News Article

The new plastic £5 note revealed

Published 7 June 2016 by

The Bank of England has announced the new design of the £5 bank note – and it could put an end to ripped and soggy bank notes.

The new fivers are set to enter circulation on 13 September and will be made of thin plastic rather than cotton paper. To get you up to speed, we’re going to take you through everything you need to know about the new plastic £5 note.

Why polymer?

This is the first time the Bank of England are using polymer as part of a £70 million project. They’re not the first in the world though – plastic banknotes are already in use in Scotland as well as Australia and Canada.

Polymer is a thin, flexible plastic that doesn’t get wet and dirty like paper. The new plastic notes won’t tear, they’re expected to withstand a 90C cycle in the washing machine and can be wiped clean, so they should last longer than paper notes.

New security features – a see-through window and Big Ben shown in gold foil on the front and silver on the back – should make it harder for fraudsters to make fakes as well.

Who’s on the note?

The former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill will feature on the new £5 note alongside the Queen. He will replace prison reformer Elizabeth Fry.

The artwork will include the following features.

• Churchill’s declaration "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat" taken from a 1940 speech in the Commons.

• A view of the palace of Westminster and Big Ben striking three o’clock – the time of the Commons speech.

• A background image of the Nobel Prize for literature, which Churchill won in 1953.

Churchill has featured on currency before – he appeared on the 1965 crown, or five shilling piece.

How long can I use paper fivers?

You will be able to get your hands on a new polymer £5 note from September but it will take a few weeks for the notes to spread across the country.

You have until May 2017 to spend any paper £5 notes that you have. After this point, you will need to exchange paper £5 notes at the Bank of England in person or by post as part of a free service.

Will there be more plastic notes?

Yes, the new fiver is the first in a series of polymer notes coming over the next couple of years. Jane Austen will feature on the new plastic £10 note from 2017, while JMW Turner will be the face of the new plastic £20 note by 2020.

Want to know who Joseph Turner was? Check out our blog.

At the moment, there are no plans to issue a new £50 note. This has led some to speculate that the £50 note could eventually disappear from circulation.

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