The euro has been used as cash since 2002 and is now used by more than 338 million people in 19 European countries. Since 1 January 2011, the euro has been the only legal tender in Estonia.

The other countries in the euro area are Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy, Ireland, Austria, Finland, Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg, Greece, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Slovakia, Latvia and Lithuania. Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican also use the euro under an official agreement with the European Union.

Since 2013 the countries in the euro area have been gradually introducing the second series of euro banknotes into circulation. What makes this series stand out is the new security features that use the mythological Greek character Europa, after whom the continent is named.

The nominal values of the second series of banknotes are the same as before: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros. The first of the new series to be issued was the five-euro note on 2 May 2013, and on 23 September 2014 the new ten-euro note was issued into circulation throughout the euro area. The second series of twenty-euro notes will be issued on 25 November 2015.

The new notes continue the theme of “ages and styles” from the first series and use the same colours but have been visually modified to accommodate a range of new and enhanced security features. The notes of the second series are slightly different from those of the first. An independent banknote designer based in Berlin, Reinhold Gerstetter, refreshed the design of the euro banknotes.

The new banknotes also take into account the countries which joined the European Union after the launch of the first series. They have the name of the currency, euro, written on them in the Latin (EURO) Greek (EYPΩ) and Cyrillic (EBPO) alphabets, as a result of Bulgaria joining the European Union in 2007. The map of Europe has been revised to include Malta and Cyprus, and the initials of the European Central Bank are shown in nine linguistic variants.

Both series of notes will be used in parallel initially, but the banknotes of the first series will gradually be withdrawn from circulation and then they will cease to be legal tender. The public will be informed of the date for this well in advance. There will be no limits on how long the banknotes of the first series will hold their value, and it will be possible to exchange them at the central bank at any time.

So that the new twenty-euro note can enter smoothly into circulation, it is important for companies to update their cash handling equipment in good time. Having cash handling and authentication devices ready technically will make sure that payments with the new banknote can be made correctly when it enters circulation. If the cash authentication device is broken or needs updating, it is still possible to check the authenticity of notes using the feel, look, tilt method. For more details see the website of the second series.

Notes and coins