Receiving counterfeit money while in a foreign country is something that is not expected when traveling abroad. In fact, no one thinks to look up what to do when in a foreign country in case a counterfeit bill is received. It is definitely not out of the question that when money changes hands in a foreign country, especially with tourists, that a counterfeit bill may be involved. If caught circulating this bill, you could be in serious trouble with the authorities of that country, which not only ruins the trip, but goes a lot deeper than that.

Circulating counterfeit money is a very severe offense in the countries around the world. The reason why the crime is so severe is because counterfeiting poses a threat to the economy of that particular country. It results in financial loss for the citizens and has a harmful effect on the functioning of that country’s central bank and its reputation. When caught, offenders serve prison time. It depends on the country how much prison time is issued, but it is in your best interest to protect yourself in every way possible from becoming the latest victim of a counterfeiter. Even when circulating money with the best intentions, it is always good to know what is in your pocket.


There are devices that can detect counterfeit currency in some countries. The internet contains wonderful information on how to obtain counterfeit pen detectors, ultraviolet lights, and other devices that can be used to detect a counterfeit bill. If the country you’re going to does not have devices that you can acquire, then learn as much as you can about the currency and its security features. There are such things as grains, swirls, watermarks, fibers and other elements that are placed upon currency in order to set it apart from that which is not real. These security features are difficult for counterfeiters to duplicate, so it is good to know what they are.

What to do if you receive a counterfeit bill

First of all, when receiving money after a transaction, be sure to look at it closely. Don’t worry what the cashier will think of you because you may be thankful you did this later on. If you are not sure a bill is counterfeit, but it look suspicious, ask the cashier to give you another one and explain your suspicions so that they can put the bill to the side to avoid circulation. If they have tools to check the validity of the bill, ask them to do so if it does not appear there are any marks on the bill from prior checks.

If it is determined that the bill is counterfeit from your own device, the device of the cashier, or from visual verification, ask that the cashier call the authorities so that the bill can be turned over to them and the situation investigated. If you are going to ask the store clerk to call the authorities, and the store clerk verifies that you received the bill from their till, you will not be in trouble and can enjoy your vacation. This prevents you or anyone else from circulating the bill any further throughout the country. This can also keep a lot of people out of trouble and also saves the economy of that country a lot of money.

What it comes down to is being vigilant and knowing what to look for. In educating yourself about the currency of a foreign country as well as scams that target tourists, you can enjoy your vacation without the worries of someone trying to make you take the fall for their illegal actions.