How to identify Fake Kenyan currency

  • Published:

A genuine Kenyan bank note looks like this....

A Kenyan 100 shillings note play A Kenyan 100 shillings note (Pinterest)

Fake Kenyan currency could land you in serious trouble with the authorities if you are found culpable. Fake Kenyan currency could earn you a jail-term of seven years.

According to the Kenya Police counterfeit bank notes are the most common form of fraud in Kenya. Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) released a nationwide survey showing that mobile money agents, largely MPesa agents, had 24,562 cases of counterfeit notes, which is 97 per cent of the fraud cases they face.

The survey points out that bank agents reported 1,297 cases of fraud out of which 75 per cent involved counterfeit notes.

According to the six-month survey conducted in 2015, CBK captured 27,196 cases of fraud.

However the Bank regulator in its report said that the number of fake notes in Kenya had declined from 139 to 120 from June 30, 2015 to June 30, 2016.

Here are some of the best ways to identify fake notes according to the Central Bank of Kenya.

  1. Portrait watermark

When you hold the note up against the light you will see a three dimensional head of a lion. The watermark’s appearance has areas that vary in tones of dark and light. Just below the note is the numeric value of the banknote. You can see this number when you hold the note against light.

According to Central Bank of Kenya, both the portrait and the value numeral depict some brightness when held against the light.

play (Bizna Kenya)


2. Serial Numbers

The serial numbers of a genuine note are asymmetrically arranged and has progressively larger digits in adjacent positions. Genuine currency has two sets of serial numbers. One appears horizontally while the other one appears vertically.

The vertically arranged serial numbers on the left hand side of the note glow when held against UV Light.

3. See through feature

Each genuine bank note has a see through feature when held against the light. The see through feature forms a complete elephant if exposed to the light. When you look at the feature from one side the image will not form any recognizable feature. Therefore you have to use the light to observe the elephant.

play (Bizna Kenya)


4. Security thread

Genuine bank notes have a unique interwoven thread that runs vertically on the right hand side of the note. That thread appears as a continuous line containing a series of text featuring the denomination numeral of the note and the letters CBK.

The current generation of genuine currency banknotes contain two types of threads:

The thread is thicker and portrays a color shift when viewed from different angles in the 1000 and 500 shillings denominations.

The thread is thinner and does not depict any color shift when viewed at different angles in the 50, 100 and 200 shillings denominations.

play (Bizna Kenya)


5. Size

All denominations of Kenyan banknotes come in different sizes. The value of the note determines its ultimate size. Size of the note increases with value. The 50 shillings denomination is the smallest while the 1000 shillings note is the biggest.

Here are the sizes of the notes:

a) Kshs. 50

-Size: 138mm x 72mm

-Color: Brown and Green

-Theme: Mombasa Tusks and Nomads with Camels

b) Kshs. 100

-Size: 141mm x 74mm

-Colour: Purple

-Theme: Kenyatta International Conference Center and the Statue of Kenya’s founding President

c) Kshs. 200

-Size: 144mm x 76mm

-Colour: Brown Green

-Theme: Cotton picking

d) Kshs. 500

-Size: 147MMx 78mm

-Colour: Multi Colour Black Red and Green

-Theme: Kenya’s National Assembly

e) Kshs. 1000

-Size: 150mm x 80mm

6. Kenyatta’s rough coat

The coat of the Jomo Kenyatta in the genuine bank notes should have a tactile feeling when touched.

play (Bizna Kenya)


According to the  CBK, "Members of the general public who find damaged currency can also bring it to commercial banks or to the Central Bank offices and have it replaced, on condition that the following requirements are met:

  1. They have not been deliberately mutilated
  2. The currency must be genuine
  3. The currency must be more than half and continuous
  4. The banknote should bear at least one complete serial number."
Subscribe to the Pulselive Newsletter!
Do you ever witness news or have a story that should be featured on Pulse Live Kenya?
Submit your stories, pictures and videos to us now via WhatsApp: +254708994405, Social Media @pulselivekenya: #PulseLiveEyewitness & DM or Email:

Top 3

1 Job Title These are the best paying jobs in Kenyabullet
2 Financial Prudence 3 types of savings everyone needs to start...bullet
3 Career advice 5 ways to get ahead at your workplacebullet