Counterfeiting money is one of the major offences that can be committed against the security of the country. Following the definition laid down in Article 239 of the UAE Penal Code, Federal Decree-Law No. 31 of 2021, counterfeiting coins means reducing the metal composition of such coins or coating them to resemble those of a higher value. Generally, counterfeiting currency means producing currency through illegal means, without the approval of the government. The currency so produced is an imitation of the original and does not carry any value.

An entire chapter of the UAE Penal Code is dedicated to counterfeiting of currency and government bonds, and the UAE has set out harsh penalties for those found committing the stipulated offences.

Penalties for counterfeiting money

Article 239 itself states that a person found counterfeiting, falsifying or forging a government bond or currency – banknotes or coins – whether by himself or through an intermediary, will be sentenced to life or temporary imprisonment, in addition to a fine of minimum AED 200,000. The penalty prescribed is the same even if the counterfeit, falsified or forged currency in circulation belongs to a country other than the UAE.

Manufacturing or obtaining tools, machinery or other similar things used for the purposes of counterfeiting, forging or falsifying currency is punishable by temporary imprisonment as well, as per Article 244 of the Penal Code. Even acquisition of such things may lead to a jail sentence.

Article 240 of the UAE Penal Code also mentions the punishment of life or temporary imprisonment and a fine of at least AED 200,000, when:

  1. A person knowingly takes forged, false or counterfeit currency or government bonds inside or outside the UAE, either by himself or through an intermediary
  2. A person knowingly circulates, deals in, or has possession of forged, false or counterfeit currency or government bonds, for the purpose of circulation

Life imprisonment in certain cases

The offences mentioned under Articles 239 and 240 of the UAE Penal Code will attract the punishment of life imprisonment if the acts committed result in the devaluation of national currency or bonds, or destabilization of credit in the domestic or foreign market. This is as per Article 241 of the UAE Penal Code.

Demonetized currency

As per Article 242, bringing demonetized currency into the country, or circulating or recirculating demonetized bank notes and coins also entails a punishment of jail sentence up to a year and a fine of AED 50,000, when the same is done knowingly.


What can I do if I mistakenly accept counterfeit currency from someone? Will I be liable to any fines?

Taking counterfeit currency by mistake may not lead to any penalties as such, however once it is known that such currency is counterfeit but still using that currency for trade will definitely lead to jail sentence which can go up to almost a year, and a fine of nearly AED 50,000, under Article 243 of the Penal Code. Therefore, it is always better to be precautionary when accepting currency through cash that too in large amounts by a source you may not be sure of. 

One of the most common ways to detect fake currency notes is to hold them up under an ultraviolet light, and see whether it has a security thread running through the note. A counterfeit currency note will most likely feel like a photocopy, because an original note has certain marks embossed on it. One can also look out for watermarks of the portrait on the currency note, which could appear to be blurred in most cases of counterfeit money.


Exemption from penalty

A person can escape the penalty of counterfeiting currency under Article 245 of the UAE Penal Code, if he reports the counterfeit, forged or falsified currency with the judicial or administrative authorities before it is put to use, i.e. before the crime is committed. If the person reports the same once the crime has already been discovered, he may be exempted from the penalty if such discovery lead to the conviction of other criminals involved in the fraudulent act.


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