Paper £20 note

We first issued our paper £20 note in 2007. It features the economist Adam Smith.

Key facts

A new polymer £20 note was issued on 20 February 2020

Don’t worry, you can still use the paper £20 note for now

We’ll give you 6 months’ notice of the date you’ll no longer be able to use the paper £20


Front of the note


Back of the note

Explore our paper £20 note

Drag the note or use the slider to find out about the features on the note

Hologram

The images change between a ‘£’ symbol and the number ‘20’ when the note is tilted.

Watermark

When held up to the light, there is a bright '£20' at the top of the Queen's portrait.

Foils

There are alternating images of Adam Smith. The number '20' is embossed over the foil strip.

Ultra-violet features

Under ultra-violet light, the number '20' appears in bright red and green, against a duller background.

Metallic thread

A metallic thread appears as silver dashes on the back. When held up to the light, the thread appears as a continuous dark line.

Historical character

Adam Smith was an economist, philosopher and writer.

Artwork

Images of factory workers.

Quote

‘The division of labour in pin manufacturing: (and the great increase in the quantity of work that results)' is from one of Smith's most famous books.

Size

The higher the value of a note, the larger it is. This note is approximately 149mm x 80mm.

Copyright symbols

The international copyright symbol is on the front and back of the note.

Unique numbering

The numbers and letters in the vertical serial number are all the same height and colour. The horizontal serial number is multi-coloured and increases in height from left to right.

Print quality

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

Print quality

The value of the note is written in tiny letters and numbers below the Queen’s portrait. This is visible with a magnifying glass.

See-through register

Coloured shapes are printed on the front and back of the note, that combine to form a '£' symbol when held up to the light.

Raised print

You can feel raised print on the words ‘Bank of England’ and in the bottom right corner, around the number ‘20’.

Key security features

Focus on these two key security features to help confirm that your notes are genuine:

Hologram image change

Tilt the note from side to side. Check the images change between a '£' symbol and the number '20'.

Bright 20 in the watermark

 

Hold the note up to the light. Check there is a bright '£20' at the top of the Queen's portrait.

Other security features

Foils

There are alternating images of Adam Smith along the foil strip.  The position of foil patches can vary on notes. To the right of the Chief Cashier’s signature, the number '20' is embossed over the foil strip.

Feel of paper and raised print

The note is printed on special paper that gives it a unique feel.  On the front of the note, you can feel raised print. For example, on the words ‘Bank of England’ and in the bottom right corner, around the number '20'.

Ultraviolet features

Under a good quality ultra-violet light, the number '20' appears in bright red and green on the front of the note, against a duller background. You can see bright red and green flecks on both the front and back of the note.

Metallic thread

A metallic thread is embedded in the note and appears as silver dashes on the back.  When the note is held up to the light, the thread appears as a continuous dark line.

Print quality

The printed lines and colours on the note are sharp, clear and free from smudges or blurred edges. If you use a magnifying glass, you will see the value of the note written in small letters and numbers below the Queen's portrait.

See-through register

Coloured shapes are printed on the front and back of the note, below the signature of the Chief Cashier. These shapes combine to form a '£' symbol when the note is held up to the light.

Design features

Size

The higher the value of a note, the larger it is. This note is approximately 149mm x 80mm.

Unique numbering

A unique serial number is printed horizontally and vertically on the back of the note. The horizontal number 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 symbols

The international copyright symbol is included on the front of the note, to the left of the foil strip and on the back, below the ‘Bank of England’ text.

Historical character

Adam Smith was an economist, philosopher and writer.

Artwork

There are images of factory workers on the back of the note. In one of Smith's most famous books: ‘An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations’, he used the example of workers in a pin factory to describe the benefits of division of labour.

Quote

‘The division of labour in pin manufacturing: (and the great increase in the quantity of work that results)' is a quote from one of Smith's 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.

Exchanging old notes

On 20 February 2020 we issued a new polymer £20 note.

You will still be able to use the paper £20 note until we withdraw it from circulation. We will announce the withdrawal date after we have issued our new polymer £20 note. We will give six 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 a deposit into any bank account you can access at the Post Office. And, you can always exchange withdrawn notes with us.

Current notes

This page was last updated 29 May 2020
Was this page useful?
Add your details...