Money and Currency
Frequently Asked Questions
  1. Traveling with monetary instruments, currency, checks etc. - Do I have to pay duty?
  2. Where can I file a U.S. tax return?
  3. What's the current exchange rate?
  4. How much was $1,000 worth in the year 1945?

Paper Currency

  1. What is a greenback?
  2. What denominations of currency are in circulation today? Will any new denominations be produced?
  3. What was the highest denomination of United States currency ever produced?
  4. What denominations of currency notes is Treasury Department no longer printing?
  5. Did the Treasury Department ever produce $1 million currency note?
  6. Why did the Treasury Department remove the $2 bill from circulation?
  7. Why were certain individuals chosen to be pictured on U.S. paper currency?
  8. What portraits are found on United States paper currency that is in circulation today? Whose portraits were included on currency notes that are no longer produced?
  9. What is the significance of the symbols on the back of the one-dollar bill? I'm particularly interested in the eye and the pyramid.
  10. What is the significance of the series date on U.S. currency? Doesn't the date change each year as it does with coins?
  11. What states are shown on the back of the five-dollar bill?
  12. Is the Treasury Department going to change the designs on U.S. paper money?
  13. How much paper currency does the Treasury Department print every day? Where is it printed?
  14. What can you tell me about the paper that is used to make U.S. currency notes? I'm also interested in the size and weight of the notes.
  15. What is the average life of a Federal Reserve Note?
  16. Why are United States paper currency notes printed using green ink?
  17. What is the origin of the $ sign?
  18. Why is the word "buck" used for the dollar?

U.S. Coins

  1. What is the correct term for a one-cent coin?
  2. Are there any plans to remove the one-cent coin (more popularly known as the "penny") from circulation?
  3. Why is the five-cent coin (the nickel) larger than the ten-cent coin (the dime)? What determines the sizes of U.S. coins?
  4. What denominations of coins are no longer being produced?
  5. What portraits are shown on circulating U.S. coins?
  6. Why are the values of United States coins shown in words and not numbers?
  7. How many coins does the United States Mint produce and where are they made?

Population

  1. What is the minimum wage in the U.S. now and in 1990?


Answers
  1. Traveling with monetary instruments, currency, checks etc. - Do I have to pay duty?
    Customs does not collect duty on currency. However, travelers leaving or entering the U.S. are required to report monetary instruments (i.e. currency or checks) valued at $10,000 or more on a "Report of International Transportation of Currency or Monetary Instruments" form FinCEN 105. You can obtain the form in advance and download it from here FinCEN 105, or a CBP officer can give it to you upon your departure or return to the U.S. Failure to declare currency in amounts of over $10,000 can result in its seizure.Information on the FinCEN 105 is provided to the IRS, and they determine whether or not the importation of monies constitutes income subject to taxation. The requirement to import currency on a FinCEN 105 does not apply to imports of gold bullion.

  2. Where can I file a U.S. tax return?
    See "Where to File Addresses", Internal Revenue Service.

  3. What's the current exchange rate?
    Currency Converter converts currency between 164 different countries.

  4. How much was $1,000 worth in the year 1945?
    Goods and services costing $1,000 in 1945 would cost $11,205.56 in 2006, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis' CPI Calculation (Limited to years from 1913 to present). The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure of the average change in prices over time in a market basket of goods and services. The CPI is used to calculate how prices have changed over the years. An Inflation Calculator is available for the years 1800- 2005.

Paper Currency

  1. What is a greenback?
    The nickname "greenback" originated as a name for Demand Notes, non-interest-bearing notes with green backs issued by the United States in 1861 to finance the Civil War. Source: The Bureau of Engraving and Printing page of the U.S. Dept. of Treasury.

  2. What denominations of currency are in circulation today? Will any new denominations be produced?
    The present denominations of U.S. currency in production are $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. The purpose of the United States currency system is to serve the needs of the public and these denominations meet that goal. Present U.S. currency in circulation satisfies the public at large, and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) has no plans to change the denominations in use today. The 100 dollar note has been the largest denomination of currency in circulation since 1969. You can see all the banknotes at U.S. Banknotes.

