Everything you need to know about the new polymer £5 note

Which banknotes are changing, and when? Polymer-Bank-Note-Facebook-1200x628-2

The Bank of England is issuing a new Polymer (or plastic) £5 note which will enter circulation on 13 September, 2016. You’ll start to see the notes in the following days and weeks. Around 5,200 ATM’s dispense £5 notes and most are expected to switch to dispensing the new notes within the first month.

There will also be a new £10 note in Summer 2017, and a new £20 note by 2020. The current £50 note was issued in 2011 and there are currently no plans to replace it in the near future.

How will the new banknotes change?

The new £5, £10 and £20 notes will be printed on Polymer – a thin and flexible plastic material. This means that the new notes will be cleaner, safer and stronger than paper notes.

They will also feature added security features. The five pound note will feature:

  • A large see-through window containing an image of the queen and a foil Elizabeth Tower.
  • The Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben) is gold on the front and silver on the back.
  • The silver foil patch at the bottom of the tower has a hologram of the word ‘Five’ changing to the word ‘Pounds’.
  • The silver foil patch at the top of the tower has an image of the coronation crown which appears 3D.
  • Under ultra-violet light, the number 5 appears in bright red and green.

What size will the new banknotes be?

The new notes will be around 15% smaller than the current paper notes but will retain the traditional look of the existing notes, with a portrait of Her Majesty the Queen on the front, and a historic character on the back. The existing format of tiered sizing will be maintained, i.e. the higher the denomination, the longer the height and the length of the note.

Which historic characters will appear on the new banknotes?

Polymer-Bank-Notes-Characters-01The Polymer five pound note will feature Sir Winston Churchill, the ten pound note will feature Jane Austen and the twenty pound note will feature J.M.W. Turner.

What will happen to my old paper banknotes?

The paper notes will start to be withdrawn from circulation as the polymer notes are introduced. It is expected that by January 2017 more than half the £5 notes in circulation will have been switched for polymer notes.

You can continue to use the paper £5 note until legal tender status is withdrawn in May 2017.

What happens if I still have old notes after legal tender status has been withdrawn?

All Bank of England notes retain their face value for all time. If your bank, building society or Post Office is not willing to accept these notes then they can be exchanged with the Bank of England in London by post or in person.

Will I be able to use the polymer banknotes in the same way as paper?

Yes. Polymer notes can be used in the same way as paper notes. For example, they will be available from ATM’s and can be folded in a wallet. Brand new polymer notes can sometimes stick together, but this effect is short-lived once in use.

Why bother changing them?


The new notes are expected to last at least 2.5 times longer than the current paper notes. In 2015 21,835 notes were replaced due to damage from being torn, washed, contaminated, damaged and even chewed and eaten!

The new polymer material is resistant to dirt and moisture which means they will stay in a better condition for longer. Plus, when a polymer note reaches the end of its life, it will be recycled.

Will they be collectable?

Like any new issues, collectors will be keen to own the very first notes. Early serial numbers are likely to be more sought after – especially on good condition or uncirculated notes.

Mark the moment the £5 banknote changed forever…


Just 5,000 new UK Polymer £5 Notes have been reserved for a Limited Edition DateStamp™ release.

Click here to add one to your collection.


  1. Gaby willis on September 13, 2016 at 11:35 pm

    Should be Adramel lord Nelson on one of those new bank notes do you not think he deserves to be remembered

  2. Danny Hutton on September 11, 2016 at 9:53 am

    I don’t have a Bank of England locally .
    Can I order and receive by post ..?

    • Yasmin Britton on September 13, 2016 at 8:11 am

      Hi Danny, the new Polymer £5 banknotes will be available from most shops, banks and cash machines from today. Thanks, Yasmin

  3. Maz on September 4, 2016 at 9:16 am

    I’m fair certain that a shit load more than 21835 notes were replaced in 2015

    • Rob Jacks on September 7, 2016 at 6:03 pm

      Do we have to have language like this on the site?

  4. Martin Scrimgeour on September 3, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    Will the note tester pens work on the new polymer ones?

  5. DENNIS EVANS on September 2, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    Whats this i hear from my bank in bridgend ,the launch of the new £5 note has been delayed ,due to what i do not know

    • Yasmin Britton on September 13, 2016 at 8:14 am

      Hi Dennis, i’m not too sure. The new Polymer £5 banknote should be available from most shops, banks and cash machines from today. Hope this helps. Thanks, Yasmin