Features for the Blind and Partially Sighted

Three key elements in the polymer notes are designed to help blind and partially-sighted Canadians recognize bank note denominations by touch (tactile feature), sight (large numerals) or electronic signal (bank note reader). These are the same accessibility features used for the Canadian Journey series, but the tactile feature lasts longer, and the bank note reader works on both ends of the polymer notes.

Note: The commemorative $10 note issued in June 2017 to mark the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation, and the $20 note issued in September 2015 to honour the historic reign of Queen Elizabeth II have the same suite of accessibility features as all other polymer notes.

These elements are not security features and should not be used to verify that bank notes are genuine.

See also: Making Bank Notes Accessible for Canadians Living with Blindness or Low Vision, Bank of Canada Review Article - Winter 2009-2010


Aside from the fact that polymer notes are smoother and lighter than paper notes, a notable change is the position of the tactile feature. It’s located in the top left corner of the Frontiers series notes, and the top right corner of the Canadian Journey series notes.

The tactile feature consists of symbols of six raised dots (two columns of three) separated by a smooth surface. This system is not Braille. It was developed in consultation with blind and partially-sighted Canadians after research indicated that not all users read Braille.

The number and position of these six-dot symbols vary according to the denomination:

  • $5: one six-dot symbol
  • $10: two six-dot symbols
  • $20: three six-dot symbols
  • $50: four six-dot symbols
  • $100: two symbols separated by a smooth surface that is wider than that on the $10 note


Large high-contrast numerals identifying the note's denomination appear on both sides of each note. A dark numeral on a pale background appears on the front, and a white numeral against a dark background appears on the back. The distinct colours used for each denomination also assist the partially sighted to recognize their bank notes. The colours used for each denomination are consistent with those used for previous series.

Electronic Signal

The bank note reader works with both paper and polymer bank notes. The polymer notes are machine readable from both short edges of the note, while Canadian Journey paper notes can be read only on the left edge (when the side with the large portrait is facing up).

Polymer notes feel different from paper notes, but are just as simple to use. Here’s a tip: place two fingers on a polymer note as you slide it into the bank note reader.

Bank Note Accessibility: Tips for Identifying and Storing Canadian Bank Notes

Learn how to identify Canada's new accessible polymer bank notes, discover the Canadian bank note reader and get tips for storing Canada's paper bank notes for easy identification. These videos were produced jointly by CNIB and the Bank of Canada.

  1. Materials to Download and/or Order

  2. Accessibility features

  3. There are several products that explain how blind and partially-sighted Canadians can determine the denominations of bank notes.
  4. Accessible PDF
  5. Accessible leaflet in large print

    You can also call our toll-free line to hear a recording at 1.800.303.1282.
  6. Accessibility leaflet in contracted Braille
  7. Accessibility leaflet in uncontracted Braille
Mailing address
Contact information

Privacy notice

Personal information collected by the Bank of Canada is protected under the Privacy Act. The information you provide is used to respond to your inquiry. For further information about the Bank of Canada’s privacy practices, please consult the Bank’s General Privacy Policy.