  3. What was the highest denomination of United States currency ever produced?
    The largest denomination of currency ever printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) was the $100,000 Series 1934 Gold Certificate featuring the portrait of President Wilson. These notes were printed from December 18, 1934 through January 9, 1935 and were issued by the Treasurer of the United States to Federal Reserve Banks only against an equal amount of gold bullion held by the Treasury Department. The notes were used only for official transactions between Federal Reserve Banks and were not circulated among the general public.

  4. What denominations of currency notes is Treasury Department no longer printing?
    On July 14, 1969, David M. Kennedy, the 60th Secretary of the Treasury, and officials at the Federal Reserve Board announced that they would immediately stop distributing currency in denominations of $500, $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000. Production of these denominations stopped during World War II. Their main purpose was for bank transfer payments. With the arrival of more secure transfer technologies, however, they were no longer needed for that purpose. While these notes are legal tender and may still be found in circulation today, the Federal Reserve Banks remove them from circulation and destroy them as they are received.

  5. Did the Treasury Department ever produce $1 million currency note?
    People have actually sent copies of such notes to the Embassy. We have found that they are nonnegotiable platinum certificates known as a "One Million Dollar Special Issue." These notes were from a special limited copyrighted art series originally sold by a Canadian firm for $1.00 each as a collectible item. They are not official United States currency notes manufactured by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP). As such, they are not redeemable by the Department of the Treasury. You may be interested to know that the BEP learned of these certificates in the spring of 1982. All related correspondence was forwarded to the United States Secret Service to decide if there were any violations of Federal currency laws. The Secret Service subsequently advised, however, that these certificates did not violate any United States law.

  6. Why did the Treasury Department remove the $2 bill from circulation?
    Contrary to the impression of many people, the Treasury Department did not stop circulating the $2 bill. On September 12, 1996, Robert E. Rubin, the 70th Secretary of the Treasury, was presented with a new series $2 bill. The Series 1995 notes were printed at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing's (BEP) Western Currency Facility and bear the seal of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

    The $2 bill remains one of the American circulating currency denominations. According to BEP statistics, 590,720,000 Series 1976 $2 bills were printed and as of February 28, 1999, there was $1,166,091,458 worth of $2 bills in circulation worldwide. The key for successfully circulating the two-dollar bill is for retailers to use them just like any other denomination in their daily operations. In addition, most commercial banks will readily supply their retail customers with these bills if their customers request them in sufficient volume to justify stocking them in their vaults. However, neither the Treasury Department nor the Federal Reserve System can force the distribution or use of any denomination of currency on banks, businesses or individuals.

  7. Why were certain individuals chosen to be pictured on U.S. paper currency?
    As with the U.S. coinage, the Secretary of the Treasury usually selects the designs shown on United States currency. Unless specified by an Act of Congress, the Secretary generally has the final approval. This is done with the advice of Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) officials. In addition, the Commission on Fine Arts reviews all of the designs. The law prohibits portraits of living persons from appearing on Government Securities. Therefore, the portraits on U.S. currency notes are of deceased persons whose places in history the American people know well. The basic face and back designs of all denominations of U.S. paper currency in circulation today were selected in 1928, although they were modified to improve security against counterfeiting starting in 1996. A committee appointed to study such matters made those choices. The only exception is the reverse design of the one-dollar bill. Unfortunately, however, our records do not suggest why certain Presidents and statesmen were chosen for specific denominations.

  8. What portraits are found on United States paper currency that is in circulation today? Whose portraits were included on currency notes that are no longer produced?
    United States currency notes now in production bear the following portraits: George Washington on the $1 bill, Thomas Jefferson on the $2 bill, Abraham Lincoln on the $5 bill, Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill, Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill, Ulysses S. Grant on the $50 bill, and Benjamin Franklin on the $100 bill. There are also several denominations of currency notes that are no longer produced. These include the $500 bill with the portrait of William McKinley, the $1,000 bill with a portrait of Grover Cleveland, the $5,000 bill with a portrait of James Madison, the $10,000 bill with a portrait of Salmon P. Chase, and the $100,000 currency note bearing a portrait of Woodrow Wilson.

