The Bank of England’s first polymer note – the new £5 featuring Sir Winston Churchill – enters circulation today, September 13.
The Bank has released 440 million new fivers and they will begin to be available from many cash machines and bank counters across the UK from today. You can expect to see a new note over the coming days and weeks. Here's what you need to know:
What's different about the new £5
- Stronger The new £5 note is made from polymer, a thin, flexible plastic material. Polymer is resistant to dirt and moisture, and lasts around 2.5 times longer than paper so can withstand being repeatedly folded into wallets or survive the spin cycle!
- Safer The polymer note has a new generation of security features, which the Bank says will make it even harder to counterfeit. These include the see-through window and the foil Elizabeth Tower which is gold on the front and silver on the back. There is also a hologram of the word ‘Five’ which changes to ‘Pounds’ when the note is tilted.
- Environmentally-friendly Polymer notes are better for the environment because they last longer and so we print fewer notes, which means less energy is used in manufacturing and transportation. When a polymer note reaches the end of its life it will be recycled into new plastic products. Scottish Banks are also printing their next £5 and £10 notes on polymer. Clydesdale Bank will be issuing a polymer fiver on September 15.
- Sir Winston Churchill features The new note has wartime Prime Minster Sir Winston Churchill on the reverse. As well as being a statesmen, Churchill was also a writer and an artist. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953. A new polymer £10 note featuring Jane Austen will enter circulation in summer 2017, followed by the J.M.W. Turner £20 note by 2020.
- Help for the visually impaired and blind people The new notes will retain tiered sizing, bold numerals and a similar colour palette to the current notes to help blind and visually impaired people tell the difference between them. Plus, polymer £10 and £20 notes will also have a series of raised dots. People with visual impairments will be able to tell the £5 note apart because it does not have this feature.
- What happens with paper notes Paper £5 notes will be gradually withdrawn as they are banked by retailers and businesses. You can continue to spend paper £5 notes as usual until May 5, 2017, after which they will cease to be legal tender. After this, you will be able to exchange paper £5 notes at the Bank of England.
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