The Bank of England will be withdrawing legal tender status of the paper £20 and £50 notes after 30 September 2022.
There are approximately £9 billion worth of paper £20 and £15 billion worth of paper £50 notes still in circulation. As they are returned to the Bank of England, these are being replaced with the new polymer £20 notes featuring J.M.W. Turner, and polymer £50 notes featuring Alan Turing. After 30 September 2022, the new polymer notes will be the only ones with legal tender status.
The Bank of England are encouraging anyone who has these at home to spend or deposit them at their bank or Post Office well ahead of next September. Nevertheless, businesses should expect to receive paper £20 and £50 notes right up to the final date, so make sure any employees handling cash stay trained on how to check these.
After 30 September 2022, businesses (and individuals) with a UK bank account will still be able to deposit withdrawn notes into their account. Some Post Offices may also accept withdrawn notes as payment for goods and services or as a deposit to an account accessed via them.
The Bank of England will continue to exchange all withdrawn notes. For more information on this please see the Bank of England website.
How to check paper £20 and £50 notes
Using the following key security features will allow you to identify genuine Bank of England paper £20 and £50 notes. Free training materials covering both these and our polymer notes can be downloaded or ordered from our website.
- £20 hologram image change. Look for the hologram image change on the foil strip on the front of the paper £20 note. Tilt the note from side to side and check the images change between a ‘£’ symbol and the number ’20’.
- £50 motion thread image change. Look for the green motion thread image change on the front of the paper £50 note. Tilt the note up and down or side to side and check the images change between a ‘£’ symbol and the number ’50’.
- Bright ‘£20’/’£50’ in the watermark. Hold the paper note up to the light. Check there is a bright ‘£20’ or ‘£50’ (depending on the denomination) at the top of the Queen’s portrait.
Scottish & Northern Ireland banknotes
- Like the Bank of England, Bank of Scotland and Royal Bank of Scotland have issued new polymer £50 notes. Both of these issuers, as well as Clydesdale Bank, will withdraw their paper £20 and £50 banknotes on the same date as the Bank of England, i.e. 30 September 2022.
- For more information about Scottish and Northern Ireland notes, please visit: https://www.acbi.org.uk/banknotes.html.
What should I do with counterfeit notes?
The Bank of England often get asked what businesses should do with a counterfeit note. The National Crime Agency has worked with the Bank of England to set out when and how to contact the police, as well as the evidence that can enable an effective police response, including how to handle a suspected counterfeit. Their advice is set out in the one-page document accompanying this newsletter.