The redesigned $5 bills, which entered circulation on March 13, 2008, are safer, smarter and more secure: safer because they're harder to fake and easier to check; smarter to stay ahead of savvy counterfeiters; and more secure to protect the integrity of U.S. currency. Because security features are difficult for counterfeiters to reproduce well, they often do not try, hoping that cash handlers and the public will not check their money.
The redesigned $5 bill retains two of the most important security features that were first introduced in the 1990s and are easy to check.
Watermark: There are now two watermarks on the redesigned $5 bill. A large number "5" watermark is located to the right of the portrait, replacing the previous watermark portrait of President 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 "5"s - has been added to the new $5 bill design and is positioned to the left of the portrait. Hold your bill up to the light and look for the two new watermarks.
Security thread: 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. The letters "USA" followed by the number "5" in an alternating pattern are visible along the thread from both sides of the bill. The embedded security thread glows blue when held under ultraviolet light. Hold your bill up to the light and look for the embedded security thread.
The redesigned $5 bills remain the same size and use the same, but enhanced, portraits and historical images. Above all, the world will continue to recognize the new money as quintessentially American. The new design updates not only add complexity to the bill to make counterfeiting more difficult, but also include other features that help the public to tell denominations apart, particularly those persons with visual impairments.
Color: Because color can be duplicated by potential counterfeiters, it should not be used to verify the authenticity of paper money. Adding color to the bill's design, however, does add complexity to the design. 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 "05"s 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.
Symbols of Freedom: A new 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.
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.
Low-Vision Feature: The large, easy-to-read number "5" in the lower right corner on the back of the bill, which helps those with visual impairments distinguish the denomination, is now enlarged in the new $5 bill design and printed in high-contrast purple ink.
Microprinting: Because they are so small, microprinted words are hard to replicate. 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.
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.
Serial Numbers: The unique combination of eleven numbers and letters appears twice on the face of the bill. On the new $5 bill, the left serial number has shifted slightly to the right, compared with previous designs.
A Smooth Transition
The goal of the public education and awareness program is the seamless introduction of the redesigned $5 bills in the United States and around the world. The U.S. government is working closely with the business community, national organizations and foreign central banks to ensure a smooth transition for the redesigned bills.
More U.S. currency circulates in the world than any other currency. About $770 billion circulates worldwide. With this large volume of U.S. currency in circulation, the public education and awareness program has proven vital when introducing past newly designed currency. Similar efforts are being conducted for the new $5 bill to inform stakeholders and the general public about the new changes and how to utilize the security features to authenticate paper money.
Continue using the old $5 design: You won't have to exchange your old $5 bills for the new ones. Your old money will always be good. In fact, every U.S. banknote issued since 1861 is still redeemable today at full face value and will continue to be legal currency. In addition, there will be no recall or devaluation of any U.S. bills as the United States has never devalued its currency and will not do so now.