Are plastic banknotes on the way?

30 September 2013

Plastic banknotes could be launched in the UK after the Bank of England (BoE) said it was consulting on whether to introduce them by 2016.

The polymer banknotes are considered more durable, cleaner, and more secure than the current notes we use that are printed on cotton paper. Mark Carney, new governor of the BoE, launched polymer notes in his native Canada in 2011.

Charles Bean, BoE deputy governor, said: "Polymer banknotes are cleaner, more secure and more durable than paper notes. They are also cheaper and more environmentally friendly.

"However, the Bank of England would print notes on polymer only if we were persuaded that the public would continue to have confidence in, and be comfortable with, our notes."

If the decision to move to polymer notes is taken, the BoE will also introduce smaller banknotes that are more in line with the size of banknotes in other countries. However, the Bank promised that the denominations will not change, nor will the tiered sizing approach change: meaning higher denomination notes will still be larger than smaller ones. All notes will continue to feature the Queen and "celebrate people who have made a universally recognised and lasting contribution in their particular field of work".

If the polymer notes are introduced in 2016, the first would feature Sir Winston Churchill.

The public consultation will run until 15 November, with a decision in December. If you wish to chip in with your comments, you can do so directly at or post your thoughts below.

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