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LEGAL TENDER WITHDRAWN: Can I still accept paper banknotes?

Updated: Oct 12, 2022

Image credit: Bank of England (Flickr)

The Bank of England withdrew the legal tender status of paper £20 and £50 banknotes on 30 September 2022. After this date businesses will no longer be accepting these banknotes as payment.

All polymer banknotes carrying a portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II remain legal tender, and the public can continue to use these as normal.

After 30 September 2022 the public will not be able to use paper banknotes, however, the following options will remain available:

  • If you have a UK bank account, you will normally still be able to deposit them at your bank, or into your account at a Post Office.

  • You can exchange certain withdrawn paper banknotes for polymer notes at a limited number of Post Office branches. This is a new service, and the full list of branches is on the Bank of England website.

  • You can exchange withdrawn banknotes with the Bank of England, including by post.

Although the majority of paper £20 and £50 banknotes in circulation have been replaced with new polymer versions, there are still over £5 billion worth of paper £20 featuring the economist Adam Smith, and nearly £6 billion worth of paper £50 banknotes featuring the engineers Boulton and Watt, in circulation. That’s more than 250 million individual £20 banknotes, and more than 110 million paper £50 banknotes.

The Bank of England will reveal images of updated banknotes featuring a portrait of HM King Charles III by the end of this year. The notes are expected to enter circulation by mid-2024.

His Majesty’s portrait will appear on existing designs of all four polymer banknotes (£5, £10, £20 and £50). This will be a continuation of the current polymer series and no additional changes to the banknote designs will be made.

In line with guidance from the Royal Household to minimise the environmental and financial impact of the change of monarch, existing stocks of notes featuring HM Queen Elizabeth II will continue to be issued into circulation. New notes will only be printed to replace worn banknotes and to meet any overall increase in demand for banknotes.

Current banknotes featuring the portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II will continue to be legal tender and will only be removed from circulation once they become worn or damaged. They will co-circulate with those featuring HM King Charles III.


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