The new plastic £10 note enters circulation today – and will be the first British banknote to feature raised dots for blind and partially sighted people.

Like the new £5 note, released last September, the new tenner is made of polymer. Each note is expected to last two and a half times longer than the current paper £10 notes – about five years in total.

The new notes will make their way into cash machines and tills across the country over the next few weeks – though if you're desperate to get your hands on one now, you can go to the counter at the Bank of England on Threadneedle Street in London and exchange your old paper tenner.

What does the new £10 note look like?

The new plastic £10 notes, which are 15% smaller than the current paper £10 notes, have a portrait of author Jane Austen on the back. It will be the only banknote currently in circulation to feature a woman other than the Queen.

The Bank of England says the new note has far more sophisticated security measures than its predecessor. To prove the note's the real deal, there's a large see-through window on the note with a portrait of the Queen printed on it and the words '£10 Bank of England' twice around the edge. Below this there's a silver foil patch. When the note is tilted the word 'Ten' changes to 'Pounds' and a multi-coloured rainbow effect can be seen.

On the side of the note with the Queen's head on, there is a '10' which appears in bright red and green when shone under UV light.

The note also features a series of raised dots in the top-left hand corner to help blind and partially sighted people identify it – a measure developed in conjunction with the charity the Royal National Institute of Blind People.

The new tenner will contain some traces of beef tallow, despite some controversy over the new fiver containing the substance when it was launched.

New £10 note released - what you need to know
The new £10 note

Will I be able to use the new notes in self-service machines?

The Bank of England says it can't guarantee that every machine in supermarkets, car parks, cinemas and so on will be able to take the new £10 note immediately.

It says it's been working with cash-handling machines' manufacturers to help bring this about, but machines have to be updated to cope with the introduction of any new banknote and in some places this may not have happened yet.

Sainsbury's, Tesco and Morrisons have confirmed that their self-service checkouts are all accepting the new notes, Asda have said that the vast majority of theirs are, and the few remaining ones are currently being updated

How can I spot a rare, valuable new £10 note?

When the new £5 note was released last year some rare new notes started selling for £100s on eBay – see MSE Jenny's How to check if your new fiver's worth £100s blog for more.

Now the new £10 note's been released, it's again expected that some with special serial numbers could be worth a lot more than others.

Serial numbers on the notes feature two letters, followed by an eight-digit number. Money-specialist website says the following numbers are the ones collectors are looking out for:

  • Serial numbers 16 121775 and 18 071817 – these represent the date of birth and death of Jane Austen.
  • Serial number 17 751817 – this is Jane Austen's birth and death year combined.
  • Serial number 28 011813 – this is the date that Jane Austen's most celebrated novel Pride and Prejudice was first published.
  • AA01 notes are first to be printed, so will be popular with collectors.
  • JA-prefixed numbers will also be popular because these contain Jane Austen's initials, although these will not be printed for a while.

Not all the notes produced by the Bank of England will be circulated. For example, the Queen receives AA01 000001, while various other low serial-number notes will be given to the Prime Minister and her cabinet.

When are the current paper £10 notes being phased out?

You can continue to spend paper £10 notes as normal for the time being – but they will be gradually withdrawn as they are banked by retailers and the public.

They will stop being legal tender at some point next spring – the exact date will be announced at least three months in advance.

However, if you do still find you have a paper £10 note stuffed down the back of the sofa after it stops being legal tender, don't worry. Old banknotes officially hold their face value "for all time", so you'll still be able to exchange it at face value with the Bank of England in London, in person or by post (at your own risk).

What's more, many banks and building societies continued to accept old fivers from their own customers after they were withdrawn – so it's possible something similar will happen with £10 notes.

Will more notes be printed in plastic in future?

A new plastic £20 note featuring an image of artist JMW Turner will go into circulation in 2020. There are currently no plans to release a plastic £50 note.