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 (AIB).

  • Ulster Bank has issued polymer £5, £10, £20 and £50 notes.
  • Bank of Ireland has issued polymer £5, £10 and £20 notes.
  • Danske Bank has issued polymer £10 and £20 banknotes.

Banks will continue to exchange the old paper based notes. 

Read more on polymer banknotes in Northern Ireland.

First Trust (AIB) banknotes ceased to be legal currency on 30 June 2022. Branches in Northern Ireland 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 The old paper Bank of England £5 and £10 notes have been withdrawn and cease to be legal tender.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 and polymer £50 notes were issued on 23 June 2021.

Bank of England has said that 30 September 2022 is the last day paper £20 and £50 notes can be used and from that date many banks will accept withdrawn notes as deposits from customers. 

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.

  • Bank of Scotland has issued polymer £5, £10, £20, £50 and £100 notes.
  • Clydesdale Bank has issued polymer £5, £10 and £20 notes.
  • Royal Bank of Scotland has issued polymer £5, £10, £20 and £50 notes.

The banks 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 Scottish polymer banknotes.