How to Replace Mutilated US Currency

Is the Bill 'Mutilated' or Not?

Torn twenty dollar bill, repaired with tape
Jeffrey Coolidge / The Image Bank / Getty Images

Every year the United States Treasury redeems over $30 million worth of damaged and mutilated paper money — currency. Here is how to get damaged or mutilated U.S. money replaced.

The correct procedure for replacing US currency depends on how and how badly the money has been damaged.

According to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP), U.S. currency that has been damaged, but not mutilated, can usually be redeemed at a bank, while truly mutilated bills require special handling.

What is Damaged, but Not Mutilated Money?

Damaged but not mutilated currency includes any bill that is CLEARLY more than one-half of the original bill and does not require any special examination or investigation to determine its value. Examples of non-mutilated bills include those that are badly soiled, dirty, defaced, disintegrated, limp, torn or otherwise "worn out."

These damaged-but-not-mutilated bills can be exchanged through your local bank.

Replacing Mutilated Currency

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing considers mutilated money to be less than about 51% of the original bill or any bill so badly damaged that its value cannot be determined without special handling and examination. Mutilated currency has most often been damaged by fire, flooding, chemicals, explosions, animals or insects. Another very common source of damage to currency is fossilization or deterioration from being directly buried in soil for long periods of time.

The BEP redeems mutilated currency as a free public service. Mutilated currency must be mailed or personally delivered to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Here, according to the U.S. Treasury is how to do it:

When mutilated currency is submitted, a letter should be included stating the estimated value of the currency and an explanation of how the currency became mutilated.

Each case is carefully examined by an experienced mutilated currency examiner. The amount of time needed to process each case varies with its complexity and the case workload of the examiner. However, the BEP warns that heavy volume and the precise nature of the work may result in longer wait times.

The Director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing has the final authority for the settlement of mutilated currency claims.

Although Treasury examiners are usually able to determine the amount and value of the mutilated currency, carefully packaging the currency is essential to prevent additional damage.

In general, the BEP will replace mutilated currency if:

  • More than 50% of a bill that can be identified as United States currency is present, along with sufficient remnants of any relevant security features; or,
  • Less than 50% of a bill identifiable as United States currency is present and the method of mutilation and supporting evidence demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Treasury that the missing portions have been totally destroyed.

Every year, the Treasury Department handles approximately 30,000 claims and redeems mutilated currency valued at over $30 million.

Procedure for Mailing Mutilated Currency

The following procedures should be used when packing mutilated currency for examination and possible replacement by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing:

  • Regardless of the condition of the currency, do not disturb the fragments any more than is absolutely necessary.
  • If the currency is brittle or inclined to fall apart, pack it carefully in plastic and cotton without disturbing the fragments and place the package in a secure container.
  • If the currency was mutilated in a purse, box, or other container, it should be left in the container to protect the fragments from further damage.
  • If it is absolutely necessary to remove the fragments from the container, send the container along with the currency and any other contents that may have currency fragments attached.
  • If the currency was flat when mutilated, do not roll or fold the notes.
  • If the currency was rolled up when mutilated, do not attempt to unroll or straighten it out.

  • If coins or any other metal is mixed with the currency, carefully remove it. Any fused, melted, or otherwise mutilated coins should be sent to, Superintendent U. S. Mint, Post Office Box 400 Philadelphia, PA. 19105.

    Mailing Address for Mutilated Currency

    Mutilated currency, packed according to the above instructions, should be mailed to:

    Department of the Treasury
    Bureau of Engraving and Printing
    Office of Currency Standards
    P. O. Box 37048 Washington, D. C. 20013

    All mutilated currency should be sent by "Registered Mail, Return Receipt Requested." Purchasing postal insurance on the shipment is the responsibility of the sender.

    For cases that are expected to take longer than four weeks to process, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing will issue a written confirmation of receipt.

    To obtain information about your mutilated currency shipment, contact the Mutilated Currency Division at 1-866-575-2361 or 202-874-8897.

    Personal deliveries of mutilated currency to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing are accepted between the hours of 8:00 A.M. and 2:00 P.M., Monday through Friday, except holidays. The Office of Currency Standards is located at 14th and C Streets, S. W., Washington, D. C.

    What About Damaged Coins?

    The United States Mint will replace uncurrent (badly worn) coins with new coins of the same denomination and will redeem mutilated coins for their current scrap metal value.

    Uncurrent coins are whole coins but are worn or reduced in weight by natural abrasion. They are easily recognizable as to genuineness and denomination and are in such condition that coin sorting and counting machines will accept them. Undercut coins that are too badly worn to be redeemed by commercial banks may be redeemed only at Federal Reserve Banks and branches.

    Uncurrent coins are replaced with new coins of the same denomination by the Federal Reserve Banks and then forwarded to the United States Mint.

    Mutilated coins, on the other hand, are coins that are bent, broken, not whole, or fused or melted together.  

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    Your Citation
    Longley, Robert. "How to Replace Mutilated US Currency." ThoughtCo, Dec. 3, 2017, Longley, Robert. (2017, December 3). How to Replace Mutilated US Currency. Retrieved from Longley, Robert. "How to Replace Mutilated US Currency." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 22, 2018).