Currency bill tracking

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USD 1 banknote (Dollar bill)

Currency bill tracking is the process (usually facilitated by any one of a number of websites set up for the purpose) of tracking the movements of banknotes, similar to how ornithologists track migrations of birds by ringing them. Currency bill tracking sites can track currency among the users of that website. A user may register a bill by entering its serial number, and if someone else has already registered the bill, then the "route" of the bill can be displayed.

Some bill tracking sites encourage marking before spending, whereas others do not. This usually depends on the laws of the country issuing the currency.

The most popular currencies for currencies tracking are the Euro, the United States Dollar (USD), and the Canadian Dollar (CAD).

Background and legal status[edit]

Originally beginning in the United States in the mid-1990s, the phenomenon or hobby of currency tracking quickly spread first to Canada and then beyond. Especially with the Euro bill tracking, trackers have taken on a much more competitive nature and have formed communities within their respective sites. Many successful sites incorporate some sort of social media, either through site specific unique techniques, or through outside popular social media sites. In the Eurozone because multiple countries having adopted the Euro, this easily leads to competition between trackers in different countries; in the United States competition plays out at the state or county level; and in Canada, at the provincial level.

Marking bills in Canada with ink or rubber stamp is legal. In the United States, marking is illegal if there is intent to render the bill "unfit to be re-issued"; however, this is rarely enforced and only a fine is faced, if convicted. Marking is widespread in both countries. In the Eurozone marking is not universal, and varies by region. The European Central Bank considers the marking of bills (as well as the destruction of them) to be legal and not exclusive to governments.

Popular currency bill tracking websites[edit]

Some of the most popular websites for bill tracking include the following:


  • Where's George?, started in December 1998, was the first site to start a currency bill tracking project and remains the most popular of the sites, with the number of bills entered reaching 261,805,326 worth $1,407,727,237 as of May 7, 2016. The site was created by Hank Eskin to track US Dollars and has led to the creation of many other bill tracking sites.[1]
  • Where's Willy? for CAD (Canada). Despite the website starting up two years after Canadian Money Tracker, it is the most popular of the Canadian currency tracking sites.[2]



In popular culture[edit]

The act of tracking a $20 bill was the binding theme between various stories in the film Twenty Bucks.

A similar scheme to currency bill tracking – and said to be inspired by it – is BookCrossing, which tracks the movement of secondhand books which are marked and then "released into the wild".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Where's George Website
  2. ^ The Where's Willy Website
  3. ^ "". 2002-01-01. Retrieved 2012-03-13. 
  4. ^ "". 2015-09-01. Retrieved 2015-10-15.