Spend your old tenners – paper £10 notes to lose legal tender status

Published by Adam Williams on 19 February 2018.
Last updated on 19 February 2018

Spend your old tenners – paper £10 notes to lose legal tender status

There are less than two weeks left for consumers to spend paper £10 notes, with more than £2.1 billion worth of these notes remaining in circulation.

Thursday 1 March 2018 is the last date that the paper tenner, which features the image of scientist Charles Darwin, will be accepted in shops, pubs and restaurants.

It has been replaced with a polymer, or plastic, £10 note. This new note features a likeness of author Jane Austen and entered circulation in September 2017. After the 1 March deadline, only this £10 note will be accepted by retailers.

Some financial institutions may still accept the old paper notes after the deadline, but they are not legally obliged to.

What should I do with my old tenners?

The notes remain legal tender until Thursday 1 March 2018, so you have a few days left to spend your old paper notes in shops. You can also take them to your bank where they can be deposited into your account or swapped for a new note.

If you find an old-style note after the deadline and your bank is unwilling to accept it, you can contact the Bank of England which will swap old notes “for all time”. This can be done by visiting the Bank of England in London in person, or by posting your old notes to the central bank.

The address for this service is Dept. NEX, Bank of England, Threadneedle Street, London EC2R 8AH. Beware that sending notes through the post is entirely at the sender’s risk.

What other currency changes are happening?

The removal of the paper £10 note is one of many changes to have affected English banknotes and UK currency in recent months.

The paper £5 note, featuring prison reformer Elizabeth Fry, ceased to be legal tender in May 2017 after being replaced by a new polymer note bearing the image of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill.  

The next note to be replaced is the paper £20 note featuring economist Adam Smith. It will be replaced by a new plastic £20 note bearing the image of painter JMW Turner. It is expected to launch by 2020.

There has also been a recent change in the coins issued in the UK. The new 12-sided £1 coin entered circulation in March 2017 and the old ‘round pound’ ceased to be legal tender in October 2017.

If a shop gives me a paper £10 note, can I ask for a plastic one?

No-one is obliged to accept a banknote at any time - so you’re well within your rights to ask for a polymer note.

The Bank of England says that while notes worth £85 million are being returned every week, there are still significant amounts in circulation. It estimates that at least £2.1 billion worth of old £10 notes are still in use.

What happens to all the paper notes that have been in circulation?

All the old paper £10 notes are recycled into compost. This happens to all paper notes once they’re no longer in a useable state.

Will paper tenners be worth something in future?

Rare notes and coins can be valuable, but this £10 note was mass produced. It is likely that only those notes with an early serial number in pristine condition are likely to be worth anything substantial.

There are a handful of paper tenners listed on auction website eBay, but few have attracted any bids.

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