Scottish and Northern Ireland banknotes

Only the Bank of England issues banknotes in England and Wales, but six banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland can also issue banknotes. Coins are manufactured and issued by the Royal Mint.


Three banks are authorised to issue banknotes in Scotland:

  • Bank of Scotland plc
  • Clydesdale Bank plc
  • The Royal Bank of Scotland plc.

Three banks are authorised to issue banknotes in Northern Ireland:

  • Bank of Ireland (UK) plc 
  • Northern Bank Limited (trades as Danske Bank)
  • National Westminster Bank plc (trades as Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland)

The Association of Commercial Banknote Issuers has more information on the six issuing banks.

AIB Group (UK) plc (previously trading as First Trust Bank in Northern Ireland) ceased issuing banknotes on 30 June 2020. Holders of these notes should exchange them with AIB as soon as possible. Information on where to exchange the notes is available on the AIB Banknotes page.

Backing assets

The six Scottish and Northern Ireland banks must, by law, set aside assets that are worth at least the value of all of the banknotes they have in circulation. This ensures that people with genuine banknotes issued by the six banks receive a level of protection similar to people who have genuine Bank of England banknotes. 

The assets can be a combination of Bank of England banknotes, UK coins and funds held in an account at the Bank of England. This means that, if one of the banks failed, the backing assets could be used to reimburse everyone who has one of its banknotes. 

Bank of England banknotes held as backing assets may be kept either at an authorised location or at the Bank of England. Some of these banknotes are of very high value, including £1 million banknotes (known as Giants) and £100 million banknotes (known as Titans).

How we regulate Scottish and Northern Ireland banknotes

In short, we are responsible for checking if the six Scottish and Northern Ireland banks that issue banknotes are complying with the asset-backing rules. We have a published approach to regulating Scottish and Northern Ireland banknotes.

Approach document

We do this by collecting regular information and visiting the places where the assets are stored to count them and check they are held securely. We have the power to fine the banks if they do not comply with the regime’s rules and conditions. You can read more about how we use this power in the Scottish and Northern Ireland Banknote Issuance Annual Report.

2023 report
We are not responsible for the design of banknotes from the six banks, or how well they resist counterfeiting.

We have also published information about our enforcement powers relating to Scottish and Northern Ireland banknotes in the Bank of England Approach to Enforcement.

Whistleblowing and Scottish and Northern Ireland banknotes

Whistleblowing is when an employee reports suspected wrongdoing at work. The Bank of England is a 'prescribed person;, which means that you can make a whistleblowing disclosure about the Scottish and Northern Ireland banknote regime to us instead of your employer. This is generally referred to as 'making a disclosure in the public interest'. An employee can report things that are not right, are illegal or if anyone at work is neglecting their duties, including:

  • someone’s health and safety is in danger
  • damage to the environment
  • a criminal offence
  • the company is not obeying the law
  • covering up wrongdoing.

We encourage employees of the Scottish and Northern Ireland issuing banks and their approved agents to first use the whistleblowing procedures available in their workplace. If there are not any, or if you do not feel able to do so, you can contact us on +44 (0)20 3461 8703 during office hours. Alternatively, you can email us at or write to: IAWB Team, Legal Directorate, Bank of England, Threadneedle Street, London EC2R 8AH.

Disclosures made to us will be dealt with by a dedicated whistleblowing function.

This page was last updated 30 January 2024