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When you’re looking to buy a secondhand Chanel handbag, or even sell or consign your own, understanding how Chanel authenticates its handbags is crucial. Authentic Chanel serial numbers and date stamps follow a unique identifying system which can be used to establish if the bag is a true Chanel.

Below we uncover the history behind Chanel’s serial numbers, how to correctly identify a bag, and also how Chanel has recently updated their authenticating system. So whether you’re looking to buy or sell, this guide can help you understand how Chanel’s serial numbers work.

Why does Chanel use serial numbers?

It’s all about countering the counterfeits. As the Chanel brand grew into the iconic French powerhouse it is today, the number of fake bags and counterfeiters also rose.

As such an iconic brand, the number of counterfeited bags began to have a noticeable effect on the reputation and exclusivity of the brand. So an authentication system was needed.

4 pillars in front of a Chanel window display.
Chanel Barcelona | Photo by Enric / Wikimedia Commons

The original Chanel serial numbers

In 1986, Chanel introduced its first set of authenticating serial number stickers and cards.

Within the interior of each bag, there is a unique 7-8 digit code (occasionally 6 digits on older bags) on a sticker that’s fixed to the lining, flap or a leather tag. This code identifies the bag itself (not the style or model) and also the year in which the bag was created.

The year is usually represented with the first two digits, then the remaining numbers are a unique combination code that is unique to that single bag or item.

In 1986, the serial codes began with a zero, followed by 6 additional numbers — for example, “0XXXXXX”. As another example, bag codes created between 2008 – 2009 would use “12XXXXXX”

A split image showing the serial number in two different bags. The left on a white sticker in a red leather lining reads 3414384. The right on a dark burgundy leather reads 2259053, this bag was created between 1991 and 1994.
A Chanel serial number from 1994-1996 and 1991-1994

Authenticity cards

These stickers were also paired with an authenticity card, which presented a matching, embossed serial code. Together they would provide the authenticity of the handbag.

The authenticity card is usually a black plastic card with contrasting white text and a gold line border.

When dating a Chanel bag, this coding system is useful in being able to pinpoint the year the bag was created. This helps when determining whether a bag can be officially classed as vintage.

A light, mustard-yellow coloured wallet sits next to a black Chanel authentication card.
A pre-loved Chanel wallet from Timeless Vintage with its authentication card

Updating the serial number system

Over the last few decades, the official authenticating system has been consistently tweaked and improved. This can make the process of identifying a Chanel bag reasonably complicated, as each year or two the appearance of the serial code alters slightly.

Although complex, by updating the date code system, and also applying stylistic changes to the date code label itself, it became much more difficult for counterfeiters to replicate original bags with a copycat serial number.

Generally, the main difference is the change in the first two digits of the serial number, which will reflect the year the bag was created. Another significant change came in 2005 when serial numbers moved from 7 digits to 8.

A white-clothed hand shows a small white label with a code reading 6990494.
A Chanel serial number on a bag that was created between 2000 and 2002.

A list of the Chanel serial numbers 1986-2020

Below we’ve created a table which outlines the Chanel serial number changes, from 1986 until 2021, when the new Chanel authentication plaques were introduced.

Manufacturing YearSerial Number (Date Code)Identifying sticker and/or card features
1986 – 19880XXXXXX (or 1XXXXX, 2XXXXX)Larger than the following serial number stickers.
1989 – 19911XXXXXXWhite sticker with CC logo in a repeat pattern. Opaque film.
1991 – 19942XXXXXXThe number 1’s are in a serif font (with serifs and ‘feet’).
1994 – 19963XXXXXXThe number 1’s are in a san-serif font (without serifs or ‘feet’).
1996 – 19974XXXXXXSimilar characteristics to 1994 – 1996.
1997 – 19995XXXXXXThe later serial numbers (beginning with 57, 58 and 59) have a serif font on the 1’s. The transparent tape covering the sticker features the Chanel logo vertically on the right-hand side and a dark vertical line on the left-hand side.
2000 – 20026XXXXXXThe sticker features a small X which makes removal of the sticker impossible without damage. The number is printed below the CC logo on a white sticker and covered with transparent tape flecked with iridescent gold. Each zero has a slash through it.
2002 – 20037XXXXXXSimilar characteristics to 2000-2002.
2003 – 20048XXXXXXSimilar characteristics to 2000-2002.
2004 – 20059XXXXXXSimilar characteristics to 2000-2002.
2005 – 200610XXXXXXSimilar characteristics to 2000-2002.
2006 – 200811XXXXXXSimilar characteristics to 2000-2002.
2008 – 200912XXXXXXSimilar characteristics to 2000-2002.
2009 – 201013XXXXXXSimilar characteristics to 2000-2002.
2010 – 201114XXXXXXSimilar characteristics to 2000-2002.
201115XXXXXXSimilar characteristics to 2000-2002.
201216XXXXXXSimilar characteristics to 2000-2002.
2012 – 201317XXXXXXSimilar characteristics to 2000-2002.
2013 – 201418XXXXXXSimilar characteristics to 2000-2002.
201419XXXXXXSimilar characteristics to 2000-2002.
2014 – 201520XXXXXXSimilar characteristics to 2000-2002.
2015 – 201621XXXXXXSimilar characteristics to 2000-2002.
2016 – 201722XXXXXXSimilar characteristics to 2000-2002.
201723XXXXXXSimilar characteristics to 2000-2002.
2017 – 201824XXXXXXSimilar characteristics to 2000-2002.
201825XXXXXXSimilar characteristics to 2000-2002.
2018 – 201926XXXXXXSimilar characteristics to 2000-2002.
201927XXXXXX, 28XXXXXX, 29XXXXXXSimilar characteristics to 2000-2002.
202030XXXXXXSimilar characteristics to 2000-2002.

Every single handbag, wallet or purse has its own unique, 7 (or 8) digit combination code.

A Chanel serial number from 2017

The new Chanel authentication plaques

Over the years, counterfeit factories have been able to match the handbags and authenticity cards with such detail, that Chanel needed a new approach. So in 2021, Chanel furthered their attempts to limit counterfeiters by adding a small, microchip identification plaque to all new handbags.

Instead of an identifying date code, each bag will now feature its own Chanel plaque and unique alphanumeric code, consisting of 8 letters and numbers. Coin purses, card holders and other smaller leather items, however, will continue using the serial number and authenticity card system.

A close-up of a gold plaque attached to a dark textured lining. The plaque is rectangular, smooth and has rounded edges. The interlocking CC logo is large, with an 8 digit code reading, K5J1X06A underneath.
Chanel authentication plate in gold

Knowing how to spot a fake Chanel bag is crucial when browsing physical secondhand shops or online marketplaces with individual sellers. To ensure your new Chanel bag is genuine, we recommend purchasing a secondhand Chanel bag from a reputable online pre-loved seller with an authenticity guarantee.

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