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Contaminated Currency and Coin

Contaminated Currency Depositing Procedures

These procedures must be followed when depositing currency that has been damaged by or exposed to a contaminant or impurity that poses a health hazard or safety risk. The procedures do not apply to currency that has been exposed to a bio-terrorist agent (viruses, bacteria or other germs used to cause illness or death in people, animals or plants). Please contact your local Federal Reserve Bank cash office for specific instructions on how to deposit currency that has been exposed to a bio-terrorist agent.

Institutions that have executed a contract governing international currency activity in accordance with Section 3.1 of Operating Circular 2 that intend to deposit contaminated currency relating to such activity, must work with their servicing FRB to obtain instructions.

Currency may become contaminated due to:

  • Prolonged exposure to water or other liquids that results in the existence of mold.
  • Exposure to blood, urine, feces or any other bodily fluids, including removal from any body cavity, corpse or animal.
  • Exposure to sewage.
  • Exposure to any chemical, liquid or foreign substance that may pose a health hazard or safety risk.
  • Exposure to tear gas used in most dye packs. Note: The dye used in dye packs is not considered a contaminant. Notes stained from the dye alone should be deposited normally.

Currency which has been damaged to the extent that its value is questionable is not handled by the Federal Reserve Bank. These notes, which are commonly referred to as mutilated currency, should be sent to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Mutilated Currency Division, Office of Financial Management for validation and redemption.

For more information, please visit the BEP's Redeem Mutilated Currency (Off-site) page.

Procedures for Depositing Contaminated Currency

Prepare contaminated currency deposits using the following step-by-step process. Deposits will be refused if these requirements are not met. Please contact your local Federal Reserve Cash office with any questions.

  1. Separate contaminated currency from normal deposits.
  2. If contaminated notes are old United States currencies1 or high denomination notes ($500s and above), they must be packaged separately.
  3. Contaminated currency must be prepared by denomination, in straps of 100 notes and in bundles of 10 straps.
  4. Rubber bands must be used to secure multiple full straps (100 notes of a single denomination) and, contrary to normal deposit procedures, should be securely placed around the middle of the bundle.
  5. Partial straps of 50 notes or less of a single denomination must be fanned in a way that allows for more than 50 percent of each note to be clearly visible through all of the packaging material. Staples should be used to secure the fan before the notes are placed into the bag.
  6. Partial straps containing between 51 and 99 notes of a single denomination must be wrapped with a paper band. The band must be marked with the piece count and dollar amount.
  7. Contaminated currency must be double-bagged, and the bags must be large enough to permit movement of the currency inside the bag for initial visual inspection.
  8. Both bags must be clear, plastic and have tamper evident seals.
  9. The word "CONTAMINATED" must be written in permanent marker and large letters on the outside of the outer bag. Any exterior printing on the bags must not inhibit the view of the bagged contents.
  10. Do not include any extraneous items (paper clips, deposit documents, bag tags, dye pack mechanisms, etc.) inside or between the inner and outer bags. Staples used to secure fanned notes are allowable. The presence of extraneous items will result in your deposit being returned.
  11. Provide advance written notification to your local Federal Reserve Bank cash office by completing the Contaminated Currency Notification form. When completing the form, be sure to provide as much information as possible regarding the type and extent of the contamination. Failure to provide this information will result in your deposit being returned.
  12. Complete a separate Federal Reserve Bank deposit document or electronic deposit notification form that includes the denominational breakdown and total of the contaminated currency. The deposit document should accompany the contaminated deposit.

If proper advance notification of a contaminated currency deposit does not occur, or if proper packaging requirements are not met, the Federal Reserve Banks reserve the right to return the deposit to the financial institution. For more information, contact your local Cash office.

Contaminated Coin Procedures

The Federal Reserve does not accept deposits of Contaminated Coin. Customers who wish to deposit coin after decontamination should contact their FedCash Services contact.

You may reference the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for information on how to decontaminate coin (Off-site).

For more information about FedCash Services processing and operations, visit the service offerings pages or consult your local FedCash Services contact.


1All large size currencies; National Bank notes, small size; Federal Reserve Bank notes, small size; and Gold certificates, small size, series 1928 only.

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