Currency Image Use

Permissible Color Illustrations of U.S. Currency

Federal law permits color illustrations of U.S. currency only under the following conditions:

Magnified $20 Federal Reserve Note

  • The illustration is of a size less than three-fourths or more than one and one-half, in linear dimension, of each part of the item illustrated;
  • The illustration is one-sided; and
  • All negatives, plates, positives, digitized storage medium, graphic files, magnetic medium, optical storage devices and any other thing used in the making of the illustration that contain an image of the illustration or any part thereof are destroyed and/or deleted or erased after their final use.
    18 U.S.C. § 504(1), 31 CFR § 411.1.
     

Crimes Related to U.S. Currency

Federal law prohibits all of the following activities.

1. Creating Currency-Like Items and Attaching Notices to U.S. Currency

Under section 475 of the U.S. Criminal Code, “whoever designs, engraves, prints, makes, or executes, or utters, issues, distributes, circulates, or uses any business or professional card, notice, placard, circular, handbill, or advertisement in the likeness or similitude of any obligation or security of the United States issued under or authorized by any Act of Congress or writes, prints, or otherwise impresses upon or attaches to any such instrument, obligation, or security, or any coin of the United States, any business or professional card, notice, or advertisement, or any notice or advertisement whatever, shall be fined under this title.” 18 U.S.C. § 475.

2. Defacing U.S. Currency

Under section 333 of the U.S. Criminal Code, “whoever mutilates, cuts, defaces, disfigures, or perforates, or unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, or Federal Reserve bank, or the Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt unfit to be reissued, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.” 18 U.S.C. § 333

3. Creating Counterfeit U.S. Currency

Under section 471 of the U.S. Criminal Code, “whoever, with intent to defraud, falsely makes, forges, counterfeits, or alters any obligation or other security of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.” 18 U.S.C. § 471.

4. Passing Counterfeit U.S. Currency

Under section 472 of the U.S. Criminal Code, “whoever, with intent to defraud, passes, utters, publishes, or sells, or attempts to pass, utter, publish, or sell, or with like intent brings into the United States or keeps in possession or conceals any falsely made, forged, counterfeited, or altered obligation or other security of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.” 18 U.S.C. § 472.

5. Creating Fictitious Instruments Resembling U.S. Currency

Under section 514(a) of the U.S. Criminal Code, “(a) Whoever, with the intent to defraud‑‑(1) draws, prints, processes, produces, publishes, or otherwise makes, or attempts or causes the same, within the United States; (2) passes, utters, presents, offers, brokers, issues, sells, or attempts or causes the same, or with like intent possesses, within the United States; or (3) utilizes interstate or foreign commerce, including the use of the mails or wire, radio, or other electronic communication, to transmit, transport, ship, move, transfer, or attempts or causes the same, to, from, or through the United States, any false or fictitious instrument, document, or other item appearing, representing, purporting, or contriving through scheme or artifice, to be an actual security or other financial instrument issued under the authority of the United States, a foreign government, a State or other political subdivision of the United States, or an organization, shall be guilty of a class B felony.” 18 U.S.C. § 514.