Only 1 week left to use your paper £20 and £50 banknotes

This is the last week that our paper banknotes can still be used.
Published on 23 September 2022

News release

This is the last week that our paper banknotes can still be used.

The Bank of England will be withdrawing legal tender status of paper £20 and £50 banknotes after 30 September 2022. After this date businesses will no longer be accepting these banknotes as payment.

All polymer banknotes carrying a portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II remain legal tender, and the public can continue to use these as normal. A further announcement regarding existing Bank of England banknotes will be made once the period of Royal mourning has been observed.

After 30 September 2022 you will not be able to use paper banknotes. However the following options will remain available:

  • If you have a UK bank account, you will normally still be able to deposit them at your bank, or into your account at a Post Office.
  • You can exchange certain withdrawn paper banknotes for polymer notes at a limited number of Post Office branches. This is a new service, and the full list of branches is on our website.
  • You can exchange withdrawn banknotes with the Bank of England, including by post.

Although the majority of paper £20 and £50 banknotes in circulation have been replaced with new polymer versions, there are still over £5 billion worth of paper £20 featuring the economist Adam Smith, and nearly £6 billion worth of paper £50 banknotes featuring the engineers Boulton and Watt, in circulation. That’s more than 250 million individual £20 banknotes, and more than 110 million paper £50 banknotes.footnote [1]

Notes to editors

  1. Images of Bank of England banknotes can be found on the Bank’s Flickr site.
  2. The Smith and Boulton and Watt notes are being withdrawn under authority given to the Bank by virtue of Section 1 (5) of the Currency and Banknotes Act 1954.
  3. 'Legal tender' means that if a debtor pays in legal tender the exact amount they owe under the terms of a contract, they have a good defence in law if they are subsequently sued for non-payment of the debt. In practice, the concept of 'legal tender' does not govern the acceptability of banknotes as a means of payment. This is essentially a matter for agreement between the parties involved.
  4. Paper £20 notes started to be withdrawn from circulation on 20 February 2020, when the polymer £20 entered circulation. Paper £50 notes started to be withdrawn on 23 June 2021, when the polymer £50 note entered circulation. Therefore there has been less time to withdraw these paper £50 notes, and more remain in circulation relative to the paper £20 notes.
  5. Paper £20 and £50 notes issued by Clydesdale Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland and Bank of Scotland will also be withdrawn after 30 September 2022, and these issuing authorities have advised retailers and the public to spend or deposit these notes by that date as well. The paper £20 notes issued by Bank of Ireland (UK) plc, AIB Group (UK) plc, Northern Bank Limited (trades as Danske Bank), and National Westminster Bank plc (trades as Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland) will also be withdrawn after 30 September 2022, and retailers and the public are also being advised to spend or deposit these notes ahead of the deadline.
  6. Turner was revealed as the character for the £20 note in April 2016. The selection of Turner is the first time the Bank of England has used the more open and transparent character selection process announced in December 2013. The process began in early 2015 with the formation of the Banknote Character Advisory Committee which as its first act selected the visual arts field. This was followed by a two month nomination period in summer 2015 during which members of the public could suggest a figure from the visual arts. The Bank received 29,701 nominations covering 590 eligible characters. The Committee, with input from public focus groups, then produced a shortlist which it discussed in detail with the Governor who made the final decision.
  7. Turing was revealed as the character for the £50 note in July 2019. Alan Turing was chosen following the Bank’s character selection process including advice from scientific experts. In 2018, the Banknote Character Advisory Committee chose to celebrate the field of science on the £50 note and this was followed by a six week public nomination period. The Bank received a total of 227,299 nominations, covering 989 eligible characters. The Committee considered all the nominations before deciding on a shortlist of 12 options, which were put to the then Governor Mark Carney for him to make the final decision.
  8. Old series Bank of England notes can be presented for exchange either in person at the Bank’s premises in London, or sent by post (at the sender’s risk) to: Dept NEX, Bank of England, Threadneedle Street, London EC2R 8AH. For further details, please see the Bank of England website.
  9. Images of current and withdrawn banknotes can be found on our website.
  1. 257 million paper £20 banknotes with a value of £5.1 billion (as of 9 September 2022), and 118 million paper £50 with a value of £5.9 billion (as of 9 September 2022) remain in circulation.