September 20, 2007

New $5 Bill Debuts During “Wi-5” Event

  • Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
  • Bureau of Engraving and Printing
  • U.S. Secret Service

For immediate release

First-Ever “Digital Unveiling” of a Redesigned Bill
Introduction Scheduled for Early 2008

The U.S. government today digitally unveiled a new, more secure design for the $5 bill that will be issued and enter circulation in early 2008.  A new $100 bill will follow. This is the first time in history that U.S. paper money has ever been unveiled entirely online.

Similar to recently redesigned $10, $20, and $50 bills, the new $5 bill incorporates improved, easy-to-use security features, making it easier for businesses and consumers to check the new $5 bills they receive and more difficult for counterfeiters to fake. 

Officials from the U.S. Treasury, Federal Reserve Board, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and U.S. Secret Service were part of today’s “Wi-5” preview, an entirely digital event which emphasized the government’s commitment to staying ahead of counterfeiters. The live “unveiling” of the $5 bill design, which featured government officials discussing currency security efforts, took place on and also included an online Q&A for news reporters.  Podcasts featuring important information about the new $5 bill are also posted on the site.

“The government uses the best tools available so that it will be unlikely that you will receive a counterfeit bill,” said Treasurer of the United States Anna Escobedo Cabral. “Improved security features are at the heart of this currency series--security features that are easy for everyone to use.  Learn how to use them, so you don’t lose your hard-earned money in the unlikely event that someone tries to pass a counterfeit bill to you.”

The new $5 bill incorporates state-of-the-art security features that are easy to use by cash handlers and consumers alike. Hold the bills up to the light to check for these features:

  • Watermarks: 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 the older design $5 bills.  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.
  • Security Thread: The embedded security thread runs vertically and is now located 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 thread glows blue when held under ultraviolet light.

"Our goal is to seamlessly introduce the redesigned bills to the public by working primarily with financial institutions in the United States and around the world, as well as with foreign central banks," said Michael Lambert, Assistant Director, Division of Reserve Bank Operations and Payment Systems, Federal Reserve Board.  "There is no need to trade in your old $5 bills for new ones. All U.S. currency issued by the U.S. government--old and new--is legal tender and continues to be redeemable at full face value."

Because the $5 bill is heavily used in vending and transit farecard machines, the U.S. government began informing the manufacturers and end-users of those machines about the upcoming new $5 bill more than a year ago, to provide ample time to adjust them to accept the new design.

“We are working with manufacturers of ATMs and other cash-oriented machines to ensure they have the information they need to adjust their machines to accept the new bills,” said Larry R. Felix, Director of the Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing. “Just as importantly, we are educating cash handlers on how to use the improved security features. They are the first line of defense against counterfeiting, and their familiarity with the new design and its improved security features is vital to a smooth transition.”

With today’s unveiling of the $5 bill’s new look, the U.S. government officially launched the next phase of the public education program that will ensure a smooth transition for the new currency by informing people worldwide about the new design and its security features.

Free educational materials are available to businesses, financial institutions, trade and professional associations, citizen groups and individuals to prepare cash handlers and consumers to recognize the new design and protect themselves against counterfeits. Since 2003, the U.S. government has distributed approximately 78 million pieces of public education and training materials about the new $10, $20, and $50 bill redesigns. Materials are available to order or download in multiple languages at

The redesign of the $5 bill will also help protect against a method of counterfeiting that bleaches, or removes the ink from, a $5 bill and prints over it to create a fake $100 bill. By eliminating as many similarities as possible between the $5 and $100 denominations, the new design foils counterfeiting and protects U.S. currency users.

The embedded security thread on the new $5 bill has been moved so that it is in a distinctively different location than the thread on the $100 bill.  Previously located to the left of the portrait on the older-design $5 bill and in a similar position on the $100 bill, the thread has now been moved to the right of the portrait of President Abraham Lincoln on the redesigned $5 bill. 

In addition, similarities between the watermarks on the new $5 and $100 bills have also been eliminated.  While the old $5 and $100 bills both have a portrait watermark, the watermark on the new $5 bill has been changed to a large number “5.”  Furthermore, a second watermark, featuring a column of three smaller number “5”s has been added to the left of President Lincoln’s portrait.

“The combination of public education, law enforcement and improved security features helps deter potential counterfeiters, but security features only work if people know how to use them,” said Michael Merritt, Deputy Assistant Director, Office of Investigations, U.S. Secret Service.  “Be smart; know your money so counterfeiters don’t take advantage of you.”

In the U.S. alone last year there were 3,945 arrests related to counterfeit bills passed to individuals and businesses, equaling a total loss of $62 million.1  Last year, the U.S. Secret Service and international authorities seized just over $53 million in counterfeit bills before they entered circulation. Nearly $65 million that had been passed into circulation was detected and removed worldwide. In these cases, innocent victims who accepted bogus bills suffered a financial loss.2  

As with the redesigned $10, $20, and $50 bills that preceded it, the new $5 bill features an American symbol of freedom printed in the background: The Great Seal of the United States, featuring an eagle and shield, is printed in purple on the front of the bill.

Additional design elements include:

  • The large easy-to-read number “5” in the lower right corner on the back of the bill, which helps those with visual impairments to distinguish the denomination, has been enlarged in the new $5 bill design, and is printed in high-contrast purple ink.
  • The oval borders around President Lincoln’s portrait on the front, and the Lincoln Memorial vignette on the back have been removed.  Both engravings have been enhanced. 
  • An arc of purple stars surrounds the portrait and The Great Seal on the front of the bill, and small yellow “05”s are printed on the front and back of the bill.

The new $5 bill’s most noticeable design difference is the addition of light purple in the center of the bill, which blends into gray near the edges. Consumers and cash-handlers should use the key security features--watermarks and security thread--not color, to check the authenticity of paper money because color can be duplicated.

1.  U.S. Secret Service, based on FY2006 statistics. Return to text
2.  U.S. Secret Service, based on FY2006 statistics. Return to text

Media Contacts:
Federal Reserve Board Susan Stawick  or Jeffrey Smith 202-452-2955
Bureau of Engraving and Printing Dawn Haley or Claudia Dickens 202-874-2778
U.S. Secret Service Office of Public Affairs 202-406-5708
New Currency Program
Media Support
Penny Kozakos 202-530-4887
Last Update: September 20, 2007