Mutilated Currency 101

How to Get Mutilated Money Replaced

Mutilated Currency 101
August 7, 2015

We’ve all heard the excuse, “My dog ate my homework,” but what if the dog ate your $100 bill? If Fido only ate part of it, you could get all of it back courtesy of the Uncle Sam. The U.S. Treasury examines over 30,000 claims of mutilated currency every year. From those thirty thousand claims, they redeem over $30 million of mutilated currency.

What can be considered redeemable mutilated currency?

According to the U.S. Mint, a coin is considered mutilated if it is "bent, broken, corroded, not whole, melted together and not machine countable". When it comes to bills, however, things get a bit more complicated.

If you have a note that is missing more than one-half of the original note, or if the value of the note is unclear without special examination, you may have mutilated currency. Additionally, if currency has become spoiled through fire, water, chemical, explosive, animal, insect or rodent damage, it may be mutilated.

Money can also be mutilated by being buried or through petrification. Petrification occurs when a note deteriorates to such an extent that its organic matter has slowly been replaced by dissolved minerals and it is literally on its way to becoming a fossil! To be considered mutilated in these cases, either more than 50% of a note must be identifiable as U.S. currency, or less than 50% of a note may be identifiable as U.S. currency if the method of mutilation and supporting evidence demonstrate (according to the U.S. Treasury) that the missing portions have been totally destroyed. Otherwise, you could be hiding the missing pieces away at home to exchange at the bank in an attempt to double your money.

What does not count? Any damaged currency where more than one-half of the original note is clearly present, and it does not require special examination to determine its value, cannot be redeemed as mutilated currency. If you have a note like this, your local bank should be able to give you a new bill.

How can I redeem my mutilated money?

If your cat has been sharpening its claws on your purse or your dog has been using your wallet as a new chew toy, all may not yet be lost. Likewise, if you find remnants of currency in your vacuum cleaner's dust bag after cleaning your teenager's room, it could turn out to be a windfall, as it is possible to redeem mutilated money. Any mutilated coins should be submitted to the U.S. Mint for evaluation at the following address:

United States Mint
ATTN: Mutilated Coin Redemption Section
P.O. Box 400 for Post Office shipments only
151 N. Independence Mall East
Philadelphia, PA 19106

All mutilated notes must be sent to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, a division of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, where it will be meticulously examined. In addition to your claim, you should include an estimate of the currency's value and an account of how it became damaged.

Due to the often-fragile nature of mutilated currency, it is important to take care when preparing your parcel for submission. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing recommends that you minimize your contact with fragments of mutilated currency to ensure preservation. Wrap the currency carefully in plastic and cotton before sealing it in a secure container. If the note was rolled up when mutilated, do not straighten it out. Similarly do not fold currency that you found flat. If you found mutilated notes inside a container, such as a wallet or a box, you should leave them there to reduce any risk of further deterioration. If you have already removed the pieces from the container, send the whole package to the Bureau, including anything else that was in the wallet.

Once you have taken these steps to preserve your mutilated currency, you can send it to:

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

It is in your best interest to insure the parcel and send it by registered mail. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing will only issue a written confirmation of receipt if the evaluation is expected to last more than four weeks. For added peace of mind, you could deliver your mutilated currency personally if you don't mind travelling to Washington, D.C. The Office of Currency Standards accepts deliveries from 8am to 2pm every weekday (apart from holidays of course). You can find them at 14th and C Streets, S. W.

Once your parcel has been delivered, you can check the status of your claim by emailing MCDSTATUS@bep.gov or calling the toll-free line: (866) 575-2361.

Considering the effort involved, we recommend you rethink submitting a mutilated currency claim for a mere one or two dollars, as the cost may far outweigh the benefit. On the other hand, if you think your fragments are worth a few hundred or thousand dollars, send it in and hope for the best. If your pet has been chewing on coins as well as bills, a visit to the vet may be in order!


