotes. It is necessary to constantly update and enhance their security features, so that it would be even more difficult to produce counterfeits.
- The smaller denomination banknotes of the new series (€5 and €10) are more durable than the first series banknotes. This means that the banknotes will need to be replaced less frequently, thereby remaining in circulation longer and reducing the impact on the environment.
- These banknotes are more adapted to the needs of visually impaired users.
- The new banknotes take into account the enlargement of the European Union in 2004 and 2007, i.e. after the first series was already issued. They show:
- the name of the currency (euro) not only in the Latin (EURO) and Greek (EYPΩ) alphabets, but also in the Cyrillic (EBPO) alphabet, as a result of Bulgaria joining the European Union in 2007;
- a revised map of Europe, including Malta and Cyprus; and
- the initials of the European Central Bank in nine linguistic variants.
Why the series are called ‘Europa’?
The new series of banknotes are named ‘Europa’ because the security features of the new banknotes contain a portrait of Europa, a figure from Greek mythology, after whom our continent was named.
Portraits have traditionally been used on banknotes all over the world. Research has shown that people tend to recognise faces easily. The portrait of Europa was chosen to feature in the new euro banknotes because it has an obvious link to the continent of Europe.
In Greek mythology, Europa, the daughter of a Phoenician king, was seduced by the god Zeus, in the shape of a bull, who carried her away to Crete. The story inspired the ancient Greeks to use ‘Europe’ as a geographical term.
Europa’s portrait was created on the basis of her depiction on a vase kept in the Louvre (Paris) museum. The vase, dating back nearly 2,000 years, was discovered in Southern Italy.
Will the banknotes of the first series still retain their value?
The first series and Europa series banknotes will continue to circulate together; therefore, both the old and new banknotes can be used for payments.
The date when the first series of euro banknotes ceases to be legal tender will be announced well in advance. However, the banknotes of the first series will always retain their value – they can be exchanged for an unlimited period of time at any Eurosystem NCB.