When do old £20 notes expire and are they still legal tender?

A close up of old £20 paper notes in a bundle with a white lined border

It's important to know when do old £20 notes expire as the Bank of England's withdrawal date falls this year. 

It's out with the old and in with the new in 2022, as many ask which bank notes are going out of circulation (opens in new tab). Both the old £20 and old £50 note expiry date (opens in new tab) take place this year, with The Bank of England withdrawing the paper notes from circulation, following the release of the new £20 and new £50 notes (opens in new tab) in 2020 and 2021. This means that you'll have to spend them or exchange the notes before the end date, otherwise you won't be able to use them as legal currency.

The new plastic, polymer £20 notes feature a new iconic image along with improved security features to prevent fraudulent activity. Already it's been dubbed 'the most secure banknote yet' as its new safety elements include a hologram and transparent window - two features which are near impossible to copy accurately.

When do old £20 notes expire?

Old paper £20 notes will expire on 30 September 2022. After this date, cafes, bars, shops and restaurants will no longer accept the paper £20 note. This is notably the same day as the old £50 note expiry date.

The Bank of England have to give up to six month's notice to when an old bank will cease as tender. This enables an adequate amount of time for the public to spend their old note before it expires.

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Yes, old £20 notes ares still legal tender. And you can continue to use these paper notes to make purchases at the moment. The old £20 notes will stay valid until the September 2022 expiry date given by the Bank of England.

If you are unable to meet this deadline then there is still a way you can trade in your old paper £20.

The Bank of England have said (opens in new tab) that many banks will still accept the "withdrawn notes as deposits from customers" and so will the Post Office. You can also exchange the paper notes for the new polymer ones directly at the Bank of England based in London.

What’s different about the new polymer note?

Differences to the new polymer note include a new hologram image that changes between the words ‘Twenty’ and ‘Pounds’. Plus there’s a small see-through window in the bottom corner of the note. There is also a portrait of the Queen (opens in new tab) which is printed on the window with ‘£20 Bank of England’ printed around the edge. 

These new security features have been added to make it harder for the note to be copied and forgeries to be made.

The polymer material also makes the note waterproof and much harder to rip. And it also ensures that the printed lines and colours on the note stay sharp without smudges or blurred lines.

The new £20 note showing JMW Turner

The new £20 note features English painter JMW Turner (1775 – 1851). (Credit: Getty)

The economist Adam Smith appears on the original paper £20 note. While the new polymer note features the artist JMW Turner. The self-portrait of the Romantic-era artist was painted in 1799 and is on display at Tate Britain in London. 

The other image that appears on the note is a painting of Turner’s called The Fighting Temeraire. It’s a tribute to the ship HMS Temeraire which was involved in Admiral Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in the early 19th century.

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