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100 days left to use paper £20 and £50 notes

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

There are just 100 days left to spend or swap paper £20 and £50 notes before they lose their legal tender status.

These paper notes will be withdrawn from circulation after 30 September 2022 so you will no longer be able to spend them.

Up until then, both the polymer and paper £20 and £50 notes can be used, but shoppers are encouraged to spend or swap the old notes at a bank or Post Office.

The Bank of England said while the majority of paper £20 and £50 banknotes in circulation have been replaced with new polymer versions, there are still over £6bn worth of paper £20 featuring the economist Adam Smith, and over £8bn worth of paper £50 banknotes featuring the engineers Boulton and Watt, in circulation.

That’s more than 300 million individual £20 banknotes, and 160 million paper £50 banknotes.

Chief cashier at the Bank of England, Sarah John, said “Changing our banknotes from paper to polymer over recent years has been an important development, because it makes them more difficult to counterfeit, and means they are more durable.

“The majority of paper banknotes have now been taken out of circulation, but a significant number remain in the economy, so we’re asking you to check if you have any at home. For the next 100 days, these can still be used or deposited at your bank in the normal way.”

Paper £20 notes started to be withdrawn from circulation on 20 February 2020, when the polymer £20 featuring J.M.W. Turner entered circulation.

Paper £50 notes started to be withdrawn on 23 June 2021, when the polymer £50 note featuring Alan Turing entered circulation.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.

All denominations – £5, £10, £20 and £50 are now printed on polymer.

After 30 September paper notes can be deposited into customer bank accounts. Some Post Offices may also accept withdrawn notes as payment for goods and services or as a deposit to an account accessed via them. The Bank of England will continue to exchange all withdrawn notes.