  9. What is the significance of the symbols on the back of the one-dollar bill? I'm particularly interested in the eye and the pyramid.
    The eye and the pyramid shown on the reverse side of the one-dollar bill are in the Great Seal of the United States. The Great Seal was first used on the reverse of the one-dollar Federal Reserve note in 1935. Mandated by the First Continental Congress in 1776, the Great Seal took many years of work by multiple individuals and committees before final adoption in 1782. The Department of State is the official keeper of the Seal. The most prominent feature is the American bald eagle supporting the shield, or escutcheon, which is composed of 13 red and white stripes, representing the original States, and a blue top which unites the shield and represents Congress. The olive branch and 13 arrows denote the power of peace and war, which is exclusively vested in Congress. The constellation of stars denotes a new State taking its place and rank among other sovereign powers. They believe that the most accurate explanation of a pyramid on the Great Seal is that it symbolizes strength and durability. The unfinished pyramid means that the United States will always grow, improve and build. In addition, the "All-Seeing Eye" located above the pyramid suggests the importance of divine guidance in favor of the American cause. The inscription Annuit Coeptis translates as "He (God) has favored our undertakings," and refers to the many instances of Divine Providence during our Government's formation. In addition, the inscription NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM translates as "A new order of the ages," and signifies the beginning of the new American era in 1776.

  10. What is the significance of the series date on U.S. currency? Doesn't the date change each year as it does with coins?
    Each time the design on American paper currency notes changes, a new series date appears on the face of the bill. This shows the year that the design change occurred. The series date on currency notes does not change each calendar year as it does on coins, but only when there is a major revision in the basic design. The capital letter following the series year shows that a minor design change was authorized in a particular series. Such a change occurs after the appointment of a new Secretary of the Treasury or Treasurer of the United States. At this time, the signature(s) found on the notes also change. A change in only one signature is a minor revision.

  11. What states are shown on the back of the five-dollar bill?
    The vignette on the reverse of the five-dollar bill depicts the Lincoln Memorial. You may be aware that, engraved on that Memorial are the names of the 48 states in 1922, which was the year the Memorial was dedicated. There are engravings of 26 State names on front of the building, which appears on the note vignette. As a result, only 26 of the States appear on the note. The upper frieze of the Memorial bears the States of Arkansas, Michigan, Florida, Texas, Iowa, Wisconsin, California, Minnesota, Oregon, Kansas, West Virginia, Nevada, Nebraska, Colorado, and North Dakota. The lower Frieze lists the States of Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, Virginia, and New York. In addition, the engravings show the abbreviated names "Hampshire" (for New Hampshire) and "Carolina" (for South Carolina). We have no information why the prefixes for these states were not used.

  12. Is the Treasury Department going to change the designs on U.S. paper money?
    Most people are now aware that the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) issued newly-designed currency notes beginning in 1996. The current design effort is a response to the need to anticipate potential problems with counterfeiting and to prevent criminals from abusing United States paper currency. Research for counterfeit deterrent features is a continuing process that has already resulted in two recent features being added. These features are not readily visible to the naked eye. Specifically, there is an embedded polyester thread identifying the denomination, and microprinting around the portrait on the face of the note. Neither of these recent changes altered the appearance of American paper currency. The thread is visible with the naked eye, but only if you hold the note up to a light source. The microprinting is visible only under a magnifying glass. These features cannot be picked up by a copying machine. This is how many counterfeiters produce currency notes today.

    The Treasury Department has historically continued to honor previous designs of American currency. Furthermore, the Department has never recalled currency when introducing a new design. There are billions of dollars in U.S. currency circulating worldwide. Any new design, when issued, would enter circulation in a deliberate and organized way, avoiding any recall or exchange. This will ensure the continued confidence of people in the value of the U.S. currency they now possess.

