Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

New Bank notes - brighter money


Why are our banknotes being upgraded?

The Reserve Bank regularly reviews and improves New Zealand’s banknotes to ensure their security features are updated. With technology constantly evolving, it’s important our banknotes keep up, to help ensure counterfeiting levels remain low. It has been fifteen years since the notes were last upgraded.


What notes will be upgraded?

All of the banknotes currently in use in New Zealand will be upgraded – so that’s the $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 banknotes.


When will the new notes start circulating?

The new notes will be released progressively, in order of denomination. The target release date for the $5 and $10 is October 2015, with the $20, $50 and $100 likely released in April 2016. The existing notes will remain in use after the new notes are introduced. Both the current series and new notes will be legal tender. The older notes will be automatically withdrawn when they return to the Reserve Bank as part of the normal cash processing cycle. It may take a few weeks or months for you to see the new notes when they first enter circulation.


What differences will we notice in the new notes?

The notes will have a brighter, more modern look, with the note denomination shown in larger print and greater colour contrast between notes. The notes will feature more te reo Māori, and will contain more sophisticated security features that will greatly enhance the overall design. They will be the same sizes as the current notes, and be made of the same flexible, durable plastic.


What security features will be used?

The notes will continue to feature ‘windows’, as on the current notes. But these will feature a greater level of both design and security. Several other additional security features will be added, including colour changing/optically variable features. More information about how to use the security features will be released as part of the public awareness campaign before the notes are released.


Is counterfeiting an issue in New Zealand?

We have very low counterfeiting rates by international standards. But recently the technology used for counterfeiting has improved, so we need to strengthen our security features to combat this.


What features will be used to help visually impaired people?

The new note design features larger, bolder print showing the note’s value. Greater colour contrast between notes has also been introduced, to help visually impaired people distinguish one note from another. Different denominations will still be of different sizes, to ensure the visually impaired can continue to tell one note from another. This fact sheet for visually impaired people contains more information about these features.


Will my existing notes still be useable when the new notes come in?

Yes. The existing notes will remain in use after the new notes are introduced. Both sets will be legal tender. This means banks and retailers will accept the old and new notes, and may give both out as change.


Will the new banknotes work in ATMs and banknote equipment?

The Reserve Bank is working with manufacturers of banknote equipment to ensure they’re well prepared for the changes, and the transition to the new notes happens as seamlessly as possible. If you’re a retailer with banknote equipment, please contact your supplier to ensure they’re participating in our calibration programme – and check they’ve scheduled your machine calibrations. Who designs and prints the new notes?


Where will they be printed?

Canadian Bank Note Company (CBN) designs and prints the new banknotes at its plant in Ottawa, Canada.


When will I find out more about the notes?

A public awareness and advertising campaign will appear when the notes are released. And more information will be added to this website over time. You’ll find more details on the new notes here.