Why the new Northern Ireland Banknote is turning heads…

Ulster Bank has recently revealed plans to print an innovative, new design for vertical banknotes which will be entering circulation in Northern Ireland next year.

This turn of events breaks the mould for UK currency, with the Bank of England first issuing banknotes in 1694 to a landscape rather than portrait alignment.

Whilst the banks of Northern Ireland have traditionally issued their own money, only once before has a note like this ever been printed in the UK, during 1999 when The Northern Bank issued a vertical polymer note to mark the millennium.

It featured an illustration of the Space Shuttle on one side and stopped being issued in 2008 when they reverted to the standard landscape paper notes, however the note can still be used today. 

Northern Bank vertical polymer £5 note from 1999. Credit: polymernotes.com


Ulster Bank plans to follow in the steps of the Bank of England by replacing their current paper currency with polymer £5 and £10 notes.

However, this new design goes to the next level, not only updating the material but also changing the entire orientation of the note.

Northern Ireland’s new banknotes will be based on the theme “living in nature” with Strangford Lough in County Down and Brent Geese featuring on the £5 note and Lough Erne in County Fermanagh, the Irish hare and Guelder-rose shrubs featuring on the £10.


New vertical Northern Ireland Banknote to enter circulation next year. Credit BBC News


Switzerland’s first vertical banknotes entered circulation in 1995 and for the past two years have won the “Bank Note of the Year Award” as voted for by members of The International Bank Note Society (IBNS).

Earlier this year Canada introduced their first ever vertical banknotes, hoping to create more space for a bigger image and to set it apart from existing polymer bills. Their 10 dollar note is currently nominated for Banknote of the Year 2018.

Bermuda, Israel, Venezuela, Argentina and Cape Verde are among other countries to use vertical banknotes in their currency.

These banknotes may be easier to use at cash and vending machines and may make it clearer to see the notes in your wallet, but what are your thought on this change in design and would you like the Bank of England to follow suit? Let us know in the comments below!


Credit: theibns.org


Secure your Official Change Checker Banknote Collecting Pack!

If you’re interested, our Official Change Checker Banknote Collecting Pack is the perfect way for any change checker to start collecting decimal banknotes or display an already growing collection.

To help you start your banknote collection, this pack includes an original £1 banknote, issued more than 35 years ago, in mint uncirculated condition… absolutely FREE.

Click here to find out more about the Official Change Checker Banknote Collecting Pack >>


  1. R Brodie on May 25, 2018 at 7:46 pm

    Where can these be bought from when they are released please?

    • Rachel Hooper on May 29, 2018 at 9:55 am

      Hi, at the moment we are not 100% sure if these will just be circulation notes or if they may do a low serial number charity auction. The Bank of England and Clydesdale have done this recently with an auction house called Spink and Sons, but again this is just speculation.

  2. Jim on May 25, 2018 at 9:26 am

    Superb banknotes by Ulster Bank, but in all the excitement everybody seems to have forgotten the Five Pound note issued by Northern Bank back in 1999/2000 to commemorate the Millennium – not only printed in vertical format, but using an early version of polymer complete with see through windows.

    • Rachel Hooper on May 25, 2018 at 10:00 am

      Hi Jim, you’re right! The Northern Bank was in fact the first bank in the UK to issue a polymer note in 1999 and this was indeed a special vertical edition, created to mark the millennium. It featured an illustration of the Space Shuttle on one side and stopped being issued in 2008, but can still be used today. Have you found one in your change?

      • Jim on May 25, 2018 at 4:57 pm

        Hi Rachel, I spotted the one I’ve got in my collection being paid in at my local bank in Birmingham back in 2001 or 2 and they kindly paid it out to me as part of my cash withdrawal, and I’ve kept it ever since! (it’s a fairly well circulated example but I was very pleased to get it).

      • Rachel Hooper on May 29, 2018 at 9:49 am

        Hi Jim, that’s amazing. I bet you were surprised to find that in your change! A great note to add to your collection.