The Canadian government’s discontinuing of certain old Canadian notes took a lot of people by surprise. To ensure you don’t miss out on money you’re entitled to, it’s handy to know where you can sell your old Canadian bills.
You can sell old Canadian bills to:
- Bank of Canada
- Local banks
- Private dealers
- Old note collectors
Most Canadians are not affected, because the notes in question are decades old and have not been in regular circulation for a long time. If, however, you have a few hanging around, it’s worth learning more about exchanging them, and where to do it.
The Discontinuation Of Canadian Bills Explained
In an effort to thwart counterfeiting of common currency, the Canadian government has removed the “legal tender” status of certain bills. The currency in question will no longer be honored as legitimate forms of payment for goods or services. If you own some, with the exception of some notes that are rare, the notes you have are worthless from a collecting point of view.
For as long as there has been currency, there have been people determined to reproduce it on their own, and governments have been determined to stop them. In the past, governments used an array of tools to help root out counterfeit coins. These included:
- Metal wedges that were fitted into the side of a coin
- Metal centerpieces
- Watermarks on paper currency
- A strip of plastic that is only visible under UV light
- Iodine pens to verify proper paper in currency
Newer currency possesses several counterfeiting measures that make it very difficult to produce your own Canadian currency. According to the Bank of Canada, the following approaches to thwart counterfeiting are used.
All bank notes have security features that make them very difficult to reproduce. Those include:
Single polymer design – Which makes the bill exceptionally smooth to the touch.
Raised ink – The word “Canada” is raised, along with the big number at the bottom of the bill.
Color shifts – Different imagery has shifting colors when the image is tilted. The best example of this is the eagle feather on the $10 bill. It shifts from a golden color to a greenish mixture when tilted.
Transparent window – A large transparent window is used with metallic images and symbols on the front of it.
3D art – Certain imagery is 3D. Using the $10 bill as an example again, the Maple Leaf image on the bill is 3D.
Transparent imagery – The Maple Leaf on newer Canadian notes is transparent. It also feels slightly raised on the front of the note.
Metallic symbols – These change color when the note is tilted. They are also visible in the same positions and color scheme when the note is flipped.
Abundant use of maple leaves – Considering the $10 bill, the following maple leaves are present:
- Through the smallest leaf above the portrait, you can see the gold to green color shift of the eagle’s feather on the back of the note
- The largest leaf above the portrait is also transparent
The government of Canada has been using all media sources to provide education to the public, businesses and the police regarding how to identify counterfeit notes. The older notes, because they lacked most security features, made it much more difficult to educate any of the above on what to look out for, except for the most obvious of flaws.
The Canadian government has launched an active program to remove damaged notes from circulation. This involves bank personnel and merchants monitoring the quality of the notes they process and setting damaged money aside. This achieves two things:
- Makes it easier to discover a counterfeit note because the features of the note are not obscured by use
- Makes it harder for counterfeiters to get by with shoddy work as newer notes must have pristine counter-counterfeiting measures
All the notes that are not discontinued as legal tender were at least 20 years old. Each had, at best, basic anti-counterfeiting measures. That made them easy to reproduce. Another problem was that because they were not in regular circulation, many people would not recognize a counterfeit if they saw one.
With $1 notes, which are generally worth more than just $1 because production was discontinued so long ago, a fake $1 note could easily be passed off to an unsuspecting person as an authentic $1 note. While dealers and most collectors would not be fooled, the average person likely would not be able to tell the difference.
The Canadian government decided to remove the notes most often associated with counterfeiting completely, which would leave only those notes that had up-to-date security measures in them left as legal tender. The other approach, which the government also adopted, was to take all older currency out of circulation as it was used as currency with banks.
Which Notes Are Affected?
The affected notes are largely any that lack the anti-counterfeiting features covered above. You should check, however, on the legal tender of any of the notes mentioned. You may be surprised at how much above face value some of them are worth.
Specifically, the following are some of the notes affected:
- $1 notes issued in 1989 or earlier – This was replaced by the Loonie
- $2 notes issued in 1996 or earlier – This was replaced by the Toonie
- Commemorative 1935 King George V $25 notes: These were issued to commemorate the King’s ascension to the throne.
- $500 note issued in 1935 or earlier
- $1000 notes issued before they were discontinued in 2000 – They were discontinued at the request of the Royal Mounted Police because the only groups that used them were crime syndicates)
Any other notes in your possession are worth at least the face value of the bill and are legal tender.
The totals for each type of bill are as follows:
- 150,230,000 $1 notes
- 103,036,000 $2 notes
- 632,019 $1,000 notes
- 1,840 $25 notes
- 40 $500 notes
These notes do not include any issued by the following:
- Dominion of Canada
- Individual provincial currency
- Chartered banks
Keeping Your Old Canadian Bills
Before we discuss where you can sell your old Canadian bills, it’s worth considering the option of not selling them at all. Because each one is fairly rare, there will likely be no decline in their price. A note worth $150 today might even be worth a lot more in 10 years.
The risk is that there might be a point where the Bank of Canada will no longer accept older notes or pay out at face value. That is countered, however, by the fact that your note is probably, at worst, worth a little more than face value now. Imagine what it will be once it is really rare!
