This is where they will literally show you the money. A staff of 2,200 works round-the-clock, Monday through Friday, churning it out at the rate of about $750 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.
Many people line up each day to get a peek at all the moola, so arrive early, especially during the peak tourist season.
To save time and avoid a line, consider securing VIP, also called "congressional," tour tickets from your senator or congressperson; write or call at least 3 months in advance for tickets. These tours take place at 8:15am and 8:45am year-round, with additional tours added in the summer.
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 a ticket, go to the ticket booth on the Raoul Wallenberg (formerly 15th St.) side of the building and show a valid photo ID. You will receive a ticket specifying a tour time for that same day and be directed to the 14th Street entrance of the bureau. You are allowed as many as eight tickets per person. The ticket booth opens at 8am and closes when tickets sell out for the day.
The 45-minute guided tour begins with a short introductory film. Large windows allow you to see what goes into making of paper money: the inking, stacking of bills, cutting, and examination for defects. Most printing here is done from engraved steel plates in a process known as intaglio; it's the hardest to counterfeit, because the slightest alteration will cause a noticeable change in the portrait in use. Additional exhibits display bills no longer in circulation and a $100,000 bill designed for official transactions. (Since 1969, the largest denomination printed for the general public is $100.)
After you finish the tour, allow time to explore the Visitor Center, open from 8:30am to 3:30pm (until 7:30pm in summer), 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 such historic documents as the Gettysburg Address.
- © Frommer's 2013
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Ask Washington DC Locals about Bureau of Engraving & Printing
- visit website
- tel: 800/874-2330
- 14th and C Sts. SW
- Washington, DC 20024
- Tour Hours: (Sept-Mar) every 15 minutes between 9am-10:45am and 12:30pm-2pm; (Apr-Aug) every 15 minutes between 9am-10:45am and 12:30pm-3:45pm and 5pm-7pm
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