Currency refers to the system of money for a particular country. In the case of the euro, it refers to the system of bank notes and coins used by the Eurozone members of the European Union. Banknotes come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euro. They vary in size, color and patterns. Coins come in cents and euros. Cents are minted in 1-, 2-, 5-, 10-, 20- and 50-cent denominations. Euro coins are 1- and 2-euro. The coins vary in size, color, thickness and design, depending on their value.

Reading Euro Bank Notes

Note the name “Euro” is written in Latin letters and in Greek, “Eypo,” because both alphabets are used by the European Union, or EU. These inscriptions are found on both sides of the notes. The denomination is denoted by a numeral on both sides of the note. Each denomination displays an architectural design element based on the seven periods of Europe’s cultural history. Elements often depicted are windows, gateways and bridges.

Look for other visible features on the front and back of the notes, including a watermark, see-through number and security thread. Hold the bill up to a light to view the watermark on the left side of the front (or the right side on the reverse side). Use this same method to see the security thread that runs vertically less than halfway across the face of the note.

Tilt the note to see a hologram on the right end of the front side. Turn the note over to see a glossy stripe on 5, 10 or 20 euro banknotes. The stripe will change colors on 50, 100, 200 or 500 euro notes.

Check for additional security features by using a magnifying glass to view microprinting or an ultraviolet lamp for special color effects.

Reading Euro Coins

Euro coins have what's known as a common side and a country-specific side, as oppssed to banknotes which have the same design for each member state. The coin's common side is identical for each EU state, whereas the reverse side represents the uniqueness of the issuing country. For instance, the Netherlands coins feature the profile of Queen Beatrix. EU coins can be used in any EU member country.

Note the common sides of the coins depict a map of Europe and the 12 EU stars. The denomination is noted by a numeral and the designation “euro” or “euro cent.” The national side is a design chosen by each nation. Some use a different design for each denomination. The national side of each coin has the common element of the 12 EU stars.

Identify the coins by their size and color. Copper is the color of the 1-, 2- and 5-cent euro coins. Yellow gold is the color of the 10-, 20- and 50-cent euro coin. The 1-euro coin is a silver coin with a yellow gold outer ring. The 2-euro coin is a yellow gold coin with a silver outer ring.


The seven periods of Europe’s cultural history are: Classical, Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo, the Age of Iron and Glass, and modern 20th-century architecture.

Due to a special printing process, the designs on the notes have a raised feel.

Each euro banknote features the 12 stars of the European Union.

Each member state can issue a commemorative 2-euro coin annually.

The edges of the coins vary. Some are smooth, some feature fine scallops, and others have a narrow groove.