Euro banknotes have to be genuine and of high quality if people are to have confidence in them. The national central banks therefore check all euro banknotes to ensure that they are authentic and not damaged or dirty before re-issuing them.
Euro banknotes which are damaged (e.g. partially burnt, cut or decomposed) and which fulfil certain criteria will be replaced by the national central banks (NCBs) of the euro area. For example, an NCB will replace a damaged euro banknote if you present more than half of the banknote or can prove that the missing (larger) part of the banknote has been destroyed. Intentionally damaged euro banknotes will not be redeemed.
Damaged banknotes are normally replaced free of charge by the national central banks. A fee is charged for euro banknotes which have accidentally been damaged by anti-theft devices.
Banknotes issued by national central banks
The NCBs have fully automated banknote processing machines to check the banknotes they receive. These machines sort the notes to maintain high standards of quality. In 2010, the NCBs categorised some 5.8 billion banknotes as unfit for circulation and replaced them. Soiled or damaged banknotes are destroyed.