Photo ©iStock.com/belterz

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Angie | 08.11.15 @ 14:12
Does this department then replace the value if it is determined to be legitimate? By issuing a check? Is there a fee?
Meredith | 08.11.15 @ 17:06
I've been able to exchange damaged bills at the bank but never sent out anything to the Treasury Dept. I will definitely keep this in mind if I happen upon "ruined" money.
Martin | 08.12.15 @ 01:21
This is amusing and interesting and good information to have in the back of my mind. I hope, however, that I will continue my lifelong streak of never needing to know how to replace mutilated money.
Sarah | 08.12.15 @ 12:31
After reading this I am wondering what the Alaska State Troopers were doing when they were washing all that money that they found in a house fire. They estimated that it was like $20K in burned money and they were washing it for the family to help them preserve as much of it as possible. Apparently, they did wrong. Oh well, hope it turned out okay for the family....
Rabia | 08.12.15 @ 14:05
I wondered if a bank would exchange it, but I see that Meredith has done it successfully. That's good to hear!
Angie | 08.12.15 @ 14:17
I do see in the article that your bank can handle it if it's obviously more than half the bill, but I don't think they could handle anything other than that.
Meredith L | 08.12.15 @ 16:09
When I was working in retail I would receive a lot of damaged bills. Many times you only need to go to the bank to exchange the bill. One time I had a bill that looked like it was covered in rust. It might have qualified as mutilated but I took it to the bank because they could see its value. I got a new bill, they get to worry about sending it to the Treasury.
Crystal | 08.12.15 @ 19:10
Thankfully I've never had money torn apart in any way - just ripped and I've taped and moved on. Great article!
Sarah | 08.12.15 @ 20:44
You know, I've thought about this for a while now and I finally remembered a time where I actually had a really damaged bill. I was cutting up some things to throw them away and in one of the pockets of a folder was a $1 bill. I cut one entire corner off of it. I just used some clear tape and then spent it. No harm, no foul?
Kamie | 08.12.15 @ 21:56
I am lucky enough to have a bank that does all that stuff for me. I had a destroyed bill from it being in a pants pocket with bleach then dried on high heat, and the bank gladly exchanged my $20 bill for me without any questions asked.
Apryl | 08.12.15 @ 23:45
Learn something new every day!
Daniel Dohlstrom | 08.13.15 @ 20:28
I just recently saw this talked about and demonstrated on TV and found it very interesting about sending it back to the treasury and get a check from them . Have not needed it so far and hope I don't any time soon
Donnie | 08.13.15 @ 22:36
Had no idea we could do that. I knew banks would change out currency.
Steffanie | 08.13.15 @ 22:48
Good article and there is some great information in here to keep in mind! Thanks for the read.
Sara | 08.13.15 @ 22:49
All the banks here will not take ruined money.... though a store would take it
Kaila | 08.14.15 @ 01:02
I have exchanged at a bank never this way, I have also taped torn bills and spent them with little issue, but this is good to know if I ever need to do it.
Heather | 08.14.15 @ 02:43
When I worked at a bank we had to do this a lot.
Nancy | 08.14.15 @ 02:51
The article states that the costs could outweigh the benefits. What are the costs?
Ron | 08.14.15 @ 15:22
I have had banks take ripped and taped bills with matching serial numbers, but that is as much I have ever done. Though, I did get a bent quarter taken at a Coinstar machine. Once.
Casey | 08.14.15 @ 16:05
I've always taken damaged bills to the bank and once in school we sent a batch of bills to the Treasury department.
Beverly | 08.14.15 @ 16:34
Interesting, I knew you could take in damages bills to the bank to get new ones, but didn't know about the process for mutilated bills. It does seem like a lot work for just a couple of bucks, but maybe if you have a few mutilated 50's or 100's it may be worth it. Although if you have 50's/100's laying around to get mutilated by the cat or sucked up by the vacuum then I think you might have a bigger problem than getting them replaced.