Not every discontinued note appreciates in value like that, but enough do to make it worth thinking about. If you have an exceptionally rare or valuable old note, it will likely increase in value as time goes by. Discussing options with a dealer you trust is the best way to find out if you should hold onto your old Canadian bills, or if you should sell them now.
Where To Sell Old Canadian Notes
1. Bank Of Canada
The Bank of Canada has a policy that allows anyone redeem Canadian notes that are no longer recognized as legal tender. You must, however, go through their system. The Bank of Canada does not accept:
- Coins – You must contact the Royal Canadian Mint to redeem coins
- Any bank notes issued by other countries
- Bank notes you deliver in person
If your notes do not fall into one of those categories, you should submit a claim form, available on the Bank of Canada website. If the Bank needs additional information, personnel will contact you.
You should place your notes in a sealable, clear, leak-proof bag. Place the bag containing the bank notes and the claim form separately in an envelope or package, as described in the instructions on the Bank of Canada’s website. Do not put the claim form in with the bank notes. Send the package to the Bank of Canada in Ottawa, ON, by regular or registered mail.
You send bank notes at your own risk. If their monetary value is high, you may want to consider insuring them before sending them in. You should have all your old notes reviewed by a certified dealer in Canadian bank notes before sending them away. Some of them might be worth more than their face value. In rare instances, a bill might be worth much more than its face value.
Once your package is received, the Bank of Canada will send you a letter acknowledging receipt of your claim and the notes. Currency experts will then examine the bank notes and verify their value.
The process typically takes between 30 and 60 business days, provided the claim is simple. There are exceptions. Those include, but are not limited to:
- Claims with incomplete information regarding the claimant
- Higher denomination notes
- Notes that exceed $1,000 in total
- Increase in processing volume
In these cases, it might take longer than 60 days, and the Bank of Canada personnel may need to discuss your claim with you directly.
Make sure the plastic bag you use is sealable and clean. You do not want the process to be held up because you used a bag that the Bank of Canada reviewers feel needs special attention.
You are not limited to how many claims you submit. So, if your notes are at or over the $1,000 mark, sending in more than one claim and breaking up your totals might save you time.
The Bank of Canada reserves the right to request that you “cleanse the bank notes to the Bank’s satisfaction” prior to the assessment. Because of that, make sure your bank notes are in as good condition as possible.
The Bank of Canada will not return notes it refuses or finds suspicious. If some of your notes fall into either of those categories, you may want to exclude them from the notes you are sending in for redemption.
If your old notes are damaged, the Bank of Canada personnel might ask you to use their system for replacing or redeeming damaged notes.
Finally, you will be responsible for any online banking fees associated with the redemption of the notes.
Notes Exceeding Face Value
The bank is not an assessment service. A Bank of Canada old currency assessor will:
- Verify the currency denomination face value
- Authenticate the bill itself as official currency
- Assess the condition of the bill
The Bank of Canada assessor will not:
- Examine your bill for rareness
- Price your bill beyond the face value
- Grade your bill
- Alert you if your bill is worth more than the face value
So, if you think some of your notes are worth more than their face value, your best bet is to take your notes to a reputable Canadian notes dealer and let them evaluate and price the notes first.
2. Local Banks
The Bank of Canada has assured customers that, while the notes that are no longer recognized as currency are not legal tender, each bill is redeemable for the face value of that bill. Some local bank policies vary, so you should check with your local bank for any requirements before visiting them.
These institutions may have their own processes as well. You may not, for instance, be able to bring old currency into the bank without an appointment. A few of them will also have the Bank of Canada paperwork for you to fill out and may even have a similar process for verifying authentic notes.
Almost all banks discontinued their processing of old notes during the pandemic. The Bank of Canada’s website indicates that while processing old notes has resumed, there is a backlog. This will go down over time, but don’t be surprised if your processing time is closer to the longer end of the processing window than the shorter end.
3. Private Dealers
Another option is to have your notes evaluated by a third-party dealer and have them assign a value to each note. You might have notes that are worth significantly more than face value. A reputable dealer can tell you if that’s the case, and some dealers will redeem your notes at face value at least too.
If not, you can then take your more common notes and exchange them through the Bank of Canada, knowing that the face value is the actual value of your old notes.
4. Old Note Collectors
This group of collectors are worth looking into if you think you have a few notes that exceed their face value. If all you have are lower denomination, face value notes, collectors may not be helpful. If, however, you do have notes that are worth more, you may be able to sell them to one of these collectors for their market price.
If you go this route, however, you should get a second opinion from a verified and reputable dealer in Canadian notes. The collector you deal with might be completely honest, but they also might be tempted to give you less than you could get from a dealer.
If the dealer and the collector quote figures that agree with each other, then you know you are getting a fair price. If the collector’s is a lot higher, you know you have room to negotiate or, if the collector will not negotiate, you know you can get a better offer by walking away and going to the dealer instead.
If you have Canadian $1, $2, $25, $500 and $1000 notes, they are no longer legal tender. The good news is that you can turn them in for face value at the bank. The better news is that any of these notes may be worth more than face value depending on several criteria, so it pays to have them evaluated by a reputable dealer before trying to sell them.