Frequently Asked Questions

Questions and answers pertaining to the South African Reserve Bank and the new banknotes



What is the new feature on the banknotes?
Answer: This feature consists of little dots that will appear on the front and back of all Mandela series banknotes going forward.
When will the new feature appear on banknotes going forward?
Answer: The new feature will be introduced in a phased manner and will be gradually introduced into circulation from 6 November 2013.
Can the little dots be defined as a security feature?
Answer: Yes they are a security feature.
Will the new feature be present in all denominations?
Answer: Yes, it will be present in all denominations.
What happens to the banknotes without the new feature?
All banknotes will remain legal tender. All Mandela banknotes will continue to co-circulate together with the Big 5 banknotes.
What will happen to banknotes without the new feature?
Answer: All banknotes namely the “Big Five”, Mandela banknotes, will remain in circulation. Thus, banknotes without this feature will continue to co-circulate.
The new feature is present in the old banknotes, why was it excluded in the design and why is it being re-introduced now?
Answer: The introduction of additional features forms part of the South African Reserve Bank’s (SARB) continuous enhancement of the security features of banknotes, which is in line with international best practice.
Is this new feature being introduced due to an increased incidence of counterfeiting?
Answer: No, the introduction of additional features forms part of the Reserve Bank’s obligation to the continuous of improvement of the security features of the banknotes, this is in line with international best practice.
Will vending machines and ATMs accept banknotes with the new feature?
Upgrading of cash handling machines is not required and both ATMs and vending machines will accept and dispense all banknotes.
Is the SARB going to embark on a nationwide and Common Monetary Area activations campaign to communicate the new feature?
Answer: No, the Bank will primarily communicate through advertisements on national television, radio, online and social media platforms. CMA central banks have been engaged in this process.
Is the intrinsic value of the banknotes with an enhanced feature, higher than the value of the existing notes?
Answer: No, both the new and existing banknotes have equal value.
Why are the new banknotes being introduced?
Answer: It is best practice to upgrade or develop a completely new banknote series every six to eight years. The South African Reserve Bank acts proactively to ensure that the country’s money remains among the safest currencies in the world. This ensures that newly developed, state-of-the-art security, technical and design features can continually be incorporated to safeguard the country’s currency.

Banknotes are a window to the country as a whole, its people, heritage and culture. As a national symbol, the country’s banknotes are often regarded second only to the national flag and Coat of Arms. Themes on a banknote offer an opportunity to portray national characteristics in an aesthetically (i.e., artistic and beautiful) pleasing manner.
Is there a problem with the current or old banknotes?
Answer: No, the current or old banknotes remain legal tender. The current and new banknotes will circulate together until the old ones are withdrawn from circulation.
Can I still use my old banknotes?
Answer: Yes, the current or old banknotes will remain in circulation and can be used at the same time as the new banknotes. Both banknotes are equally acceptable.
How do I know if my new banknotes are genuine?
Answer: The security features on South African banknotes are only useful if people use them. It is every user’s responsibility to get to know the new banknotes and to check the security features.

The new banknotes have a number of state-of-the-art security, technical and design features that can easily be identified. All you have to do is to look, feel and tilt.

  • The look: Identify the security, technical and design features incorporated both on the front and the back of the banknote. These features are the watermark, main motif, security thread, unique numbering, Coat of Arms, perfect print registration, micro-printing and the size of the new banknotes.
  • The tilt: (Hidden/latent image); when you hold a new banknote almost horizontally to your eyes, the denomination numeral appears in the band below the image of Nelson Mandela.
  • The feel: Feel the texture of the banknote paper. Some printing of the banknotes is raised from the surface of the paper. Intaglio, or raised printing, is a printing technique that gives the banknote a unique and rough feel, quite unlike the printing on a newspaper or book, which has a smooth feel to it. Raised printing is applied on the new banknotes on both sides of the banknotes.
These are just some of the security, technical and design features that will help you to confirm that your new banknotes are genuine.
Is it all right to check the new banknotes before I accept them?
Answer: Yes, you must be confident that banknotes are genuine before you accept them. Always check your money and never be embarrassed to check your money. Encourage others to do so too. Always check a combination of security, technical and design features. It is your right to check any money you receive.
If I am visually impaired, how do I recognise the new banknotes and tell that they are genuine?
Answer: There are a number of security features built into each new banknote specifically to reassure those who are visually impaired.

All new banknotes have pronounced raised printing on the bottom left- and right-hand sides on the front of the banknotes. Feel the texture of the banknote paper. Intaglio, or raised printing, is a printing technique that gives the banknote a unique and rough feel, quite unlike the printing on a newspaper or book, which has a smooth feel to it.

To identify the denomination or value feel for the following raised printing feature:

  • R10: One raised line
  • R20: Two raised lines
  • R50: Three raised lines
  • R100: Four raised lines
  • R200: Five raised lines

The denomination numerals on the front bottom right of the banknote are more prominent and the enhanced colours of the banknotes will also assist the visually impaired.

What should I do if I think I have been given a fake or suspect note?
Answer: You should refuse to accept it and ask for another banknote. Remember that it is a criminal offence to use and pass on a counterfeit note knowingly. Ensure that you know the security, technical and design features of the new banknotes. Report any suspect notes to the South African Police Service.
If I need more information on the new banknotes, where can I get it?
Answer: The South African Reserve Bank website provides a wealth of information on the new banknote series (www.resbank.co.za) or, alternatively, request additional information on the security, technical and design features from your bank.