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222 million old £5 and £10 notes STILL out there – how to make them spendable again

Old paper fivers and tenners worth some £220 million have been returned to banks in the last six months and swapped for new currency, new figures obtained by reveal – but a further 222 million old bank notes worth £1.6bn are still out there. If you've got one, here's how to make it spendable again.

Shops stopped accepting old paper £10 notes a year ago and old paper £5 notes back in May 2017. But old bank notes retain their value for all time, so while you can no longer spend them on the high street, you can return them to the Bank of England, or most major banks if you're a customer, and get a new polymer banknote in exchange.

We revealed last September that there was around £1.8 billion in old paper £5 and £10 notes which had yet to be returned. Since then, around 20 million £10 notes and four million £5 notes have been cashed in. But there's still plenty out there, so get looking down the back of the sofa, in old coat pockets and in piggy banks to see if you have any left.

How to make old bank notes spendable again

You can exchange all old Bank of England notes directly at the Bank itself, which is in Threadneedle Street in central London. Its counter is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 4pm – you may need to provide two original identity documents (one photo ID and one proof of address) for any exchange.

Queues can be long, so an alternative is to post them and have the money deposited in your bank account. You can send the notes to Department NEX, Bank of England, Threadneedle Street, London, EC2R 8AH. Full details on what to include can be found on the Bank of England website.

For most, the easiest option is simply to take the old notes to your own local bank branch. Many major banks will allow you to deposit old notes if you are a customer – Bank of Scotland, Halifax, NatWest, Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander and Ulster Bank have confirmed to us this week that they're still accepting old fivers and old tenners.

Alternatively, you could go to your local Post Office. The Post Office allows customers of the following banks to deposit any old notes into their usual high street bank account at their local Post Office branch:

  • Allied Irish Bank (GB)
  • Bank of Ireland
  • Bank of Scotland
  • Barclays
  • Cahoot
  • Cashplus
  • Clydesdale Bank
  • Co-op Bank
  • Danske Bank
  • First Direct
  • First Trust Bank
  • Halifax
  • Handelsbanken
  • HSBC
  • Lloyds Bank
  • Metro Bank
  • NatWest
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Santander
  • Smile
  • Think Money
  • TSB
  • Ulster Bank
  • Virgin Money
  • Yorkshire Bank

How many old bank notes are still out there?

New figures from the Bank of England show that as of 1 March, exactly a year after the legal tender status of the paper Charles Darwin £10 banknote was withdrawn, there were around 102 million old paper tenners – worth over £1 billion – which had yet to be handed in.

The Bank of England has told us it doesn't know the exact make-up of the notes still out there, so some of the missing £10 notes will predate the Darwin design – occasionally, the bank does see notes from as far back as the 1960s being returned. There are currently 959 million, or £9,596 million worth, of the new polymer £10 notes in circulation.

The most recent paper £5 note, the Elizabeth Fry £5, was withdrawn on 5 May 2017. The Bank of England says there are still 120 million of these which haven't been returned. Fewer £5 notes have been handed in than £10 notes in the last six months – but this is likely to be because old fivers have been out of circulation for longer.

'Make sure you check behind the sofa'

Steve Nowottny, news and features editor at, said: "Given paper tenners were taken out of circulation a year ago, and paper fivers almost two years ago, some might assume all the old notes have now been handed in. But these new figures show that's far from the case – in fact, a massive amount of cash is still out there.

"So make sure you check behind the sofa, empty old coat pockets and go through old wallets to see if any of it's yours. If it is, it's straightforward to swap the money for notes you can spend – either via your local bank branch or the Post Office, or if necessary, the Bank of England."

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