What to do with old £20 notes – how to exchange old notes for new ones

Old paper £20 and £50 notes are no longer legal tender. We explain what to do with your old banknotes

Old £20 and £50 paper notes stopped being legal tender in the UK on 30 September 2022. This means you can’t use them in shops or as payment any more.  But, according to the Bank of England, there is around £6bn worth of £20 paper notes and over £8bn worth of paper £50 notes in circulation – that’s around 300 million individual £20 notes and 160 million £50 notes that haven’t been used before the notes were withdrawn from circulation. But even though you can’t spend these old paper notes, it’s worth checking old bags, wallets and even the kids’ money boxes as you can still exchange old £20 and £50 notes, so get hunting while you still can.

We look at what to do with old £20 and £50 paper notes now that they are no longer legal tender.

Exchange old £20 and £50 notes at The Bank of England

There is currently no time limit when it comes to exchanging your old banknotes via the Bank of England. You may need an ID when exchanging notes.

In person: If you can and want to, you can swap your old notes at The Bank of England Counter, in Threadneedle Street, London. The Counter is open between 9:30 am and 3 pm on weekdays. But do be aware, the Bank of England has warned of long queues and that after midday you may not be able to be served if it’s reached capacity.

By post: You can also post your old notes to the Bank, but note that this is done at your own risk and you may want to insure yourself against loss before sending banknotes in the post. You’ll also need to fill in a postal exchange form and send photocopies of your proof of ID and proof of address.

Can I take my old £20 notes to my bank to exchange them?

You may be able to exchange old notes at your own UK bank, but it is the bank’s discretion as to whether they are happy to accept old paper £20 and £50 notes. 

Some banks will only take them if you have an account there and you pay the old paper notes into the accounts you hold with them.

How to exchange old paper £20 and £50 notes at the Post Office 

You can deposit out-of-date banknotes – up to the value of £300 every two years – into your bank account at some local Post Offices. You will need to take photo ID so that the Post Office can keep track of how much you exchange and do not exceed the limit. You’ll be given the same value back in the new polymer notes.

These are the notes you can exchange at a Post Office

  • Elizabeth Fry £5 note – ceased to be legal tender on 5 May 2017 
  • Adam Smith £20 note – ceased to be legal tender on 30 September 2022
  • Charles Darwin  £10 note – ceased to be legal tender on 1 March 2018
  • Boulton & Watt £50 note – ceased to be legal tender on 30 September 2022

Find all the participating Post Office branches where you can exchange old notes.

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