Polymer banknotes: guidance for businesses


Polymer banknotes are gradually replacing paper banknotes across the UK.

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

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.

Ulster Bank has issued new polymer £5 and £10 notes. A new £20 polymer banknote will enter circulation in 2020. Read more on Ulster Bank's polymer banknotes.

Danske Bank now has polymer £10 and £20 banknotes. Read more on Danske Bank's polymer banknotes.

Bank of Ireland has introduced polymer £5 and £10 banknotes. This will be followed by a £20 polymer banknote in 2020. Read more on Bank of Ireland's polymer banknotes.

Ulster Bank, Danske Bank and Bank of Ireland paper £5 and £10 banknotes were withdrawn from circulation on 30 September 2019. Banks will continue to exchange the old paper based notes. 

First Trust banknotes will cease to be legal currency from midnight on 30 June 2022. It will issue Bank of England notes through its ATM network instead. After 30 June 2022, any First Trust Bank branch will exchange First Trust Bank banknotes for Bank of England banknotes, or other sterling banknotes of equivalent value, free of charge. Read more on First Trust's banknotes.

Bank of England polymer banknotes

Bank of England polymer £5 and £10 notes have been in circulation for some time now. The old paper Bank of England £5 and £10 notes have been withdrawn and cease to be legal tender.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.

New polymer £20 notes were issued on 20 February 2020. Bank of England has not said yet when the paper £20 note will stop being legal tender but it will give six months' notice ahead of being withdrawn. 

Polymer £50 notes will enter circulation in 2021.

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.

Their polymer £5 and £10 notes are also in circulation. They have withdrawn their old paper £5 and £10 notes.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.

New polymer £20 notes were issued on 27 February 2020 by Bank of Scotland and Clydesdale Bank and on 5 March 2020 by Royal Bank of Scotland. All existing paper £20 notes will now be gradually withdrawn, but any in circulation will continue to be accepted at shops, banks and cash payment machines.

Read more about each of the new Scottish 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
  • ensure any old paper banknotes are exchanged 
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