The Bank of Canada has just announced that we will be getting new polymer (think plastic) based bank notes. The new notes will be harder to counterfeit and will last longer. So far we only have a new $100 bill but all other denomications should be in place by 2013. Like many currencies around the world, our current bills are made of a cotton based material . Although many last longer, these have an average life expectancy of about one year. The BoC claims that these new notes will have a life expectancy two and a half times as long. Not too shabby. The new bills also include a bunch of new security features that will make them much harder to counterfeit. You may have seen the security features on the CBC website but that list is actually incomplete. Here is the video directly from the Bank of Canada that lets you know all the things you should look for on these new notes. Very cool.
In 2001 Canada was one of the worst countries in the world for counterfeit bills. It was then that the BoC decided to start replacing our notes with something more difficult to copy. The effects were not seen until the level of counterfeiting peaked in 2004 and then began to decline. It is still a problem however. In 2010 about 2.6 million dollars worth of counterfeit notes were passed to banks. This means, of course, there is more in circulation. To see the entire breakdown take a look at the RCMP numbers here.
Near the bottom of that page you will see the methods that criminals are using to counterfeit the notes. An inkjet printer is the most common technique. If you watched that video you know that an inkjet printer will not reproduced the new notes convincingly. So the new notes will be completely rolled out by 2013 and that leaves a lot of time for people to get fooled by the current batch. For current notes, you can find out how to spot them here. Remember that if you try to hand in a counterfeit note to any bank they will give you nothing for it so make sure you check notes when you get them. And if you happen catch someone trying to give you a fake based on the information you saw here, simply take half of its value and mail it to me.