What is the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP)?

Published by Thomas Herold in Economics, Laws & Regulations

'Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP)' is explained in detail and with examples in the Economics edition of the Herold Financial Dictionary, which you can get from Amazon in Ebook or Paperback edition.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is the Treasury Department entity that actually makes the United States’ currency. Their mission centers on creating and producing American currency notes which are trusted around the world. They have a vision to be considered the world standard for securities printing. This is so that they can deliver the public and their customers with the best products that are exceptionally well designed and manufactured.

The main activities of the BEP are to print up billions of Federal Reserve notes (or dollars) every single year. They then deliver these to the Federal Reserve System for distribution into the economy. It is the Federal Reserve that exists to be the American central bank. They bear the responsibility to be certain that sufficient coins and bills currency are in active circulation. The BEP handles all of the U.S. printed bills but does not make any coins. United States coins are always minted at the U.S. Mint.

When various federal agencies have concerns or questions about document security, they turn to the BEP for help and advice. The BEP also engages in research and development for improving their utilization of automation processes in production. They are always seeking out technologies to deter counterfeiters of U.S. currency and security documents as well.

It is no understatement to say that currency creation at the BEP offices has changed drastically from its origins in 1862. In those early years, they used the basement in the Treasury building. Here a handful of individuals worked with hand cranked machines to print and separate notes. Today’s BEP does not engage in an easy process or job.

Nowadays making the currency bills takes greatly skilled and expertly trained craftspeople who work with specially designed equipment. They utilize both sophisticated and world leading technology alongside the time tested old world printing methods. Producing the currency takes numerous specific steps. This starts with designing, engraving, and making the plates. The specially sourced paper is then plate printed and inspected. Bills are numbered and re-inspected again before being packaged and shipped to their customer the Federal Reserve Bank.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing also offers redemption of mutilated currency services and the sale of shredded currency. BEP will redeem such mutilated currency for free for the public. If the bills are so damaged that the value can not be conclusively determined, they can be sent on to the BEP so that their trained experts can examine them. After their determination is made, they will redeem the currency for full face value.

They accept currency that has been mutilated by water, fire, chemicals, or explosives; deterioration or petrification from burying; or insect, animal, or rodent damage. Bills missing security features are also treated as mutilated. For them to consider these bills without supporting documentation and explanations for what happened, at least half of the note has to be identifiable as American currency and remain.

If less than 50% is present, Treasury will require proof that the rest of the currency has been destroyed. Each year the department examines 30,000 mutilated currency claims and redeems them for more than $30 million.

The BEP also sells bags of shredded currency as novelty souvenir items. The Fort Worth and Washington, D.C. BEP visitor centers offer them in pre-packed small amounts for those who just want to have some. The D.C. visitor center and online store of the BEP also sell larger five pound bags of such shredded currency. In order to obtain larger quantities, individuals must get permission from the Treasury department and obtain them from one of the Federal Reserve Banks.

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The term 'Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP)' is included in the Economics edition of the Herold Financial Dictionary, which you can get from Amazon in Ebook or Paperback edition.