The $5 bill incorporates security features that are easy to use and harder for counterfeiters to fake. The redesigned $5 bill entered circulation on March 13, 2008.
Often, counterfeiters will not attempt to replicate security features of a note because the features are so difficult to fake. Instead, counterfeiters hope cash handlers and the public will not check for the features to verify if the note is real.
Protect yourself by learning how to check the security features in the redesigned $5 bill.
The redesigned $5 bill retains important security features that were first introduced in the 1990s and are easy to check.
There are two watermarks on the redesigned $5 bill. A large numeral 5 watermark is located to the right of the portrait, replacing the previous portrait watermark of President Abraham Lincoln found on older design $5 bills. Its location is highlighted by a blank window incorporated into the background design. A second watermark — a column of three smaller 5s — has been added to the $5 bill design and is positioned to the left of the portrait. Hold your bill to light and look for these two watermarks.
The embedded security thread, which is located to the left of the portrait on older-design $5 bills, has moved to the right of the portrait on the redesigned $5 bill. Hold your bill to light and look for the embedded security thread. The letters USA followed by the numeral 5 in an alternating pattern are visible along the thread. The security thread glows blue when illuminated by ultraviolet light.
Additional Design and Security Features
The most noticeable difference in the redesigned $5 bill is the addition of light purple in the center of the bill, which blends into gray near the edges. Small yellow 05s are printed to the left of the portrait on the front of the bill and to the right of the Lincoln Memorial vignette on the back. Because color can be duplicated by potential counterfeiters, it should not be used to verify the authenticity of the bill.
Symbols of Freedom
An American symbol of freedom has been added to the background of the redesigned $5 bill. The Great Seal of the United States, featuring an eagle and shield, is printed in purple to the right of the portrait of President Lincoln. An arc of purple stars surrounds the portrait and The Great Seal. The symbols of freedom differ for each denomination.
Updated Portrait and Vignette
The oval borders around President Lincoln’s portrait on the front and the Lincoln Memorial vignette on the back have been removed. The portrait has been moved up and the shoulders have been extended into the border. Engraving details have been added to the vignette, framing the Lincoln Memorial against a sky full of clouds.
The numeral 5 in the lower right corner on the back of the bill was enlarged for the redesigned $5 bill and printed in high-contrast purple ink to help those with visual impairments distinguish the denomination.
The redesigned $5 bill features microprinting on the front of the bill in three areas: the words FIVE DOLLARS can be found repeated inside the left and right borders of the bill; the words E PLURIBUS UNUM appear at the top of the shield within the Great Seal; and the word USA is repeated in between the columns of the shield. On the back of the bill the words USA FIVE appear along one edge of the large purple 5 low-vision feature. Because they are so small, microprinted words are hard to replicate.
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. There are 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks and 24 branches located in major cities throughout the United States.
The unique combination of eleven numbers and letters appears twice on the front of the bill. On the redesigned $5 bill, the left serial number has shifted slightly to the right, compared with previous designs. Because they are unique identifiers, serial numbers help law enforcement identify counterfeit notes, and they also help the Bureau of Engraving and Printing track quality standards for the notes they produce.