Guide

Polymer banknotes: guidance for businesses

The Bank of England, the three banks in Scotland and the Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland are replacing paper banknotes with polymer notes.

Polymer banknotes are made from transparent plastic film coated with a layer of ink. The material allows clear portions on the design, which is difficult to counterfeit.

Polymer notes:

  • stay cleaner for longer than paper notes as they are resistant to dirt and moisture
  • are more secure as it is harder to create realistic fake notes
  • last longer than paper notes and are more durable

Bank of England polymer banknotes

Bank of England polymer £5 and £10 notes are already in circulation. New polymer £20 notes will be issued by 2020

The old paper Bank of England £5 and £10 notes have been withdrawn and cease to be legal tender. However, you can exchange them at the Bank of England. 

Find further information on Bank of England polymer banknotes.

Polymer banknotes in Scotland

The three banks authorised to issue banknotes in Scotland are Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale Bank and Royal Bank of Scotland.

They are all now printing their £5 and £10 notes on polymer and plan to issue polymer £20 notes on similar timescales to the Bank of England.

They have also withdrawn their old paper £5 and £10 notes. However, they will continue to accept all Scottish notes from their own customers - these can be deposited into bank accounts or exchanged for polymer notes.

Read more about each of the new Scottish polymer banknotes.

Polymer banknotes in Northern Ireland

The four banks authorised to issue banknotes in Northern Ireland are Ulster Bank, Bank of Ireland, Danske Bank and First Trust Bank.

So far, only Ulster Bank has announced that it will issue new polymer £5 and £10 notes in 2019.

Existing Ulster Bank £5 and £10 notes will remain in circulation until 2019, when they will be withdrawn.

Read more on Ulster Bank's polymer banknotes.

What does my business need to do?

Your business should make the following considerations:

  • adapt any cash handling equipment to accept the new polymer notes – you may need to contact the manufacturer
  • train staff on the new polymer notes and the withdrawal of paper notes