Criminal and civil laws at a glance
Canadian criminal and civil laws govern the reproduction of bank note images:
- There are Criminal Code offences relating to currency and counterfeiting, including reproducing anything that looks like a current bank note.
- The Bank of Canada is the registered copyright owner of all design elements of Canadian bank notes. Making bank note images that infringe the Bank’s copyright is an offence under the Copyright Act. The Bank may also be entitled to civil remedies for infringement of its copyright.
Advertisers, publishers and other commercial users must obtain the Bank’s written permission to reproduce images of Canadian bank notes.
The Bank recognizes that currency is an important symbol of value and that there are plenty of legitimate reasons for wanting to show images of Canadian bank notes. We will usually consent to reproductions, provided:
- There is no risk that the reproduced image could be mistaken for a genuine bank note or misused by counterfeiters.
- The image does not tarnish the dignity and importance of currency to Canadians.
Conditions of use
- Physical reproductions are printed images of bank notes—for example: images for books, handouts, lottery tickets.
- Digital reproductions are images of bank notes that appear on screen only—for example: images in web ads, social media posts, television commercials.
We strongly recommend that images of current polymer notes be used in commercial applications.
1. Physical reproductions cannot be double-sided if in colour
In other words:
- Colour reproductions must be single-sided.
- Double-sided reproductions must be in black and white.
2. Physical reproductions cannot be the same size as genuine bank notes
Physical reproductions must be either smaller or larger than genuine bank notes (actual size: 152.4 x 69.85 mm or 6.0 x 2.75 in).
- Smaller reproductions must be less than three-quarters the size of genuine notes (no bigger than 114.3 x 52.39 mm or 4.5 x 2.063 in).
- Larger reproductions must be more than one and a half times the size of genuine notes (no smaller than 228.6 x 104.78 mm or 9.0 x 4.125 in).
3. All reproductions showing more than half of a flat bank note must include the word “SPECIMEN”
The word SPECIMEN must be overprinted on the image when:
- A reproduction shows more than half of the total area of one side of a note, and
- the note is flat to the camera or naked eye (that is, not curled or folded, partially obstructed or blurred, or on a slant).
The word SPECIMEN must be printed at no more than 50 per cent transparency:
- on the diagonal through the centre of the image and covering at least two-thirds the width of the reproduction, and
- in a bold font in a colour contrasting the dominant colour of the note.
The word SPECIMEN does not need to be used if reproductions show less than half of the total area of one side of a note, or if the note is curled or folded, partially obstructed or blurred, or on a slant.
4. All reproductions must be respectful
Reproductions cannot be shown in a way the Bank deems, at its sole discretion, to be inappropriate or offensive. The nature and context should be carefully considered before seeking the Bank’s permission.
5. All reproductions must feature unaltered portraits
Bank note portraits cannot be altered or distorted, apart from making them smaller or larger in proportion with the note or showing them curled or on a slant.
The Bank will not approve image reproduction requests it determines could be mistaken for genuine bank notes or misused by counterfeiters, and/or that tarnish the dignity and importance of currency to Canadians. This includes:
- Coupons or vouchers bearing any likeness to a Canadian bank note (see subsection 457(1) of the Criminal Code). For example, a bank note image made to look like a business card, discount coupon, ticket or other promotional item.
- Novelty notes that in any way look like a Canadian bank note. For example, reproductions that incorporate unique text or where the portrait has been replaced with the face of another person.
Do you need an image for a school project about Canadian currency or for a blog post? For non-commercial uses of this nature, we provide a gallery of images that can be reproduced without obtaining the Bank’s permission. The following conditions must be respected:
- The images are reproduced accurately and without alterations.
- The Bank is identified as the source (cite “Source: Bank of Canada”).
- You do not imply that your use of the images is done in affiliation with, or with the endorsement of, the Bank of Canada.