High Streets Initiative · 22 January 2018

Retailers given preparation checklist ahead of paper £10 note withdrawal

The polymer £10 notes have been constructed with new security features

 With just six weeks until the old paper £10 notes are withdrawn from circulation, the Bank of England has published guidance to help small business owners ensure a smooth transition.

Since the “plastic fiver” was introduced in 2016, the Bank of England has been gearing the country for a full shift to polymer banknotes. A new £10 was introduced in September 2017, depicting Jane Austen, and the switch will be completed with a polymer £20 note in 2020.

The old paper notes were criticised for poor durability and ease of counterfeiting

Polymer bank notes are designed to be more durable than the paper predecessor and are produced with a series of new security features to prevent counterfeiting.

The latest deadline retail business owners need to be aware of is Thursday 1 March 2018, when the paper £10 note will be withdrawn from circulation.

The Bank of England has urged retailers to start preparing for the switch, offering guidance to ensure their business is ready. 

Check machinery

Any machines that weigh, count, sort or dispense banknotes need to be checked and will likely require a software update. Hardware upgrades could also be required due to the new banknote size.

Customer communication

Retailers have also been warned to manage customer expectations, and put in place processes if machines have not been upgraded in time.

Staff training

Bank of England has published online guidance to support staff training on the new polymer notes.



How to spot a counterfeit polymer £10 note

The Bank of England published guidance on the new note’s security features to help business owners spot a fake


Commenting on the upcoming withdrawal of paper £10 notes, James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), advised business owners to consider what changes may need to be made.

“Retailers need to be aware of the changes that are happening with the new polymer £10 now that the withdrawal date of the paper note is six weeks away. Any retailers who are handling cash need to ensure that they have a plan in place for how they will adapt their cash handling practices,” Lowman said.

“We would encourage retailers to engage with the various materials that the Bank of England has produced to support the transition from paper to polymer.”

Retailers are not legally required to accept the old £10 note after 1 March, but if they choose to at their own discretion, the Bank of England will always exchange old-series notes.

One in three consumers have given notes and coins just 25 years to survive

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Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.