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While the federal government no longer issues federal Treasury bonds, including savings bonds, in a paper format, older certificates remain in circulation until the bond is redeemed. Some state and local governments and corporations, however, still issue bond certificates on paper. Should a paper certificate be damaged, lost or stolen, it's easier to get it reissued if you recorded the serial number when you first received it.
Bonds can be found in two formats: paper and electronic. Paper bonds are referred to as certificates and electronic bonds are called book-entry bonds. Paper certificates have serial numbers and book-entry bonds have electronic identifiers. As of Jan. 1, 2012, the U.S. Treasury Department no longer sells savings bonds as paper certificates. All Treasury Bonds are now issued electronically as book-entry bonds. Municipal, state and commercial bonds are issued in paper format at the discretion of the issuer.
Face of a Bond
Paper bonds are legal documents and convey important data. For instance, the U.S. Savings Bond is filled with information. The top left corner of the bond reveals the denomination, or face value, of the bond. The top right corner states the type of savings bond it is, such as a Series I, EE or E. Right below the series type is the date the bond was issued, and directly below that is the date the paper certificate was printed. The paper certificate also includes the name of the owner, her address and any co-owner of the certificate.
Although the face of a bond certificate and the data printed on it will vary, it almost always features a serial number. If the paper is lost, stolen or destroyed, the serial number, also known as the bond number, is an easy way to identify the bond and its owner so the certificate can be reissued. The serial number is located at the bottom right corner of a savings bond certificate.
Historically, all types of bonds were issued on paper. On an older or collectible bond, the location of the serial number will vary widely from issuer to issuer. Typically, the serial number is in one of the four corners of the certificate or placed along the border of the certificate right below the bond title. Sometimes the number is preceded by the abbreviation "No." or the word "Number." In some cases, the serial number is listed at the top center of the bond.
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- Treasury Direct: Claim for Lost, Stolen or Destroyed United States Savings Bonds
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