Consumers are scrambling to exchange their old notes for new plastic versions, just over a fortnight before they cease to be legal tender at the end of September.
The Bank of England has warned people to expect long queues at its headquarters on Threadneedle Street in the City of London as they try to exchange £20 and £50 notes.
He has reassured customers that there is no deadline for exchanging the notes. However, the fact that they will no longer be accepted in shops or by businesses has led to a rush to exchange them.
Customers have had to wait more than an hour in recent days, according to the bank’s website, as a result of “very high demand”.
He said that customers arriving after 2 p.m.
“There will be long queues and you may experience waiting times of over an hour,” the Bank warned. “We would ask that you please consider the long waiting times when traveling to the Bank to carry out an in-person exchange.”
The Bank suggested that customers who do not need to use the note immediately can send their old notes to its offices by post.
Holders of old notes, including those based outside the UK, have contacted the Bank via social media to ask if they will be left with worthless currency.
The bank he replied on Twitter: “All genuine Bank of England notes which have been or are soon to be withdrawn from circulation retain their face value forever and are exchangeable at the Bank of England in London.”
The multilateral notes were introduced by the Bank in 2016, ending 320 years of paper money in Britain, with the £5 note depicting Sir Winston Churchill the first to make the switch.
New £20 notes featuring artist JMW Turner were issued in February 2020, followed by the multi-faceted £50 note featuring Bletchley Park codebreaker and scientist Alan Turing in June 2021.
From October, these multilateral £20 and £50 notes will be the only issues accepted by UK businesses, but the Bank explained that some UK banks will also accept the withdrawn notes if deposited by a customer and some Post Office branches also accept them. .
While the majority of the £20 and £50 paper notes in circulation have already been replaced with the new polymer version, more than £6bn worth of £20 notes – featuring economist Adam Smith – remain in circulation, along with more than £8bn of £50 – with businessman Matthew Boulton and engineer James Watt.
After the Queen’s death, the nation’s coins and banknotes will eventually be replaced with versions featuring the head of King Charles. However, the process is expected to take at least two years, and possibly longer for coins.