Each of the seven Euro banknote denominations carry a small six-character printing code. This printing code is organised in the form of letter-digit-digit-digit-letter-digit, which is then broken into four groups, uniquely identifying each banknote and revealing printing location and production information. Some users often refer to this code as the 'short code'.

The print code is located on the front side of all Euro banknotes, in various areas on each denomination:

Locations of Print Code on Each Denomination
Denomination Print Code Location
€5
€10
€20
€50
€100
€200
€500

In the example printing code "T001D1", the four groups are 'T', '001', 'D' and '1'.

Description of Euro banknote Print Code groups
Code
Portion
Description
Initial letter (T) Printing facility
1st-3rd digits (001) Printing plate
2nd letter (D) Row location of banknote on printing plate
Final digit (1) Column location of banknote on printing plate

Printing Facilities

Of the sixteen EMU Member States that issue Euro banknotes, eleven have printing facilities. Cyprus, Luxembourg, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia do not have printing facilities. Germany and France have two. One facility is located in the United Kingdom. Italy, Ireland, Greece and Belgium are the only Member States whose facilities are natioanlised; the others are private. The UK facility licensed to print Euro banknotes, De La Rue, is a private company. Velora S.A., the Portuguese printing facility is a joint venture between the private Da La Rue and the national Central Bank of Portugal. San Marino, Monaco and Vatican City do not issue Euro banknotes.

Euro banknote printing facilities and their identification code
Code Letter Facility Location Member State(s) Commissioning Production
D Setec Oy Vantaa, Finland Finland
E F. C. Oberthur Chantepie, France Finland, France, Slovenia
F Österreichische Banknoten und Sicherheitsdruck Vienna, Austria Austria, Greece, Ireland, Netherlands
G Koninklijke Joh. Enschedé Haarlem, Netherlands Austria, Greece, Netherlands, Spain
H De La Rue Gateshead, UK Finland, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal
J Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato Rome, Italy Italy
K Banc Ceannais na hÉireann / Central Bank of Ireland Dublin, Ireland Ireland
L Banque de France Chamalières, France France
M Fábrica Nacional de Moneda y Timbre Madrid, Spain Spain
N Bank of Greece Athens, Greece Greece
P Giesecke & Devrient Munich and Leipzig, Germany Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Spain
R Bundesdruckerei Berlin, Germany Germany, Greece
T National Bank of Belgium Brussels, Belgium Belgium, France, Spain
U Valora S.A. Carregado, Portugal Portugal

The code letters A, C and S are reserved for future Euro banknote printing facilities. The code letters B, I, O and Q are not used because they could be confused with numbers.

Reserved identification codes for future Euro banknote printing facilities
Reserved
Code Letter
Facility Location
A Bank of England Printing Works Loughton, UK
C Tumba Bruk Tumba, Sweden
S Danmarks Nationalbank Copenhagen, Denmark

Aside from the reserved codes, which were established in 1997, before the first EU expansion of 2004, Euro area enlargement would provide further expansion of identification code letters. Of the eight 2004-2007 EU enlargement countries not currently using the Euro, four have printing works and would be assigned the next viable sequential Latin letter. Should the identification code letters run to the end of the Latin alphabet, the non-similar letters of the Greek alphabet will be used. The first Greek letter would be delta (Δ); the Greek letter gamma (Γ) would not be used since it could be mistaken for a number.

Bulgaria, Czechia, Hungary and Poland each have banknote printing facilities that are assumed to be licensed in the future to produce Euro banknotes once they adopt the Euro.

Banknote printing facilities in 2004-2007 EU enlargement countries
Facility Location
Печатница на БНБ АД
(BNB Printing Works Corp.)
Sofia, Bulgaria
Statni Tiskarna Cenin (STC Praha)
(State Security Printing)
Prague, Czechia
Pénzjegynyomda Zrt.
(Hungarian Banknote Printing Shareholding Company)
Budapest, Hungary
Polska Wytwórnia Papierów Wartościowych S.A. (PWPW)
(Polish Security Printing Works)
Warsaw, Poland

SEE Also: Why doesn't the UK Sweden and Denmark use the Euro?

Printing Plate

Printing plate at Chamalières, France.

A printing plate is used in the banknote printing process to transfer the largest portion of ink used on the banknote to paper. Other methods are used to apply the various security features that make up the remainder of the design. Plates are engraved in pairs- one for the back and one for the front. Since the printing works of the various Member States of the EMU have been in operation far longer than the history of the Euro, there is no set standard between facilities regarding banknote sheet dimensions. Some print 35 banknotes per sheet, others may print 45 banknotes per sheet. This is also dependant on the denomination since each differs in size.

Each pair of printing plates are assigned a sequential number. A printing plate's viability is determined through strict quality control methods and has no pre-determined life. After a plate pair is determined to no longer be capable of printing acceptable banknotes, it is replaced with another pair of plates, with a new number; the next in the sequence.

Prior to the introduction of the Euro as a currency in 1999, it was determined that the designs of the Euro banknotes would change about once every ten years to reflect changes in EMU membership, update security features and provide less opportunity for counterfeiters to undermine the currency. Based on this determination, it is not expected that more than 999 printing plates would ever be produced at any Euro banknote printing facility during the course of a single series. As of January, 2009, the greatest number of plates that have been used at a single facility is 24.

A whole plate can be ruined by even one small mistake in the engraving of a plate.

Banknote sheet printed in Greece. The lines indicate that the banknotes did not meet the quality control inspection and therefore must be destroyed.

Printing Code

Each of the banknotes on a printing plate are assigned a letter (the second letter in the printing code) and a number (the last digit in the printing code), based on its location on the printing plate. The letter refers to the row, the number refers to the column. €20 banknotes printed at the Greek facility (right) are arranged in seven rows and five columns. The rows are coded A-E, the columns 1-7.

The example code "T001D1" indicates that the banknote was produced in Belgium (T), on the first printing plate (001) and is located in the fourth row (D), first column (1).

While a printing code can be duplicated several thousand times, the combination of the serial number and printing code will never be duplicated, giving each and every single Euro banknote a unique combination of identifying codes.

Production Commission

National Central Banks of EMU Member States without banknote production facilities will commission printing facilities licensed to produce Euro banknotes. The only exception to this is the Central Bank of Luxembourg. Their allocation is produced with the national identification of the facility where the banknotes are produced. The only exception to this is that the printing facility in the UK, since the UK is not a member of the EMU, cannot produce Luxembourg's Euro banknote allocation.

Not all denominations are issued by all NCBs and some NCBs have not issued certain denominations at all. For example, the NCBs of Belgium, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg and Slovenia have yet to issue a €5 banknote.

According to Italy's currency act, only the printing facility in Italy can issue Italian allocated Euro banknotes and can not issue any Euro banknotes allocated to another country.