Canada: New Polymer Currency

Canada just recently introduced a new $100 banknote, made with a polymer substrate rather than paper. Its security features include two see-through windows.

According to the Bank of Canada, you can “feel, look, and flip” to make sure the bill is real.

The polymer bills can last much longer (up to two-and-a-half times longer) than cotton-linen paper bills, and they can be recycled into other polymer-base products. They’re significantly stronger than regular paper substrate.

To test durability, the banknotes were boiled, frozen and run through washing machines. A tumbling mechanism filled with coffee grinds, marbles, bolts and synthetic sweat was meant to simulate the effect of being left in a pocket.

Polymer notes show less wear and tear than paper bills, as well, which causes less trouble for ATMs. They won’t curl up at the corners or dogear.

Over the next two years, polymer notes in all denominations will be rolled out. This new $100 “continues to be mainly brown and to feature a portrait of Sir Robert Borden, Canada’s eighth prime minister from 1911 to 1920.”

Bank of Canada scientific advisor Martine Warren took reporters through the advanced security features:

  • Raised ink can be felt on the large “100” numeral and Sir Robert’s shoulders;
  • A see-through window runs vertically to the right of Sir Robert’s portrait on the face side.
  • A metallic portrait of Sir Robert and a picture of part of the Parliament buildings embedded in the window can be seen equally from the face and reverse sides of the bill;
  • Translucent text also appears in the window;
  • A series of maple leaves of different sizes frame parts of the window;
  • A frosted maple leaf window appears to the left of the main Sir Robert portrait;
  • Hidden numbers in the maple leaf window can be viewed by holding the window to a bright light.

Shortly after the introduction of the new polymer bills, rumors began to spread about bills melting in hot cars, or deforming in other heat-related incidents.

A credit union teller in Kelowna, B.C., told a local radio station last month that she had seen melted polymer bills stuck together after being left in a car during a heat wave. A Cambridge, Ont., woman says she received a $800 reimbursement cheque from the central bank formelted bills. And a Halifax, N.S. man claims to have put his wallet on a toaster oven only to find later that three $100 bills had been deformed from the heat.

Bank of Canada responded that it was unaware of any actual heat-related problems with the bills, and said that they are able to withstand temperatures of up to 140 C.

[WHO makes these crazy videos? The US has an identical one for its new $100. They are so strange.]


Bergen, Jennifer. “Bank of Canada Launches High-Tech Polymer Bills To Thwart Counterfeiters.” 21 June 2011.

Goddard, John. “$100 Polymer Banknote Goes Into Circulation” The Star. 14 November 2011.

Canadian Plastics ( Daily News, “Are Canada’s new polymer bills wilting under the heat?”

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