March 13, 2008

A New $5 Bill Enters Circulation TodayEnhanced Security Features Are Easy to Check

  • Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
  • Bureau of Engraving and Printing
  • United States Secret Service

For immediate release

The first new $5 bill was issued by the Federal Reserve today during a commemorative transaction at President Lincoln's Cottage at the Soldiers' Home in Washington, D.C., a historic site used by the former president as a White House summer retreat. Officials from the Federal Reserve Board, U.S. Treasury, Bureau of Engraving and Printing and U.S. Secret Service ushered the new $5 bill into circulation at the Lincoln Cottage gift shop.

Michael Lambert, Assistant Director, Division of Reserve Bank Operations and Payment Systems at the Federal Reserve Board, spent the first new $5 bill on a book of President Lincoln's speeches.  President Lincoln’s portrait continues to be featured on this redesign of the $5 bill. "The redesigned $5 bill's enhanced security features help ensure we stay ahead of counterfeiters and protect your hard-earned money," Lambert said.  "It only takes a few seconds to check the new $5 bill to make sure it's genuine.  If you know how to check its security features, you can easily be confident it's real."

Today, Federal Reserve banks will begin distributing the redesigned $5 bills to customer banks, which will then distribute them to businesses and consumers.  The new $5 bill designs will circulate first in the U.S. and gradually spread to other countries as international banks place orders for them from the Federal Reserve.  You don't have to trade in your old bills for new ones. Both the new $5 bills and the older-design $5 bills will continue to maintain their full face value.  

The new $5 bill incorporates state-of-the-art security features that are easy to use by cash handlers and consumers alike.  Hold the bill 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 in a blank space 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.

President Lincoln's Cottage at the Soldiers' Home in Washington, D.C. ( ), which has recently been restored and is now open to the public, was chosen as the location to spend the first new $5 bill because of its historic significance to President Lincoln, the subject of the bill's portrait. President Lincoln established the United States Secret Service the same evening he was assassinated and made safeguarding the nation's currency from counterfeiters the agency's primary mission.

Every person or business that gets a counterfeit bill experiences a real economic loss, and in 2007, $61.4 million in counterfeit money was passed in the United States.  "Everyone who uses U.S. currency is on the front line of defense against counterfeiters," said Michael Merritt, Deputy Assistant Director, U.S. Secret Service.  "The best way to protect yourself is to learn the security features.  It’s simple, it’s quick, and it can save you from accepting a fake." 

Treasurer of the United States Anna Escobedo Cabral encouraged businesses and individuals to visit to order or download educational materials about the new $5 bill and other recently redesigned currency, including the $10, $20 and $50 bills.  "Each time we introduce a new bill, we provide the information businesses and individuals need to empower themselves -- to learn how to use the security features and verify that a bill is genuine."

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 about 80 million pieces of public education and training materials about the new $5, $10, $20 and $50 bill redesigns.  Materials are available to order or download in multiple languages at

Manufacturers and users of cash-handling equipment are also an important audience for education about new currency designs.  "Because the $5 bill is used so heavily in vending, self-service and transit farecard machines, we began working with the manufacturers of those and other cash-oriented machines in 2006 to make sure they had enough time to make the necessary adjustments that would allow for their machines to accept the new $5 bill," said Pamela Gardiner, Deputy Director of the Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

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 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.
•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.

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.  Because color can be duplicated, consumers and cash-handlers should use the key security features – on the new $5 bill, the watermarks and security thread – not color, to check the authenticity of paper money.

Note to Editors: Given President Lincoln’s ties to the state of Illinois, the Federal Reserve Banks of St. Louis and Chicago will commemorate the $5 day of issue with a teacher training workshop and youth education event at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois.  The event is in cooperation with the Illinois Council on Economic Education and the purpose is to educate teachers and students more about the new $5 bill, President Lincoln and the Federal Reserve. For more information, please call Joseph Elstner, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis at 314-444-4892 or David Blanchette, Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum at 217-558-0516.
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: March 13, 2008