[This document has been produced by the Reserve Bank of Australia and has been slightly modified on this page.]
Standard numbering system
Australian notes are printed in sheets. Each denomination has a different sheet size, which affects the number of notes that can be printed on each sheet. For example, there are 45 notes on a sheet of $10 notes, 40 notes on a sheet of $5, $20 and $50 notes and 32 notes on a sheet of $100 notes.
The current serial number and prefix system (known as the Year Dated System) began in 1993. Under this system, each serial number consists of a prefix of two letters and two numbers, and a suffix of six numbers (i.e. AE 05 702698). The two letters of the prefix indicate the position of each note on the sheet. The two numbers of the prefix indicate the year of manufacture. Each note on a given sheet has a different letter prefix, but the same two numbers (i.e., year of manufacture). The six numbers that make-up the suffix also remain the same on each sheet.
For example, the serial numbers for a print run of $100 notes have the following pattern:
From one sheet to the next the range of prefixes remains the same, but the numbers in the suffix fall by one. That is, for a given prefix range, sheets are numbered downwards from highest to lowest, creating a maximum of 32 million notes (1 million sheets x 32 notes per sheet including the zero sheet, which has a suffix of six zeros). The zero sheet is usually destroyed.
If the print run in the above example is for 32 million pieces or less, the first and last prefixes would be AA 05 and CF 05 respectively. However, if more than 32 million notes are required, a second set of prefixes (CG 05 to EL 05) would be used. The second set of prefixes could create a further 32 million notes, bringing the total number of notes for the print run to a maximum of 64 million. Again, if this was the end of the print run the last prefix would be EL 05 (as shown below):
If more than 64 million notes are required, a third set of prefixes (EM 05 to HE 05) would be used. Of course, this would change the last prefix to HE 05. This process would continue until the required number of notes for the print run is reached. Consequently, the last prefix will depend on the size of the print run.
Not all denominations are printed every year. The number of notes and the denominations to be printed is primarily determined by the need to replace worn notes and to meet growth in circulation.
The 1992 consecutive numerical prefix system
The first of the new polymer series notes to be released the 1992 $5 note used a prefix structure known as the Consecutive Numerical Prefix System. Under this system, the $5 notes (of which there are 40 notes to a sheet) were numbered differently. The first two numbers of the prefix indicated the position of the note on the sheet, and ranged from AA 00 to AA 39. Like the Year Dated System, the serial number of each note on a sheet had the same suffix and, from sheet to sheet, the suffix was reduced by one; creating 40 million notes for this prefix range. A new set of prefixes were allocated for the next 40 million notes (e.g. AA 40 to AA 79). The final set of prefixes used for this print run was AA 80 through to AB 19.
Since 1993, when the RBA moved to the Year Dated System, we have been unable to issue $5 notes with prefixes AA and AB, as these prefixes have already been used under the Consecutive Numerical Prefix System. To do so would lead to the issue of notes with duplicate serial numbers (e.g. a note with the serial number AA05 999999 was first used in 1992). For this reason, using the Year Dated System, the first prefix for all $5 print runs is always BA.
Note serial number information
Some of the note prefix and serial number information has been compiled from incomplete records, and it is possible that notes have been issued with serial numbers outside of those published in the above tables. While every effort has been made by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) to ensure the information is correct, the RBA accepts no liability for the accuracy or completeness of the information, nor any responsibility for financial loss or damage resulting from use of the information. The RBA recommends that users exercise care and judgement when using the information.