Elaine | 08.14.15 @ 16:48
Thankfully I have never had to deal with this issue. However I am glad that they have in place a way to exchange those bills. I personally would have never know this was an option if it wasn't for this article. I would have tried the bank fort though.
Irene | 08.14.15 @ 17:42
I had no idea there was any place to send mutilated money. I have had bills that were so thin and ripped and barely held together with scotch tape
Irene | 08.14.15 @ 17:42
I had no idea any such place existed to send mutilated money!
Erin | 08.14.15 @ 17:43
Wow, great information. Thanks!
Alec | 08.14.15 @ 17:58
The most damage I've caused to a bill was putting it through the washer and dryer. I didn't know you could exchange bills if they were damaged though so this was a good read and I liked learning the specifics about whether I should try at a bank or the other place.
Zanna | 08.14.15 @ 18:04
I have to agree with others, I would start with the bank before trying to send to the Office of Currency. Of course if I find a stash of petrified, mutilated cash it's nice to know there's a way it might be recovered!
Irene | 08.14.15 @ 19:29
great article, If only I had known there was such a thing as a claim for mutilated money.
Charles Berg | 08.14.15 @ 20:52
Fun article. Not something a lot of people probably have a need for. And if they did it probably wouldn't be worth the time. But a fun article nonetheless.
Andrea | 08.14.15 @ 21:08
I could have used this info when I was a cab driver and a passenger who'd had too much to drink tore the 20 dollar bill he used to pay his fare in half.
Chelsey | 08.15.15 @ 00:43
I never knew about getting money replaced. I have taped bills back together and then spent them. Now I know there is a way to get it replaced!
gracie | 08.15.15 @ 21:21
Good to know. Luckily I guess for me that I have never had any mutilated money. As a kid I recall a conversation with friends about what happens if money gets ripped in 1/2 and an adult piping in that you go to jail. I guess it made an impression because I have always been very careful not to ruin any money and find out.
Katie Greene | 08.15.15 @ 22:32
I had my daughter cut up a dollar or two. This is good info for any parent to have!
Carla Truett | 08.16.15 @ 01:02
Until I read this article, I thought only a bank could replace damaged money. Thanks for the info!
Connie | 08.16.15 @ 12:14
Great information to share with friends!
trish | 08.16.15 @ 21:41
Never knew this was an option! While I have never had a dog eat my money, I have had money rip into pieces when I was a server. Wish I knew this then!!!
Leah | 08.17.15 @ 00:56
Good to know! . I always just took it into the bank. They usually replaced it for me.
Jo | 08.17.15 @ 02:05
Interesting idea, though I have found it's just as easy to take it to our bank and exchange it.
Christina | 08.17.15 @ 16:34
Great information - never knew this was possible!
Bobbie | 08.17.15 @ 20:24
Glad my dog only ate a dollar bill one time, but glad to know it can be replaced.
Chelsey | 08.17.15 @ 20:47
My kids have torn money before, I just tape it and move on, but it's nice to know that there are other ways to get it replaced.
Victor | 08.17.15 @ 21:11
Great Article
Jane | 08.17.15 @ 21:12
This is good to know. I did not know mutilated currency could be replaced.
Andrea | 08.17.15 @ 22:25
I seriously never knew that this existed. Where have I been?.
Stokes | 08.17.15 @ 23:30
I've never had money that couldn't be repaired by tape.
Jackie | 08.17.15 @ 23:35
Great information. I hope I never need to replace mutilated money.
Wanda Langley | 08.17.15 @ 23:49
I have did an exchange with my bank but I have not sent anything to the Treasury Department.
Joanne grant | 08.18.15 @ 01:32
This was a helpful article, in college I was a server and often got tips that were missing corners etc.
Merinda | 08.18.15 @ 03:14
I've never personally had to deal with mutilated money of my own but I have seen it before. I couldn't imagine. Such a bummer, even if it was only $1. money is money!
