The euro coin series comprises eight different denominations: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents, €1 and €2.
The eight coins are differentiated by weight, material, thickness and colour as well as by the kind of edge in relation to the other coins. These features make it possible for the visually impaired to recognize the individual coins by feel. (see EC Regulation No 975-98 on denominations and technical specifications).
In 1996 the EU Council of Economics and Finance Ministers (ECOFIN) established that euro coins should have a common European side and a national side chosen freely by the member states on condition that the12 stars of the European Union are incorporated into the design.
Even if they have different national sides, the coins can be used and circulate in all the states that have adopted the euro, independently of the issuing country. The Principality of Monaco, the Republic of San Marino and the Vatican City are not formally part of the European Union but they have the right to issue euro coins with their own national sides and these coins are legal tender throughout the area.
In relation to limits placed on the coins being legal tender, art. 11 of EC Regulation No 974-98 establishes that with the exception of the issuing authority, no party is obliged to accept more than 50 metal coins in any single payment, regardless of denomination. In Italy, euro coins are minted by the State Printing Works and Mint on behalf of the Ministry for the Economy and Finance, which, in its capacity as issuing authority, ensures that they are distributed nationally through the Sections of the State Treasury operating jointly with the branches of the Bank of Italy.
Damaged coins can be presented to the branches of the Bank of Italy, which then forward them to the State Printing Works and Mint.
The "recirculation" of euro coins is governed by EU Regulation 1210/2010 on the authentication of euro coins and the handling of coins unfit for circulation. Institutions handling coins (banks and cash-in-transit companies) that intend to put back into circulation coins that they have received as deposits are required to authenticate them using coin-processing machines included in a special list kept by the Commission; alternatively, the coins can be authenticated manually by duly trained personnel. In Italy the power to regulate coin handlers is assigned to the Ministry for the Economy and Finance. The Mint is assigned the power to check the coin handlers' capability to authenticate euro coins in accordance with Regulation 1210/2010.
In June 1997, the designs of Luc Luycx of the Royal Belgian Mint were chosen for the common side of euro coins. They represent three different geographical maps of Europe.
The map on the first three coins (1, 2, and 5 cents) shows Europe in the world; the map on the 10, 20, and 50 cent coins shows the Union as a group of nations. To highlight the concept of unity, the 15 member states are shown as a single block on the 1 and 2 euro coins.
On 7 June 2005, the Council of the European Union decided to change the common sides of the 10, 20 and 50 cent coins as well as those on the €1 and €2 coins, so that in the future all the Member States will be represented.
The Italian national sides
In Italy, the euro coin designs were subject to scrutiny by a national technical and artistic committee before being presented to the nation on RAI UNO, Italy's largest national television station. A different design has been selected for each denomination, chosen from masterpieces by Italy's most famous artists.
Euro coins are produced using advanced technology. For this reason, they incorporate high-security machine-readable characteristics, making it difficult to counterfeit them. They can be used in vending machines throughout the euro area - no matter where they were issued.
With a sophisticated production process, the highest value coins (€1 and €2) use bi-metal and sandwich technologies, giving them special magnetic properties. The €2 coin has fine lettering around the edge which is different for each country. The 10, 20, and 50 cent coins are made of a unique alloy "Nordic gold" which is difficult to melt down and is used exclusively for coins.
Each member state of the Eurosystem can issue commemorative coins once a year (Commission Recommendation of 29 September 2003 - EU Official Journal 15/10/2003). Only the €2 denomination can be used for commemorative coins. They have the same features and properties and the same common side as normal €2 coins. What makes them different is their commemorative design on the national side. They are legal tender throughout the euro area and can therefore be used just like any other euro coin.
The Principality of Monaco, the Republic of San Marino and the Vatican City can also issue commemorative coins.
Some of the coins minted by the member states are reserved for collectors. There are complete sets of coins (from 1 cent to €2), minted with extra care and usually made available in presentation boxes. The price of these sets is greater than the face value of the coins. There are also coins minted in precious metals in non-standard denominations (silver €5 and €10 coins, and gold €20 and €50 coins). Coins from complete collector's sets (from 1 cent to €2 coins) are legal tender throughout the euro area, the precious metal coins are only legal tender in their country of origin. The ordering and sales service is run by the Italian State Printing Works and Mint.
The term "damaged" or "unfit for circulation" means those euro coins that are defective or whose technical parameters have been significantly altered as regards size, weight, colour, corrosion or damage to the edges following a long period of circulation or as a result of accidental damage.
Deliberately altered - but not counterfeit - coins are also included in this category.
