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Images of Currency in Advertising

Images of Canadian coins and bank notes CANNOT be freely reproduced in marketing and advertising materials. Reproducing images of coins and bank notes can attract both criminal and civil sanctions. To avoid such risks, it is advisable to seek permission from the appropriate authority BEFORE reproducing an image of either a coin or a bank note for any purpose.


First and foremost, anyone who makes or begins to counterfeit money is guilty of a criminal offence per section 449 of the Criminal Code and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years. Any equipment used or intended to be used for the purpose of counterfeiting can be seized for destruction.

Second, reproducing, publishing and circulating anything in the likeness of a bank note is considered a criminal offence per section 457 of the Criminal Code. Exceptions are available where: (a) the likeness is produced with the prior written permission of the Bank; or (b) the likeness is:

i.          printed;

ii.         less than 3/4 or greater than 1 1/2 times the length or width of the bank note; and

iii.        in black and white or only one-sided.


The Royal Canadian Mint (the “Mint”) is the owner of all intellectual property rights in respect of its activities, including the coin images. Any use of Canadian coin images without the authorization of the Mint may result in legal action for copyright infringement. The Mint will grant authorization to use its coin images and other IP, but not all requests for authorization are treated the same way.  

The first distinction is drawn between commercial and non-commercial uses. Any online or offline advertising to bring awareness to an organization for an end result being to generate a profit is considered a commercial use. Any use for information purposes only is considered non-commercial.

A second distinction is made on the basis of what entity is requesting the authorization. All levels of government requesting authorization for non-commercial purposes will receive the authorization at no cost. Likewise, registered charitable organizations will receive the right to use coin images at no cost. For use in educational materials, authorization will also be granted at a royalty free level.

It is possible to obtain authorization for some commercial uses of coin images or intellectual property rights owned by the Mint. The Mint has the discretion to grant or deny authorization and to charge royalties for commercial use.

Where products or their packaging bear coin images, the royalties are set at the discretion of the Mint and may be calculated either as a lump sum or as a percentage. In determining what royalty to charge, the Mint considers how the coin image will be used, the number of products on the market, the duration products will be in the market, the retail price of each product, the nature of the target clients and the territory where the products will be advertised and sold.

For media exposure of coin images for advertising purposes in any medium, royalties are charged at a rate of 1% to 2.5% of the total value of the media campaign. The applicable royalty rate will vary with the size of the regional or national media campaign, the extent of media placements and the volume of promotional materials distributed.

In order to obtain authorization, it is necessary to apply to the Mint in writing using the prescribed form. The Mint will require details of what images will be used, how and where they will appear, the nature of the person or organization who is seeking authorization. An administration fee must also be submitted for processing of the request for authorization.  The current fee is $350. It typically takes about 10-20 business days for the Mint to review a request for authorization and to inform the applicant of its decision on granting the authorization and any conditions it will place on the usage.

Further information may be found at:http://

Bank Notes

The Bank of Canada (the "Bank") is the owner of copyright in Canadian bank notes and other related images. Again, any use of Canadian bank notes without the authorization of the Bank may result in legal action for copyright infringement. Like the Mint, the Bank will grant authorization to use it’s the images on its bank notes and other intellectual property, but such authorization is usually subject to restrictions. 

Request for permission must be made in writing to the Bank and must include a copy of the proposed reproduction, a description of the reproduction, its purpose, and the manner of use and distribution of the bank note image. The Bank will then consider the request and may grant consent if there is no risk that the reproduced image could be mistaken for a genuine bank note or misused by counterfeiters and that the proposed use does not tarnish the dignity and importance of the currency to Canadians.

If authorization is granted, typical restrictions on the appearance of the reproduction, include: (a) reproducing the image in a size that does not correspond to an actual bank note; (b) using only a partial image of a bank note; (c) printing the image only in black and white; (d) showing the bank note on a slant or not flat to the camera; or (e) including a watermark or overlay to identify that the image is a specimen or is used with permission of the Bank.

Coupons & Vouchers: The Bank has a policy of not approving requests for permission to produce a promotional coupon or voucher bearing a likeness to a Canadian bank note.

Film & Video: The Bank does not require requests for permission to show bank note images in film or video provided that the images are intended to show a general indication of currency and there is no danger that particular images could be misused.

Further information may be found at:


Disclaimer: The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about specific circumstances.