Courtney | 08.18.15 @ 04:05
This is really interesting! Hopefully I won't have to do this in the future!
Victor | 08.18.15 @ 13:52
i think this is a great article with a very good insight, so we won't lose that money
Bobbie | 08.18.15 @ 15:22
Thankfully the only time my kids have mutilated currency is when they swallowed a penny.
Donnie | 08.18.15 @ 19:54
Can you just go to the bank and get a replacement?
Crystal | 08.18.15 @ 20:38
I will definitely remember this one!
Christina | 08.19.15 @ 13:17
Good information... I also have taken damaged bills to the bank ,and they replaced them.
Crystal | 08.19.15 @ 13:21
I always change the damaged bills at the bank. It has always worked there.
Vaughn | 08.19.15 @ 16:21
I've never personally had to deal with mutilated money of my own but I have seen it before. I couldn't imagine. Such a bummer, even if it was only $1. Money is money!
Joanne grant | 08.19.15 @ 20:19
Thanks for the info
Rindy | 08.20.15 @ 16:29
While I find this interesting, I rarely hang on to my money long enough for it to become mutilated. However we did have a mishap with savings bonds once and the total amount was reimbursed to us. I have exchanged ripped bills at the bank in previous years though.
Sierra | 08.23.15 @ 11:03
Nice article, I had no idea you could exchange ruined money. I will have to remember that!
Blake | 08.24.15 @ 15:55
This is good information to have in case my dog or daughter get a hold of my cash
Rychana Vingia | 08.25.15 @ 01:39
I use to work at a bank and people could turn mutilated money in there then we would send it in to Department of Treasury.
Jo Ann | 08.25.15 @ 12:21
Very interesting, I always wondered what would happen if my money got torn up for some reason. I just wish i would find a wall in an old house that had money stuffed in it. At least now i would know what to do with it.
Jo Ann | 08.26.15 @ 21:29
This is great information just for general knowledge. Especially when the kids or grandkids get in your purse, and make confetti out of your cash.
Debbie | 08.27.15 @ 04:25
I dont have excess extra money to let it be ruined so have never had this problem. I know where my cash is at all times.
Debbie | 08.27.15 @ 04:40
I have washed money many times, lay it flat to dry and it usually is just fine. have never mutilated cash.
Carla Truett | 08.28.15 @ 14:56
This makes me wonder just how much money has been thrown in the trash because people didn't know it could be replaced.
Steven | 09.03.15 @ 18:48
Funny our bank would not take a damaged bill. I would have to mail it in. Not worth it for the smaller bills.
Kyle | 09.03.15 @ 19:13
I've been able to take any damaged bills that I've had to my local bank, whether it's USD or Euro.
Jennifer Sears | 09.03.15 @ 21:02
If the money is badly damaged, I usually take it to a bank. With slight rips or what not I've never had an issue getting accepted by stores.
Leslie | 09.03.15 @ 21:12
When my house burned down we had some cash that was really badly burnt. Luckily we were good friends with one of the tellers at our bank and she gave us fresh bills for them. We went back a week later and she said it took 3 days to get the smoke smell out of her drawer. =)
Kathryn | 09.03.15 @ 21:16
I have never had this issue with getting crisper bills.
Anna | 09.04.15 @ 00:14
It's good to know what to do with money if it is mutilated. This article was very helpful.
Ambar | 09.04.15 @ 01:14
Thanks for the info. Great article!
George Middleton | 09.04.15 @ 02:27
I have always taken the money to the bank and they replaced it.
Jill | 09.04.15 @ 04:47
My bank takes care of this for me.
Katie | 09.04.15 @ 10:49
Interesting. Good to know I can have my money replaced!
Jonathan | 09.05.15 @ 01:17
Didn't realize that it was that complicated.
Clarissa | 09.07.15 @ 14:17
I've never had damaged currency but several of my friends have. If you go to the bank will they replace it? And if so, do they keep track of how many times someone replaces damaged currency?
$commenter.renderDisplayableName() | 12.11.16 @ 14:26
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