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212 million paper fivers and tenners still out there – how to make them spendable again

Millions of old-style paper £5 and £10 notes worth over £1.5 billion still haven't been returned to the Bank of England, over a year since the last of them were taken out of circulation.

Shops stopped accepting the old £5 notes in May 2017, while the £10 notes were withdrawn in March 2018, and since then, over 224 million £5 notes and over 697 million £10 notes have been returned.

But over 118 million £5 notes and almost 94 million £10 notes are still 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.

I've got an old paper note – what should I do?

While the old paper fivers and tenners are no longer legal tender, bank notes retain their value for all time and so you'll always be able to exchange them at the Bank of England (see below for how to do this).

But for many, the simplest way of cashing in your old notes is to take them to your local bank branch. The vast majority of banks will let you deposit the notes if you're a customer.

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 (see more on how this works in our Little-known ways to bank at the Post Office blog):

  • Allied Irish Bank (GB)
  • Bank of Ireland
  • Bank of Scotland
  • Barclays
  • CAF
  • 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

If you'd prefer to swap the notes with the Bank of England, you can do this by post by filling in an exchange form and sending it to: Department NEX, Bank of England, Threadneedle Street, London, EC2R 8AH. The Bank warns this is at your own risk, so you may want to consider a special delivery service, but weigh up if it's worth it. 

Or if you're in London, you can swap your notes in person at the counter at the Bank of England on Threadneedle Street, which is open from 9am to 4pm on weekdays – the Bank warns there can be long queues though, so it could be quicker to send them back by post.

You'll need to include a copy of your photo ID and proof of address – the Bank of England website has a full list of what you'll need.

The Bank will either give you new banknotes or pay the money into your bank account. If you're exchanging by post, you can also get a cheque.

Some 145 million old-style £1 coins also still haven't been returned to the Royal Mint, more than 18 months after they went out of circulation. While these won't be accepted by the Bank of England, most major banks will let their customers deposit old £1 coins into their account, and the Post Office will also let you deposit them into your account for the banks listed above.

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