Bureau of Engraving and Printing Tours

This post will tell you all about how to tour the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, D.C. For more things to do on your visit to DC, check out our mater post here

 

From our DC Tourism Guide, with budget advice, travel guides, and information about local Washington DC attractions, including our Free Things to Do in DC.


ABOUT

The Burea of Engraving and Printing is one of only two places in America (the other is in Texas) where paper money is printed, not to be confused with the U.S. Mint. 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 are free, but you may need some determination to secure tickets during the peak tourism season.

For more free things to do in DC, we recommend checking out our post. We also encourage looking into purchasing a Tourism Discount Pass, which includes a lot of activities to do in DC for free. 


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.

 


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HOW TO GET TOUR TICKETS

Hours: Open Monday-Friday, 9am-2pm

Closed: Federal Holidays and Dec. 23- Jan. 2.

The process to obtain tickets varies depending on what time of year you are visiting:

September through February (No Tickets Required)

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. 


March through August (Tickets Required)


BEST TIME TO GO:

We recommend the 8:15 am to 8:45 slot so that you can take our 10 am National Mall/All in One Walking Tour afterward!

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),

Booth 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 the ticket booth and see if they have any tickets. You have to walk by the ticket booth anyway to get to the nearest Metro after our All in One tour that ends at the Jefferson Memorial.

 

Bureau BEP Ticket Booth

 

You may arrange special advance reservation tickets through your Member of Congress. These tours take place Monday-Friday at 8:15 am and 8:45 am from April through August, and every 15 minutes from 4 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.

Please contact your local United States Senator or Representative for more information.

 


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PLAN YOUR VISIT

In this section, we cover how to get to the tour entrance point, security and prohibited items, the cool gift shop and suggest other things to do either before or after your walking tour

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.

 

How to Get to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing Tours

 

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.


SECURITY CHECK

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.

 


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GIFT SHOP

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.

 

 


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THINGS TO DO NEARBY

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!

Our National Mall and All in One Walking tours start just down the street from where you exit the BEP on 15th Street. 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 All in One tour ends just around the Tidal Basin, about a 10-15 minute walk to get to the entrance!

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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 8:30am-4:30pm.
  • 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 11am-3pm and the entrance is on C Street SW about a block from the USHMM.

 


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REVIEWS OF THE BUREAU OF ENGRAVING AND PRINTING TOUR

  • 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 All in One walking tour, you have to walk by the ticket booth to get back to the Metro station so you can check in!

 


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About the author

Boglarka is a tour guide and content writer residing in Washington, DC. While obtaining her degree in Professional Writing from The University of Texas at San Antonio, she visited DC and went on her very first Free Tours by Foot. She loved it so much that when life brought her to DC she applied and has been part of FTBF since 2015. Working as a guide has given her the freedom to travel, including trips to the Bunny Island off Japan, snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, eating her way around Italy, hunting for the Loch Ness monster in Scotland, and finally seeing her first Broadway show in New York.

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