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Pound Sterling- General information

Quick links to banknotes
Current banknotes in circulation:
 Five Pound Sterling polymer note Ten Pound Sterling polymer note Twenty Pound Sterling polymer note Fifty Pound Sterling polymer note

Withdrawn banknotes:
Five Pound Sterling series E Ten Pound Sterling series V Twenty Pound Sterling note Fifty Pound Sterling note Fifty Pound Sterling series E

The pound sterling (ISO code: GBP), commonly called the pound, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies (the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands) and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands,British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence (singular: penny). A number of nations that do not use sterling also have currencies called the "pound". Sterling is the fourth most traded currency in the foreign exchange market, after the US dollar, the euro and the Japanese yen. Together with those three currencies and Chinese yuan forms the basket of currencies which calculate the value of IMF Special Drawing Rights. Sterling is also the third most held reserve currency in global reserves (about 4%).

The Bank of England has been issuing banknotes for over 300 years. During that time, both the notes themselves and their role in society have undergone continual change. From today's perspective, it is easy to accept that a piece of paper that costs a few pence to produce is worth five, ten, twenty or fifty pounds. Gaining and maintaining public confidence in the currency is a key role of the Bank of England and one which is essential to the proper functioning of the economy.

The notes currently in circulation are as follows:

£5 depicting Winston Churchill, the Elizabeth Tower, and the maze at Blenheim Palace, the quote "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat." from a 1940 speech by Churchill, a view of the Palace of Westminster and the Nobel Prize medal.

£10 showing Jane Austen (from a portrait by James Andrews), the quote "I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!" from Pride and Prejudice, an illustration of Elizabeth Bennet and a view of Godmersham Park in Kent.

£20 depicting self-portrait of artist J. M. W. Turner, a version of Turner's The Fighting Temeraire, the quote "Light is therefore color" from an 1818 lecture by Turner, and a copy of Turner's signature as made on his will.

£20 depicting Adam Smith, with an illustration of 'The division of labor in pin manufacturing'.

£50 showing photo of mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing by Elliott & Fry, with an image of Turing's Automatic Computing Engine. The quote "This is only a foretaste of what is to come and only the shadow of what is going to be" is a quote from Alan Turing, given in an interview to The Times newspaper on 11 June 1949

£50 depicting Matthew Boulton and James Watt, with steam engine and Boulton's Soho factory.

Important: Until when the old £20 and £50 are legal tender?

The Bank of England announced that £50 and £20 Series F banknotes will be withdrawn from circulation after 30 September 2022.

Bank of England anti-counterfeiting strategy has five key elements:

  1. Developing and issuing new state-of-the-art counterfeit resilient notes. This was one of the primary reasons for moving from cotton-paper to polymer banknotes.
  2. Working with the cash industry so that only high-quality, authentic notes are issued and recirculated.
  3. An active education programme that works with businesses and the public to help people understand how to identify genuine banknotes.
  4. Providing a framework for cash machine companies and those companies that own or operate ATMs so that they can test and prove that their equipment and processes meets minimum authentication standards.
  5. Working closely with law enforcement agencies to disrupt counterfeiting operations.

According to Bank of England in the first half of 2021 typically less than 0.0023% of banknotes were counterfeit, that is less than 1 in 40,000 banknotes. Some 58,000 counterfeit Bank of England banknotes with a nominal face value of £1.5 million were taken out of circulation. At any one time, there is around 4.6 billion genuine banknotes in circulation, with a notional face value of £83 billion.

For information about withdrawn Bank Of England banknotes and how to exchange them check Bank Of England withdrawn banknotes