Is it Illegal to Write on Money?

Do the banks reject your currency notes just for having your latest sketch displayed on them? After all, it’s your cash and you can do anything as per your whims and fancies. But not every privilege is available when it comes to dealing with notes and it may be even illegal to write on money.

While you may think it is perfectly okay to write on them, certain nations prohibit you from doing so. So much so, that you may even end up taking a prison tour for writing on currency! But what exactly is the reason behind making such a harmless thing a punishable offense? Let’s dive deep to know more about it!

Why is it Illegal to Write on Money?

The answer to this question is highly debatable and subjected to the laws of your land. There are many nations in the world that believe in the theory that currency is a governmental and fiduciary property that is entrusted into the hands of the public in good faith. It is expected that the general public does not tamper around with any note or monetary instrument.

While there a few nations which allow scribbled notes for transactional purposes, certain countries are not liberal enough to do so. The liberal ones opine that writing on a currency note does not affect its primary function i.e. to act as a medium of economic transaction. But some notes contain hidden security features in them and governments advise citizens not to write on them.

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Countries That Have Made it Illegal to Write on Money

If you have a habit of displaying your artwork on currency notes, you may be in for a rude shock after reading this. There are a good number of countries that have made it illegal to write on money and your amateur artistry may land you up in a shambolic environment which no man desires to be in.

Countries like the USA and India have made it illegal to write on money. According to the Title 18 of the USC Sec 3, a person can be fined for writing on money bills and can be sent to prison for not more than six months. India’s Clean Note Policy has also made scribbling on money a punishable offense in recent times.

Other notable countries which have joined this list include the UK and Australia which have imposed strict fines for indulging in writing on currency notes.

Famous Cases of Illegally Writing on Money

There have been many instances where people have visited the courtroom for showing their doodling skills on currency notes. One such case is the Smith vs Goguen Case (1974) where the US Supreme Court declared a prison term of six months to Smith who had written something on a dollar bill and had tampered it as well.

Another noteworthy incident is that of Wooley vs Maynard (1977) where Wooley was sentenced to a prison term of a year for having written something controversial on a note. The scope of the act is much wider when it comes to coins and can be sentenced to a maximum of five years if found guilty, thereby making it illegal to write on money.


Every one of us must have been guilty of doing this in the past, but it is a serious crime and illegal to write on money (depending on your nationality), and the sooner we realize it, the better for us. Currency notes are a medium of economic transaction and not a notebook where we doodle our odd thoughts on it.

And if you ever wish to doodle or sketch something, how about getting yourself a sketchbook rather than a currency note to showcase how good an artist you are!

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FAQs on ‘Is it illegal to write on money?’

Is Drawing on Money Illegal?

It completely depends on the laws of your land. While some countries have made it illegal to scribble or draw on the money, other nations believe that writing on money does not reduce its value.

Is it illegal to write on money in Australia?

It is not illegal to write on money in Australia. Money is termed illegal only if it has been defaced, disfigured, or mutilated.

Is it illegal to write on money in Canada?

Writing on currency notes in Canada is not illegal. However, the Canadian government strictly advises its citizens to avoid writing on notes.

Is it illegal to write on money UK?

Yes, it is illegal to write on money in the UK. Writing on money could lead to paying a heavy fine or even a possible

is stamping money illegal?

Stamping on money is considered illegal in many countries and could lead to a possible jail term as well.

is it illegal to photograph money?

Yes, it is illegal to photograph money and it is strictly prohibited for commercial usage.