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This is where they literally show you the money: A staff of about 1,172 works round-the-clock Monday through Friday churning it out at the rate of about $300 million a day. Everyone’s eyes pop as they walk past rooms overflowing with new greenbacks. But the money’s not the whole story. The bureau prints security documents for other federal government agencies, including military IDs and passport pages.
A 40-minute guided tour begins with a short introductory film. Large windows allow you to see what goes into making paper money: designing, inking, engraving, stacking of bills, cutting, and examining for defects. The process combines traditional, old-world printing techniques with the latest technology to create counterfeit-proof currency. Additional exhibits display bills no longer in circulation and a $100,000 bill designed for official transactions. (Since 1969 the largest-denomination bill issued for the general public is $100.)
After you finish the tour, allow time to explore the visitor center, open from 8:30am to 7pm, with additional exhibits and a gift shop, where you can buy bags of shredded money, uncut sheets of currency in different denominations, and copies of historic documents, such as a hand-engraved replica ($200) of the Declaration of Independence.
Ticket Tips: Many people line up each day to get a peek at all the moolah, so arrive early, especially during the peak tourist season. To avoid a line, consider securing VIP, also called “congressional,” tour tickets from one of your senators or congresspersons; e-mail or call at least 3 months in advance. Tours take place April through August at 8:15 and 8:45am, and between 4 and 4:45pm.
Tickets for general-public tours are generally not required from September to February; simply find the visitors' entrance at 14th and C streets. March through August, however, every person taking the tour must have a ticket. To obtain one, go to the ticket booth on the Raoul Wallenberg (formerly 15th St.) side of the building. You’ll receive a ticket specifying a tour time for that same day and be directed to the 14th Street entrance. You’re allowed as many as four tickets per person. The ticket booth opens at 8am and closes when all tickets are dispersed for the day. Note: Renovation of the building through most of 2019 will affect touring procedures, but tours will continue, so check the website before your visit for the latest information.