Is it illegal to write on money?

According to US law, it is not illegal to write on dollar bills. It is illegal to mutilate or write on them if the notes are unfit for reuse. For example, you cannot write two zeros on a 1 dollar bill to make it a 100-dollar bill. A change in denomination is strictly prohibited.

Is it illegal to write on money?


In general, it is not illegal, but in particular cases, it is unlawful, like:

  • The writing on dollar bills makes them unusable.
  • Burning or mutilating the dollar bill will render it unfit for circulation.
  • Advertisement on dollar bills is also illegal. If you are a pizza shop owner, you cannot write “Eat in Pizza corner shop” in the currency.

Dollar bill owners consider it appropriate to write on dollar bills as they own it. Some may even go to the extent of tearing the bill note to show protest against the government. Tile 18, section 333 of federal law states that dollar bill owners have no right to deface or degrade dollar bills. 

A money instrument is for circulation, and if no one owns it, no money will circulate. Even though you have earned it, you don’t own them. If a bank says it doesn’t accept torn notes, the Federal Reserve instructs it to take them.

The legal status of writing on the money

The punishment for cutting, deforming, or cementing a dollar bill is six months in prison or a fine. It also states that if anyone mutilates Federal bank evidence of debt will be imprisoned for six months or fined. If a person uses dollar bills to advertise his business, he shall be fined.

When writing on money is permitted?

A counterfeit detector pen is used to detect counterfeit bills. It determines the genuineness of the material used to print dollar bills. Counterfeit detector pen has an iodine solution that detects starch in the money. Since the US money doesn’t have starch content, it will not react.

The impact of writing on money 

Writing on money can make the money move slowly as the receiver does not accept it as they fear of the currency getting stuck with them, which can become useless if no one accepts it. Circulation of that particular currency note may come to an end and may have to return it to the bank for the exchange for a new note.

Even after the currency is returned, the bank cannot distribute it to other entities. It has to be sent back to printing and a new currency has to be printed instead of the old note.

Does writing on money make it illegal in the UK?

According to the Currency and bank notes act of 1928, defacing currency notes attracts punishment. If a currency is barely recognizable, it is unfit for circulation and hence is a punishable offence. Otherwise, there is no fuss in using the banknotes if there is a simple mark or writing on it.

Frequently Asked Questions: 


#1 Does writing on currency notes make them invalid? 

No. It doesn’t make it invalid unless it is not reusable.

#2 What happens if a dollar bill is mutilated? 

Mutilated currency is not valid if not fit for circulation. The federal government removes all money unfit for circulation.

#3 What happens if I write on money?

If anything is written on a currency note then the money shall not be accepted anywhere though it is not illegal to write on money notes. It will be taken out of circulation by the bank.

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Marking a dollar bill doesn’t make it invalid. Defacing the money to render it unfit for circulation is punishable. Usually, people reject damaged notes due to scribbling. At the same time, if you scribble to change the denomination of the notes, it is punishable. Shredding, burning the money making it invalid is a punishable offence. These activities will attract punishment of six months imprisonment or fine.

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