Bureau of Engraving & Printing (BEP) Overview

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) is the largest producer of security documents in the United States.  The BEP prints billions of Federal Reserve Notes for delivery to the Federal Reserve System each year.  The BEP also produces miscellaneous security documents for other government agencies.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing began in a single room in the basement of the main Treasury Building on August 29, 1862. Prior to this, on July 17, 1861, Congress authorized the federal government to begin issuing paper money in an attempt to ensure that the currency was safe from counterfeiting during the Civil War.

As the Bureau entered the modern era, electric lighting was introduced in 1888. The majority of BEP employees were placed under the Civil Service in 1888 and by 1908 all jobs were included.
During World War II, the Bureau overprinted stocks of regular currency notes with distinguishing identifying features for use in the Hawaiian Islands. Also during World War II, then President Franklin Roosevelt had a very unique use for the Bureau's special siding and loading platform located in the basement of the Bureau's Annex Building. Because it was very difficult for the President to climb stairs, when he was scheduled to travel by train, the Presidential railroad car was shuttled onto the Bureau's siding and the President was driven by car to the Bureau where he was able to board his private car directly from the loading platform.
In it's history, the Bureau also has printed currency for the governments of the Republic of China, in 1934, Siam, in 1945, Korea, in 1947 and the Philippines, in 1928. The Bureau was reimbursed by each government for its work.
Although currency notes in denominations above $100 are no longer available, at one time the Bureau printed denominations of $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000. They were last printed in 1945 but remained in circulation until 1969 when they were discontinued for lack of use. Although these notes are still legal tender, most notes still in circulation are in the hands of private dealers or collectors. If you are interested in locating a large denomination note, we suggest looking in the classified section of the telephone directory under the heading "Coins and Hobbies."
Both the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the Treasurer's Office frequently get questions from people wondering what to do with mutilated currency. Mutilated currency can be redeemed through the BEP. It can be mailed or personally delivered to the Bureau. A letter should be submitted stating the estimated value of the currency and an explanation of how the currency became mutilated. Experienced mutilated currency examiners will carefully examine the currency to determine the amount and value of the damaged note. The Director of the Bureau has final authority over the settlement of mutilated currency claims.
For more information of the procedures for redeeming mutilated currency, please visit the BEP’s website at:  www.moneyfactory.gov
The mailing address is:
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Room 344A
P.O. Box 37048
Washington, D. C. 20013
All mutilated currency should be sent by "Registered Mail, Return Receipt Requested." Insuring the shipment is the responsibility of the sender.
Personal deliveries of mutilated currency to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing are accepted between the hours of 8:00 A.M. and 2:00 P.M., Monday through Friday, except holidays. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing's Office of Financial Management, Mutilated Currency Division is located at 14th and C Streets, S. W., Washington, D.C.
For information about the BEP’s Public Tours please visit their website at:  www.moneyfactory.gov
For further information, the general numbers of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing are:  202-874-8888 and 1-877-874-4114
Last Updated: 12/1/2010 12:26 AM