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After seeing some cash destroyed in a fire in a popular Netflix TV series, I wondered what would happen if someone's cash was destroyed in a fire.

Assuming you had some way to prove that the money was utterly destroyed, would the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing replace it?

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Hypothetically, yes!

From the U.S. BEP's guidelines on Damaged Currency:

Under regulations issued by the Department of the Treasury, mutilated United States currency may be exchanged at face value if:

  • More than 50% of a note identifiable as United States currency is present; or,
  • 50% or less of a note identifiable as United States currency is present, and the method of mutilation and supporting evidence demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Treasury that the missing portions have been totally destroyed.

"50% or less" includes "0%".

However, it is probably going to be very difficult to prove that the currency existed, had a specific face value, and was completely destroyed (instead of being replaced with a decoy at the last minute.)

  • 2
    In particular, I wouldn't be surprised if the BEP told you that regardless of whether or not 0% counts for those conditions, you still don't have any mutilated currency to exchange, so you can't exchange it. It's vague enough that someone with the resources of a big business behind them might be able to get it done, though. – user2357112 supports Monica Sep 9 '14 at 0:13
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    So in theory, I could cut a bank note in 2, burn those places that indicate that they're actually of the same note, then turn them in and claim that they're different notes? Could this actually work, or are the indicators so spread-out that it's impossible to destroy them all? – Nzall Sep 9 '14 at 6:48
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    @NateKerkhofs: It seems pretty clear to me that the regulations aim to prevent exactly that case through the "easy exchange only if 50%+ of the note is present, otherwise you have to convince us with really good evidence" clause. – Michael Borgwardt Sep 9 '14 at 8:46
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    If you have 0% of a note, how is it identifiable as United States currency? – Rawling Sep 9 '14 at 9:36
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    @JacobKrall If you have nothing, how is it identifiable as United States currency? – Rawling Sep 9 '14 at 11:39

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