Paper Money

BEP efforts to recover hurricane damaged notes

Melissa White, a mutilated currency specialist with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, demonstrated her expertise in reassembling damaged currency for possible redemption at the American Numismatic Association National Money Show in May 2012. The BEP is reminding recent hurricane victims that it offers a mutilated currency redemption service.

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The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is encouraging victims of Hurricanes Harvey or Irma who may have Federal Reserve notes that have been damaged by flood waters to send that currency to be reviewed for possible redemption as soon as they are able.

The BEP said in a Sept. 14 press release that it is giving priority to processing mutilated paper currency claims resulting from the hurricanes to speed recovery efforts for those affected. Flood victims submitting a claim should mark HURRICANE on the outside of the package.

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BEP’s Mutilated Currency Division reviews mutilated currency (but not coins) that is damaged to the extent that its value is questionable. This may occur as a result of fire, water, chemicals, ground deterioration, or other physical means. This is a free, public service that processes approximately 30,000 claims annually.

“We firmly stand with everyone affected in Texas, Florida, and the surrounding areas that experienced such devastation,” said BEP Director Len Olijar. “BEP prides itself on serving our customers and we will do whatever it takes to lessen the impact of these disasters.”

For information about how to submit a claim for review, visit BEP’s website, or contact the Mutilated Currency Division by email at or toll free at (866) 575-2361.

The instructions for submitting a mutilated currency claim are detailed and specific. Normally, more than half of the note must remain identifiable as U.S. currency, and if not, says the BEP, the method of mutilation and supporting evidence must demonstrate to the satisfaction of BEP that the missing parts were totally destroyed. 

The currency can be delivered in person to the BEP in Washington or sent by mail. In either case, fragments should not be disturbed and packed carefully in plastic or cotton. If the money was damaged in a container such as a purse, box, or wallet, the money should be left where it was and sent intact. It should not be rolled, taped, glued, or otherwise altered. However, if it was in a roll when damaged, it should be left that way. Resolution of claims usually takes from six month to three years, depending on the complexity of the review.

The Federal Reserve Bank Financial Services division offers guidance and an interesting YouTube video for financial institutions about packing and depositing currency contaminated by blood, sewage, tear gas, and mold at its website, There is a separate set of procedures for currency that has been exposed to viruses and bacteria, or what the Federal Reserve calls a “bio-terrorist agent.” 

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