Don’t get turned away at the register, know what notes are “fit” for use

Is it true that shops are allowed to reject “damaged” bills? If so, what do they considered “damaged” and what am I supposed to do with them now?

Yes, it’s true. The National Bank of Vietnam has a set of standards for notes in active circulation. If a bill falls short of these standards, it is termed “unfit for circulation” and any business in Vietnam has the right to reject it for payment.

Bills unfit for circulation are:

1) Bills that are torn (in part or completely), perforated, crushed, rotted or burnt in any way.

2) Bills that are faded (unclear numbers and details) over time, warped due to heat, or doodled/drawn/written on. Bills whose details and numbers are erased or show signs of chemical tampering.

3) Bills that show printing errors such as print crease, ink blots, blurry details, missing or unclear pictures and numbers. Bills that have been deformed during production and transporting.

You can exchange them for “fit” bills at any Vietnamese banks (National Bank of Vietnam and all commercial banks) and State Stock Exchanges. According to Regulation # 25/2013/ TT-NHNN, anyone can exchange unfit for circulations bills at any of the above locations under these terms.

1) Bills under Category 3 (termed Unfit for Objective Reasons) are exchanged with no fee. The exchange requires no documentation and there is no limit on the quantity.

2) Bills under Category 1 and 2 (termed Unfit for Subjective Reasons) can be reviewed for exchange. They can be exchanged with no fee and no documentation provided that:
– Torn, burned, perforated, crushed and rotted bills retain at least 60 percent of their original form

– Patched up bills retain at least 90 percent of their original form

– Polymer bills that have been burnt or shrunk due to extreme heat or chemical tampering retain at least 30 percent of their original form

All of the above must also retain at least two security features on the bill. (Source: Public Statement issued by State Bank of Vietnam on 03/12/2013)