2008-01-09 / Front Page

About the $20 bill

A safer, smarter and more secure $20 bill began circulating October 9, 2003, as part of the United States government's ongoing effort to stay ahead of counterfeiting and maintain worldwide confidence and trust in United States currency. The redesigned $20 bill was the first in the Series 2004 currency designs, which include enhanced security features and subtle background colors.

Security Features

The new $20 bills are safer, smarter and more secure: safer because they're harder to fake and easier to check; smarter to stay ahead of tech-savvy counterfeiters; more secure to protect the integrity of United States currency. Because these features are difficult for counterfeiters to reproduce well, they often do not try, hoping that cash handlers and the public will not check their money.

Color-Shifting Ink: Look at the number "20" in the lower right corner on the face of the bill. When you tilt the bill up and down, the color-shifting ink changes from copper to green. The color shift is more dramatic in the redesigned currency making it even easier for people to check their money.

Watermark: Hold the bill up to the light and look for the watermark, or faint image, similar to the large portrait. The watermark is part of the paper itself and it can be seen from both sides of the bill.

Security Thread: Hold the bill up to the light and look for the security thread, or plastic strip, that is embedded in the paper and runs vertically up one side of the bill. If you look closely, the words "USA TWENTY" and a small flag are visible along the thread from both sides of the bill. The security thread also glows green under ultraviolet light.

Design Features

To stay ahead of currency counterfeiters, the United States will be introducing new currency designs every seven to ten years. Not only will many of these design updates add complexity to the bill and make counterfeiting more difficult, other features will help the public, particularly those with visual impairments, to tell denominations apart.

Symbols of Freedom: Appearing on the face of the bill are two American eagle "symbols of freedom." The large blue eagle in the background to the left of President Andrew Jackson's portrait is representative of those drawn and sculpted during his time period. The smaller green metallic eagle to the lower right of the portrait is a more contemporary illustration, using the same "raised ink" intaglio process as the portrait, numerals and engravings. The symbols of freedom will differ for each denomination.

Color: The most noticeable difference in the redesigned $20 bill is the addition of subtle background colors of green, peach and blue to both sides of the bill. This marked the first time in modern American history that U.S. cash included colors other than black and green. The words "TWENTY USA" are printed in blue in the background to the right of the portrait and small yellow numeral "20"s are printed in the background on the back of the bill. Different background colors will be used for the different denominations. This will help everyone to tell denominations apart.

Updated Portrait and Vignette: The oval borders and fine lines surrounding the portrait on the face and the White House vignette on the back of the bill are removed. The portrait is moved up and shoulders are extended into the border. Additional engraving details were added to the vignette background.

Microprinting: Because they are so small, microprinted words are hard to replicate. The redesigned $20 bill features microprinting on the face of the bill in two new areas: bordering the first three letters of the "TWENTY USA" ribbon to the right of the portrait, the inscription "USA20" is printed in blue. And "THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 20 USA 20" appears in black on the border below the Treasurer's signature.

Low-Vision Feature: The large numeral "20" in the lower right corner on the back of the bill is easy to read.

Federal Reserve Indicators: A universal seal to the left of the portrait represents the entire Federal Reserve System. A letter and number beneath the left serial number identifies the issuing Federal Reserve Bank.

Serial Numbers: The unique combination of eleven numbers and letters appears twice on the face of the bill.

For more information visit www.moneyfactory.gov.

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