£20 note

We first issued our current £20 note in 2007. It features the economist Adam Smith. We will replace it in early 2020.
Front of twenty pound note
Back of twenty pound note

Overview

We first issued our current £20 note on 13 March 2007. We will replace it with a new polymer £20 note in early 2020.

You will be able to use the current £20 note until we withdraw it from circulation. We will announce the withdrawal date after we have issued our new £20 note. We will give at least three months’ notice of this withdrawal date.

Many banks will accept withdrawn notes as deposits from customers. The Post Office may also accept withdrawn notes as payment for goods and services, or as a deposit into any bank account you can access at the Post Office. And, you can always exchange withdrawn notes with us.

Design features

Size

This is our second-largest banknote, measuring approximately 149mm x 80mm.

Main denomination colour

Purple.

Denomination numeral

The large number 20 and £ symbol in the top left corner of the front of the note help you easily see its value. There is also a number 20 in the top right corner and in the bottom right corner.

Unique numbering

A unique serial number is printed horizontally and vertically on the back of the note. The horizontal numbers is in the bottom right corner. It is made up of multi-coloured letters and numbers, which increase in height from left to right. The vertical number runs down the left-hand side and the numbers and letters are the same height and colour.

Copyright symbol

The international copyright symbol is included on the front and the back of the £20 note. You can find it to the left of the holographic strip on the front of the note, and on the back under the words ‘Bank of England’.

Design

De La Rue.

Historical character: Adam Smith

Adam Smith was an economist, philosopher and writer. The £20 features a portrait of Adam Smith, images of factory workers and a quote from one of his most famous books, ‘An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations’. In this book, Smith used the example of workers in a pin factory to describe the benefits of division of labour. 

Security features

Watermark

Hold the £20 note up to the light to see the Queen's portrait and a bright £20.

Watermark on the front and back of the twenty pound note

Watermark on the front and back of the twenty pound note

Holographic strip

The strip has a number of foil patches along its length, which contain alternating holographic images. The position of the patches varies along the strip. When you tilt the note, one hologram shows a multi-coloured image of Adam Smith. The other changes between a multi-coloured £ symbol and the number 20. The number 20 is also embossed on the strip, in the same place on every note - just to the right of the Chief Cashier’s signature.
Holographic strip on the twenty pound note

Holographic strip on the twenty pound note

Feel of the paper and raised print

The special paper gives our banknotes their unique feel.

You will feel raised print in areas such as the words 'Bank of England' and in the bottom right corner, around the number 20.

Raised print on the twenty pound note

Raised print on the twenty pound note

Ultraviolet feature

Look at the front of the note under a good-quality ultraviolet light, to see the number 20 appear in bright red and green. You will also see randomly spread bright red and green flecks on both the front and back of the note. The rest of the note appears dull in contrast.
Close up vs magnified on the twenty pound note

Close up vs magnified on the twenty pound note

Metallic thread

A metallic thread appears as silver dashes on the back of the note. If you hold the note up to the light, the thread appears as a continuous dark line.
Metallic thread on the back of the twenty pound note

Metallic thread on the back of the twenty pound note

Print quality

The printed lines and colours are sharp, clear and free from smudges or blurred edges.

Clear vs blurred on the twenty pound note

Clear vs blurred on the twenty pound note

Microlettering

Use a magnifying glass to look closely at the lettering beneath the Queen's portrait. You will see the value of the note in small letters and numbers.
Close up vs magnified of the twenty pound note

Close up vs magnified of the twenty pound note

See-through register

Hold the £20 note up to the light to see coloured irregular shapes printed on the front and back. They combine to form the £ symbol.
Shapes added on the front and back of the twenty pound note

Shapes added on the front and back of the twenty pound note

This page was last updated 01 August 2019
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