All member states of the European Union must reimburse or replace euro coins that are unfit for circulation, regardless of the country of issue and therefore of the national side imprint (Commission Recommendation of 27 May 2005 - Official Journal 15.7.2005).
Anyone in possession of damaged euro coins can hand them in to any branch of the Bank of Italy. They must be packaged in conformity with EU Regulation 1210/2010, as specified below. The Bank of Italy will issue the bearer a receipt and forward the packages of damaged coins to the State Printing Works and Mint, which is responsible for reimbursement decisions.
Members of the public who hand in unfit euro coins to branches of the Bank of Italy pay no commission for reimbursement or replacement. Nevertheless, all metal coins that have been deliberately altered or have incisions or symbols that are intended to offend the State and its representative institutions are treated in the same way as counterfeit coins and are therefore not reimbursed.
Coins unfit for circulation presented for reimbursement or replacement must be submitted to the branches of the Bank of Italy in standardized containers and sorted by denomination, as follows:
- 500 coins container for the denominations of EUR 2 or EUR 1,
- 1 000 coins for each of the denominations of EUR 0.50, EUR 0.20 and EUR 0.10,
- 2 000 coins for each of the denominations of EUR 0.05, EUR 0.02 and EUR 0.01,
- for smaller quantities, 100 coins of each denomination.
The natural or legal person submitting the package must provide a list of the containers, each identified by a number. Each container must bear the identifying details of the person, the value and the denomination contained, the weight, the date of packaging and the container number.
The containers required are common self-sealing, transparent plastic bags, commercially available.
Where the total quantity of euro coins unfit for circulation is smaller than the requirements set forth above, the coins must be sorted by denomination and may be submitted in non-standard packaging.
If the coins have been treated with chemical or other hazardous substances, separate standard packaging units must be prepared and accompanied by a written declaration specifying the exact substances that have been used.
Similarly, unfit coins collected for charitable purposes (such as "fountain coins") must be packaged in distinct standardized containers accompanied by a written declaration specifying the nature and specific cause of the damage.
The regulations governing counterfeit euro coins are contained in the Decree of 1 March 2002 by the Ministry for the Economy and Finance implementing the indications given in EC Council Regulation No 1338/2001 of 28.06.2001.
The above-mentioned decree identifies the agencies required to withdraw suspect euro coins from circulation whenever they come into possession of them for whatever reason. Among these, for example, are banks, post offices (Poste Italiane), investment companies, savings management companies, financial intermediaries, exchange agents, and insurance companies.
When any of the above receive suspect coins, they must give a receipt to the bearer, and immediately send the coins to the Centro Nazionale di Analisi (CNAC) at the Italian State Printing Works and Mint. If the coins are then found to be genuine, the State Mint will inform the Cassa Speciale per le monete a debito dello Stato, and the bearer will be reimbursed for the face value of the coins withdrawn. If, on the other hand, the coins are found to be counterfeit, no reimbursement will be made.
Deposits of euro coins by banks and Poste Italiane S.p.A.
On 1st January 2008 the Bank of Italy opened, at its Rome CDM branch, a collection point where banks and Poste Italiane S.p.A. can deposit their excess euro coins. The coins will then be used to supply the banking and postal systems. A packaging standard has been defined that makes it possible to identify the persons (banks or Cash In Transit companies - CITs) that have sorted and packaged the coins.
For the deposit and withdrawal of the packages, banks and Poste Italiane must issue an exemption from liability warrant for the facilitated coin deposit and withdrawal procedure, and if they intend to avail themselves of a CIT company, to notify the identities of the company staff members assigned to the deposit and/or withdrawal of the boxes of coins.
This documentation (the form to fill-in is available at all Bank of Italy branches), must be exhibited at the Rome CDM branch. Banks not present in Rome shall deliver the necessary documentation to the branch at which they have their central bank account, which will forward it to Rome CDM branch.
Deposits and withdrawals must be booked in advance and agreed with the Rome CDM branch.
The coins must be packed in non-transparent single-denomination cardboard boxes. Each box contains a given number of rolls of coins, as specified in the table:
|Denomination||No. rolls||Coins/roll||No. coins|
Each box must carry a label showing the following data:
- the corporate name of the cash handler (CIT) that made the package,
- the denomination of the coins, and
- the number and total value of the coins and the specification of the bank that has entered into the agreement with the Bank of Italy.
Each roll must indicate the country (IT for Italy) and the code number of the cash handler that has sorted and packaged the coins. Codes are assigned by the Bank of Italy upon request by the interested companies. Requests should be submitted to:
Servizio Cassa Generale
Divisione Analisi della circolazione e movimenti fondi
Via Nazionale, 91