Three banks are authorised to issue banknotes in Scotland:
- Bank of Scotland plc
- Clydesdale Bank plc
- The Royal Bank of Scotland plc.
Four banks are authorised to issue banknotes in Northern Ireland:
- Bank of Ireland (UK) plc
- AIB Group (UK) plc (trades as First Trust Bank in Northern Ireland)
- Northern Bank Limited (trades as Danske Bank)
- Ulster Bank Limited.
The Association of Commercial Banknote Issuers has more information on the seven issuing banks.
The seven Scottish and Northern Ireland banks must, by law, set aside assets that are worth at least the value of all of the banknotes they have in circulation. This ensures that people with genuine banknotes issued by the seven banks receive a level of protection similar to people who have genuine Bank of England banknotes.
The assets can be a combination of Bank of England banknotes, UK coins and funds held in an account at the Bank of England. This means that, if one of the banks failed, the backing assets could be used to reimburse everyone who has one of its banknotes.
Bank of England banknotes held as backing assets may be kept either at an authorised location or at the Bank of England. Some of these banknotes are of very high value, including £1 million banknotes (known as Giants) and £100 million banknotes (known as Titans).
How we regulate Scottish and Northern Ireland banknotes
In short, we are responsible for checking if the seven Scottish and Northern Ireland banks that issue banknotes are complying with the asset-backing rules. We have a published approach to regulating Scottish and Northern Ireland banknotes.
We do this by collecting regular information and visiting the places where the assets are stored to count them and check they are held securely. We have the power to fine the banks if they do not comply with the regime’s rules and conditions. You can read more about how we use this power in the Scottish and Northern Ireland Banknote Issuance Annual Report.
We are not responsible for the design of banknotes from the seven banks, or how well they resist counterfeiting.
Legislation and relevant documentation
Whistleblowing and Scottish and Northern Ireland banknotes
Whistleblowing is when an employee reports suspected wrongdoing at work. The Bank of England is a 'prescribed person;, which means that you can make a whistleblowing disclosure about the Scottish and Northern Ireland banknote regime to us instead of your employer. This is generally referred to as 'making a disclosure in the public interest'. An employee can report things that are not right, are illegal or if anyone at work is neglecting their duties, including:
- someone’s health and safety is in danger
- damage to the environment
- a criminal offence
- the company is not obeying the law
- covering up wrongdoing.