Using Pictures of Paper Money. Legally Using Illustrations of Paper Currency

by Jacci Howard Bear
Updated July 31, 2017

Incorporating images of paper money into the advertisement or brochure you are designing may sound like a real attention-grabber, but the U.S. Government requires that you adhere to certain specific regulations when using our currency as an illustration in marketing materials.
Using illustrations of actual paper currency in whole or in part within marketing materials is quite common. However, to keep on the right side of the law you must be familiar with the legal requirements for reproduction of paper currency.
Federal law doesn't ban reproducing images of U.S. currency, but it does restrict how you can legally display those reproductions. The reproductions must be done in such a way as to not be confused with actual paper currency.

Before you slap a $100 bill across that brochure you're designing, check the laws governing the use of currency images.
  • Reduce or Enlarge the Image - The image must be less than 75 percent the bill's actual length or more than 150 percent the of the currency's actual length. A dollar bill is 6.1 inches long, so it can only be used at 4.6 inches or smaller or at larger than one and a half times its actual size—at least 9.2 inches.
  • Print One-sided Only- The printed piece cannot use the currency as a double-sided image. It can only be one sided. You may show the front or the back but not both.
  • Destroy Creative Materials - Scans, digital files, negatives, plates, and any other materials used in creating the currency reproductions must be destroyed, deleted or erased after final use.

At one time, the currency image could only be used in black and white printing, but that law was relaxed to permit color printing in the 1990s.