  13. How much paper currency does the Treasury Department print every day? Where is it printed?
    The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) headquarters is located in Washington, DC. The BEP is responsible for designing and printing U.S. paper currency. There is also a satellite production facility located in Fort Worth, Texas, which began operations in January 1991. The BEP produced approximately 37 million currency notes each day with a face value of about $696 million, and 45 percent of these notes are the $1 denomination. About 95 percent of the currency notes printed each year are used to replace notes that are already in circulation.

  14. What can you tell me about the paper that is used to make U.S. currency notes? I'm also interested in the size and weight of the notes.
    The paper that the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) uses to produce U.S. currency is "distinctive." A paper manufacturer produces it according to BEP specifications. It is composed of 75 percent cotton and 25 percent linen. The paper also contains red and blue fibers of various lengths that are evenly distributed throughout the paper. All denominations of paper currency notes printed since 1929 are the same size, measuring approximately 2.61 inches (6.63 centimeters) by 6.14 inches (15.60 centimeters). Each note is 0.0043 inches thick, and a stack of currency notes one mile high would contain over 14.5 million notes. If all of the currency notes printed were laid end to end, they would stretch around the earth's equator approximately 24 times. Each currency note, regardless of its denomination, weighs about one gram. There are 454 grams in one U.S. pound, so there should be 454 notes in a pound.

  15. What is the average life of a Federal Reserve Note?
    The following information regarding the average life of a Federal Reserve Note was provided by the Federal Reserve System - please note that the life of a note depends on its denomination:

    $122 months
    $524 months
    $1018 months
    $2025 months
    $5055 months
    $10060 months

  16. Why are United States paper currency notes printed using green ink?
    When the small currency notes in use today were first introduced in 1929, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) continued using green ink. There were three reasons for this decision. First, pigment of that color was readily available in large quantity. Second, the color was high in its resistance to chemical and physical changes. Finally, the public psychologically identified the color green with the strong and stable credit of the Government. There is no definite reason green was chosen originally for U.S. currency notes. The BEP has researched this question and found some evidence to support the following explanation. It appears that the growing popularity of bank notes and the development of photography in the mid-1800s forced currency production changes. It was customary to print the currency notes in black combined with colored tints as a deterrent to counterfeiting. Early cameras saw everything in black and features that were distinguishable on a note by color variant lost their individuality when reproduced photographically. However, counterfeiters soon discovered that it was easy to remove the colored inks used then from a note without disturbing the black ink. In other words, a counterfeiter could erase the colored portion, photograph the black ink, and then make the desired number of copies. They then would overprint the copies with an imitation of the colored ink. The solution to this problem was in the development of ink that counterfeiters could not erase without adversely affecting the black coloring. After the development of such an ink product, Tracy R. Edson purchased the patent rights. He was a co-founder of the American Bank Note Company. This was one firm that produced the first paper money issued by the United States. The companies printed the faces of these and other early notes under contract with a green tint, presumably of the protective ink. When printing with oil-base inks, such as the "patent green," it is not unusual for the color to strike through to the opposite side of a sheet. It is possible that they used a darker shade of the ordinary green for the backs of the early currency notes to make the tine "strike through" less obvious. The transition of printing money exclusively at the BEP was gradual. They probably printed the backs of the notes during the transition period in green simply to make all the currency a uniform color. Once the BEP was on full-scale production, there was no reason to change the traditional color and this practice remains to this day.

  17. What is the origin of the $ sign?
    The origin of the "$" sign has been variously accounted for. Perhaps the most widely accepted explanation is that it is the result of the evolution of the Mexican or Spanish "P's" for pesos, or piastres, or pieces of eight. This theory, derived from a study of old manuscripts, explains that the "S," gradually came to be written over the "P," developing a close equivalent to the"$" mark. It was widely used before the adoption of the United States dollar in 1785.

