Design Features

  • Front image

    The main image on the front of all banknotes is of former President Nelson Mandela.

  • Reserve Bank Governor's signature

    On the front of all banknotes you will also see the South African Reserve Bank Governor’s signature.

  • Little dots

    On all banknotes you will see little dots. On the front of the banknote they are on the left and on the back they are on the right.

  • Coat of Arms

    The South African Coat of Arms is visible on the front of all banknotes in the top left corner as well as in the security thread.

  • Languages

    Afrikaans and siSwati – On every banknote you will find three languages – English on the front and a combination of two other official languages on the back. Each banknote has a different combination of languages. 

  • Back Image

    On the front of each banknote you will find a portrait of Nelson Mandela as an elder statesman. On the back is a portrait of a young Mandela, combined with important events from the former president’s life. R10: Mvezo – Time of birth. The lush greenery of the Eastern Cape represents where it all began – the birth of Nelson Mandela in 1918.

  • Flag design - secondary theme

    The secondary theme was inspired by the ‘V’ on our flag which represents South Africans coming together and moving into the future in unity. The South African flag was first flown on 10 May 1994 – the day Nelson Mandela became President.

  • Centenary wording

    Centenary wording has been added as a new feature. The words ‘Mandela Centenary 1918 – 2018’ are displayed on the front and back of each banknote, and on the back ‘Madiba’ can be found in large vertical print.


Security Features

  • Look


    When you hold a banknote up to the light, on the front left you will see an image of former President Nelson Mandela and the hidden denomination numeral of the banknote.

  • Look

    See-through perfect print registration (animal)

    Perfect print registration is where two parts of an image are printed on both sides of the banknote and line up perfectly. When you hold a banknote up to the light, you will see the complete ‘Big Five’ animal in the little circle on the front left.

  • Look


    The denomination numeral of each of the banknotes appears in micro-printing in the animals to the left of the image of former President Nelson Mandela. Micro-printing also appears in the designs on the back of the banknotes. This feature can best be seen using a magnifying glass.

  • Look

    Unique numbering

    A unique serial number is visible in two places on the back of each banknote. On the left it runs up the banknote (vertical). On the right it runs along the banknote (horizontal), getting bigger from left to right. The last letter of the serial number represents the denomination, from ‘A’ representing R10 to ‘E’ representing R200.

  • Look

    Security thread

    This security thread is a 4 mm wide strip, running from the top to the bottom of all banknotes. On the thread you will see the denomination value, an image of the Coat of Arms, and the words SARB and RAND. When you hold a banknote to the light, the security thread becomes a solid black line.

  • Feel

    Raised printing

    On the front of the banknote you can feel raised printing on former President Nelson Mandela’s image, the Coat of Arms and the words SOUTH AFRICAN RESERVE BANK. On the back you can feel it on the image of the young Mandela and on the unique numbering.

  • Feel

    Overall feel of the banknotes

    Banknotes have a distinctive crisp feel because of the unique material (substrate) and the raised print used for printing.

  • Feel

    Feature for the blind and visually impaired

    You can tell which banknote you are holding by counting the raised lines on the front left and right sides of each banknote. The number of lines indicates the value of the banknote. R10 : One raised line.

  • Tilt

    Security thread

    When the banknotes are tilted, the security thread will change to a different colour, which is different for each banknote denomination.

  • Tilt

    Colour-changing ink

    The denomination numerals are printed in SPARK® Live ink, which changes colour when the banknote is tilted. The ink also has a rolling-bar effect and a batik pattern (unique to Madiba’s shirts). R10: Green to magenta.

  • Tilt

    Hidden image (latent image)

    When a banknote is held almost horizontally to your eyes, a shadow image of the denomination numeral appears in the band below the image of former President Nelson Mandela on the front of the banknote and to the left of the image on the back.


Technical Features

  • Banknote material (substrate)

    Banknotes have a distinctive feel and make a unique sound when snapped between your fingers.

  • Banknote sizes

    R10: 70 mm x 128 mm. The bigger the denomination, the bigger the banknote. All banknotes are 70 mm high, but they increase in length by 6 mm as they increase in value.

  • Dominant denomination colours

    Each banknote has a dominant colour associated with it. R10: Green


Quality Features

  • Mutilated banknotes

    Banknotes are deemed mutilated when they are damaged. Examples of damage include holes, tears and taped or torn notes. These notes can be exchanged at dedicated commercial bank branches or the SARB Head Office. Refer to the SARB website for details.

  • Dye-stained banknotes

    Banknotes are stained during criminal activities. It is therefore assumed that any dye-stained banknotes are the proceeds of a crime for which no bank can give value. These notes should be handed in to the South African Police Service.