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LEGAL TENDER: Can taxi drivers accept and reject old banknotes as payment?

With the evolution of currency, it can sometimes be challenging to keep up with the ever-changing banknotes, especially when travelling abroad.

This has led to confusion amongst both locals and tourists alike when it comes to using old banknotes as payment for various services, including taxi fares.

In the UK, taxi drivers have the right to refuse old banknotes, but many still accept them and find ways to exchange or deposit them into their bank accounts. In this article, we explore the current situation regarding the acceptance of old banknotes by UK taxi drivers, as well as the recent changes and security features to be aware of.

Changes in Banknotes:

Over the past few years, there have been significant changes to UK banknotes, particularly the £20 and £10 denominations. The old-style £20 notes, featuring the portrait of economist Adam Smith, ceased to be legal tender on 30 June 2020. These notes were replaced by the new polymer £20 notes, which depict the esteemed artist J.M.W. Turner. Similarly, the previous £10 notes, featuring writer Charles Darwin, were replaced by the current polymer notes featuring author Jane Austen, and ceased to be legal tender on 1 March 2018.

Security Features to Look For:

To ensure the validity of banknotes, it's essential to be aware of the security features embedded in the new polymer notes. These features not only help taxi drivers verify the legitimacy of the currency but also educate passengers.

1. Holograms: The holographic strip on the banknote changes colours when tilted, displaying different images or patterns.

2. Polymer Material: The new banknotes are made of polymer, which makes them more durable and resistant to counterfeiting.

3. Raised Print: On the new notes, certain elements, such as the words "Bank of England" and the number in the bottom-right corner, have a raised texture, allowing both visual and tactile verification.

4. Windowed Thread: An embedded thread features a Queen's portrait and changes from purple to green when viewed under ultraviolet light, ensuring an added layer of security.

5. Microlettering: Tiny letters appear on the banknotes and can be observed using a magnifying glass. For example, the microletters on the new £20 notes spell out words from Turner's iconic painting "The Fighting Temeraire".

Acceptance of Old Banknotes:

While UK taxi drivers have the right to refuse old banknotes, many still accept them as payment and find ways to exchange them. Drivers often deposit the old banknotes into their bank accounts, as most banks still accept them even after they have been withdrawn from legal tender.

Alternatively, taxi drivers may exchange the old banknotes at their local bank branch or designated exchange points.

However, it's important to note that taxi drivers are not obligated to accept old banknotes that are no longer legal tender. To avoid any inconvenience, it is highly recommended for passengers, particularly tourists, to ensure they possess the latest versions of banknotes before embarking on their taxi journey.


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