  18. Why is the word "buck" used for the dollar?
    Buck is a slang word for dollar. Probably, a development of the earlier sense of a deepskin used as a unit of exchange, especially among native Americans and frontiersmen; hense a special use of BUCK male deer. (From "The Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology")

U.S. Coins

  1. What is the correct term for a one-cent coin?
    The proper term is "one cent piece," but in common usage this coins is often referred to as a penny or cent. Many times, even the Treasury Department and the United States Mint use the term penny because that is what is normally referred to in general use by the public.

  2. Are there any plans to remove the one-cent coin (more popularly known as the "penny") from circulation?
    You may be interested to know that the penny is the most widely used denomination currently in circulation and it remains profitable to make. Significantly, it is Congress that determines the denominations of coins that the Mint must produce and put into circulation. Each penny costs .81 of a cent to make, but the United States Mint collects one cent for it. The profit goes to help fund the operation of the United States Mint and to help pay the public debt. In 2000, this profit added up to about $24 million. As the United States Mint produces the coins that Congress mandates, it does not have the authority to abolish a unit of currency. If directed to do so by legislation enacted by the Congress and signed by the President, the Treasury Department would again study phasing out the penny. Because the demand exists and the Federal Reserve Banks require inventories to meet the demand, the United States Mint is committed to producing the penny.

  3. Why is the five-cent coin (the nickel) larger than the ten-cent coin (the dime)? What determines the sizes of U.S. coins?
    Today, the sizes of United States coins can help you to tell them apart quickly, but have nothing to do with their values. Metal prices constantly fluctuate, so the values of circulating coins aren’t tied to metallic content. But back in 1793, when the first U.S. coins were produced, the United States Mint linked the sizes of coins to a particular metal standard—the silver dollar. Except for the copper penny, all coins were produced in proportionate metallic content to the dollar, and their sizes were regulated accordingly. The fifty-cent coin contained one-half as much silver as the dollar, the quarter had one-fourth as much, and the dime or ten-cent coin had one-tenth as much. The five-cent coin, or half-dime as it was called then, had only one-twentieth the silver. But it was so small that it was difficult for people to handle. So in 1866, United States Mint officials decided to make it larger by changing its content from silver and copper to a combination of copper and nickel—and the modern nickel was born.

  4. What denominations of coins are no longer being produced?
    There are quite a few denominations of coins that the United States Mint does not produce any longer for general circulation. They are the half-cent coin, the two-cent coin, the three-cent coin, the half-dime coin (although it was replaced by the five-cent coin), a twenty-cent coins, and the various denominations of gold coins. Although the Mint does produce a series of gold bullion coins, these are not intended for circulation.

  5. What portraits are shown on circulating U.S. coins?
    One-Cent coin: Abraham Lincoln
    Nickel: Thomas Jefferson
    Dime: Franklin D. Roosevelt
    Quarter: George Washington
    Half-Dollar: John F. Kennedy
    Dollar: Sacagawea

  6. Why are the values of United States coins shown in words and not numbers?
    We do not have any information available about why the United States has followed the general custom of displaying coin values in words instead of numbers. The United States Mint used numerical descriptions of the value on our coins from time to time since the establishment of our coinage system in 1792. However, this has been the exception and not the rule.

  7. How many coins does the United States Mint produce and where are they made?
    In 2000, the U.S. Mint produced approximately 28 billion coins for general circulation. These are made in the Mint facilities in Philadelphia, PA and Denver, CO. While most of the coins the Mint produces are for general circulation, the Mint also produces bullion coins and limited editions of coins sold to collectors as numismatic items. The Mint facilities in Philadelphia, PA; Denver, CO; San Francisco, CA; and West Point, NY produce numismatic items. Bullion coins are produced at the Mint facilities in San Francisco, CA and West Point, NY.

Population

  1. What is the minimum wage in the U.S. now and in 1990?
    The federal minimum wage for covered, nonexempt employees is $5.15 per hour. The federal minimum wage provisions are contained in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Many states also have minimum wage laws . In cases where an employee is subject to both the state and federal minimum wage laws, the employee is entitled to the higher of the two minimum wages. It was $3.80 in 1990, for information on History of Federal Minimum Wage Rates see History of Federal Minimum Wage Rates Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 1938 - 1996.



































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