This post will tell you all about how to tour the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, D.C.
For years this was a common attraction that I took school groups to visit. They closed to the public in 2020 and only quietly reopened in the fall of 2023.
I love the BEP tours and museum and think it's one of the more fun options of things to do in DC with kids - as long as you go at the right time of time of day!
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is one of only two places in America (the other is in Texas) where paper money is printed. Don't confuse this with the U.S. Mint! There is no US Mint in DC.
The BEP is open for guided tours where you can see the process of how American currency is printed, secured from counterfeiting, and destroyed.
Tickets for the tour are free, but you may need some determination to secure tickets during the peak tourism season.
WHAT IS ON THE TOUR
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing offers free 40-minute long tours.
Once through security, there are some small exhibits to peruse before they begin the tour with a short film. There are benches to sit and watch the introductory film.
You will then have a docent-led tour through the facility. The walk-through tour is in galleries above the factory floor. As it's a working federal building, you'll see the money actually being made - printed, cut, and counted as you work your way through.
The docent will explain what you are seeing and offer some fun facts about US currency and in some places guests say you can even smell the cold hard cash!
You'll learn a lot about the process but don't expect to get all the tips of the trade as photographs are not allowed on the tour.
When you finish the tour, the docent sends you to exit through the gift shop.
Hours: Tours run Monday - Friday 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 2 p.m.
Closed: Federal Holidays and the end of year Dec. 22, 2023- Jan. 2, 2024
As the BEP reopens, tickets are available on a walk up basis only OR by going through your congressperson.
With the exception of occasional busy weeks (like Thanksgiving or Presidents' Day Weekend) tickets are not required and you can just show up at the Visitors Entrance for admission.
BEST TIME TO GO:
Reviews suggest avoiding lunchtime tickets - when the workers on the floor are on their lunch break and less will be going on for you to see.
WHEN TO LINE UP FOR TICKETS:
You can get same-day tickets at the ticket booth, located at Raoul Wallenberg Place (formerly 15th ST, SW) (map), - the ticket booth remains closed until March 2024. You can get tickets at the regular entrance on 14th Street.
Tickets opens at 8:00 a.m. and closes when all tickets have been distributed for the day. Queues during peak season begin to form before 8 am for the early tickets.
In peak season (March-June, and near holiday weekends) people begin lining up around 7:30 am for the 8 am ticket opening.
If you have a specific time that day that you want to get tickets for, you'll need to be near the front of the line. If you don't mind what time you get a tour, don't worry if you're not the first person.
Even on busy days, you may find tickets still available at 10:30 am but they tend to be the last tours of the day - around 5:30 pm.
TIP: The whole group does NOT need to be there to get tickets. You can send one person to get up to 4 tickets.
If you'll be in the area already, just stop by and see if they have any tickets.
You may arrange special advance reservation tickets through your Member of Congress.
A limited number of tours are available Monday through Friday at the following times (ET): 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 2 p.m.
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing Tours and Visitor Center’s entrance is located at 14th Street near C Street, SW.
We recommend that you use this Google map link for directions from anywhere in Washington, DC.
The nearest Metro Station is Smithsonian (Blue/Orange/Silver lines).
From the Independence Ave exit, you just need to head straight out of the exit along Independence Ave SW until 14th Street.
Cross the street and turn left. The BEP entrance will be just past the Holocaust Memorial Museum on your right.
All DC hop-on-hop-off bus tours have stops very near the Bureau of Engraving tour entrance.
Just like most places in DC, you will have to enter through security. Be prepared to arrive 15 minutes prior to your ticketed time. Late arrivals will often not be admitted.
- No weapons or sharp objects.
- Cameras and Electronics are allowed but photography is prohibited inside the building.
- Strollers are allowed into the building but not on the tour.
Want to purchase a (fake) $100,000 bill? Or a bill from the year you were born?
Then you need to visit the gift shop at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is located at the end of the tour!
You can visit the gift shop without tickets or going on a tour!
The entrance is located at the back of the building on Raoul Wallenberg Place (15th Street NW). You'll see an imposing set of stairs and the entrance between the columns. Simply let the security officer know that you just want to visit the gift shop.
It is an easy walk from the Smithsonian Metro Station. Exit from the Independence Ave side and walk straight until 15th Street and turn left.
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is a popular attraction and located is close to the National Mall.
We have a number of suggestions for things to do nearby.
Take a Walking Tour!
We will often have a tour to coincide with your visit to the Bureau.
If you end up with an afternoon reservation for BEP, note that our National Mall and Tidal Basin tour ends just around the Tidal Basin, about a 10-15 minute walk to get to the entrance!
Visit the US Holocaust Memorial Memorial
It's right next door! Read our post on how to get Tickets to the Holocaust Museum
Grab a Bite to Eat:
There is a cafe outside the USHMM on the 15th Street (Group Entrance) side. This is the same side you exit the BEP from.
You will have to go through security to get into the cafe but you do not need tickets or reservations to the museum to visit the cafe as they are separate buildings.
The cafe has both hot and cold food and is open 8:30 am - 4:30 pm.
A hidden gem when it comes to cafeterias in DC is the Department of Agriculture.
Now, we understand that going to a federal building's office cafeteria might not be high on your list but this one is an exception.
The food is great and not too expensive and you'll see some amazing WWII era art along the way. All you need to enter the building is a photo ID and you'll get a visitor's badge.
Lunch is 11 am - 3 pm and the entrance is on C Street SW about a block from the USHMM.
- Recommended for families with kids and anyone interested in money
- NOT recommended for those with limited time
Visitors have consistently given BEP tours a good rating. Many guests say it's an interesting experience but only if you have extra time. It doesn't seem to be at the top of anyone's list.
It is a very popular experience for younger visitors.
Families with kids usually give it 5 out of 5 stars - it's a short tour so good for those with short attention spans and you get to walk through the factory to see the machines making the money which is always a highlight for children.
Most negative experiences stem from people who had to wait a long time for tickets and then didn't think the tour was worth the wait.
A common tip is to walk by the ticket booth if you're in the area and if there are tickets available, go in then rather than planning your trip around the visit.
If you're taking our National Mall and Tidal Basin tour, you have to walk by the ticket booth to get back to the Metro station so you can check in!