Millions of pounds of paper banknotes are to lose their legal tender status this year, the Bank of England has confirmed. Old style £20 and £50 notes will be redundant from September 30, suffering the same fate as the £5 and £10 notes which were replaced by polymer versions in recent years.
There are approximately £9 billion worth of paper £20 and £15 billion worth of paper £50 notes still in circulation. As they are returned to the Bank of England, these are being replaced with the new polymer £20 notes featuring J.M.W. Turner, and polymer £50 notes featuring Alan Turing. After 30 September 2022, the new polymer notes will be the only ones with legal tender status.
After 30 September 2022 people with a UK bank account will still be able to deposit withdrawn notes into their account. Some Post Offices may also accept withdrawn notes as payment for goods and services or as a deposit to an account accessed via them.
The new polymer £20 was first issued on 20 February 2020, and the polymer £50 note was first issued on 23 June 2021.
These notes complete the Bank of England’s first polymer series. The introduction of polymer banknotes allows for a new generation of security features which make them even harder to counterfeit. The notes are also resistant to dirt and moisture and so remain in better condition for longer. These notes also have tactile features that allow the blind and partially sighted to use them.