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When Money Is Damaged or Wears Out

Even though United States currency is strong and durable, it does wear out with constant handling.

Damaged Dollar Bill

All currency in circulation is routinely deposited to Federal Reserve Banks by commercial banks. Worn notes are systematically destroyed by Federal Reserve Banks during ordinary currency processing. The destroyed notes are replaced by new currency provided by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The note most frequently replaced is the $1 denomination. There are over four billion $1 bills in circulation, and the life expectancy of each is approximately 18 months. Since larger denominations are handled less, they last longer.

When a note is partially destroyed, the Treasury Department will replace it if clearly more than half of the original remains. Fragments of mutilated currency which are not clearly more than one half of the original whole note may be exchanged only if the Director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is satisfied by the evidence presented that the missing portions have been totally destroyed.

Damaged Dollar Bill

Damaged or mutilated notes should be taken to a bank for redemption. When partially destroyed currency is of questionable value, the fragments should be sent by registered mail to the Department of the Treasury, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, OCS/BEPA, P.O. Box 37048, Washington, D.C. 20013. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing can be accessed through the Internet at

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