Using images of banknotes

It is a criminal offence to reproduce one of our banknotes, or a part of one, without getting our permission first. We also own the copyright on our banknotes.

The law relating to reproducing our banknotes appears in Section 18(1) of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981.

How to use an image of a banknote

If you would like to use an image of one of our banknotes, you must ensure you meet the banknote reproduction terms and conditions – these are different depending on whether you intend to produce a physical or digital reproduction:

Banknote reproduction conditions

These conditions apply:

  • whether you are reproducing all or part of a banknote
  • whether you are reproducing the front or the back of a banknote
  • to reproductions of all banknotes issued by the Bank of England, whether they are current legal tender or not
  • to all possible reproductions, including modified or distorted reproductions.
Reproduction condition  Physical reproductions, eg. books, newspapers, banners. Conditions 1,2,3 and 4 must be met and at least one of 5a) - c) Digital/other reproductions, eg. on screen only. Conditions 3 and 4 must be met and at least one of 5b) - c)
 1  Reproductions must be one sided only.  Required  Not required
 2  Reproductions must not be the same size as actual banknotes. They must be at least 25% smaller or at least 25% larger.  Required  Not required
 3  Reproductions may not appear in an offensive or inappropriate context or in such a manner that the Bank, in its sole opinion, believes would undermine the integrity of the currency.  Required  Required
 4  There should be no distortion to the Queen’s image (apart from an enlargement, reduction or slant).  Required  Required
 5a)  Reproductions must be printed on a material clearly different and distinguishable from materials used to print current series Bank of England banknotes.  At least one of conditions 5 (a) to (c) must also be met  Not required
 5b)  Reproductions showing more than 50% of the total surface area of one side must be overprinted with the word ‘SPECIMEN’ unless on a slant of over 20 degrees.

SPECIMEN markings must be in bold grey font, at a 45-degree slant through the centre of the banknote, not less than one-third the length and one-tenth the height of the note.
 At least one of conditions 5 (a) to (c) must also be met  At least one of conditions 5 (b) to (c) must also be met
5c)   Reproductions showing less than 50% of the total surface area of one side do not need to be slanted or overprinted with the word ‘SPECIMEN’.  At least one of conditions 5 (a) to (c) must also be met  At least one of conditions 5 (a) to (c) must also be met

 

Approved images of current banknotes are available from our banknote image library. If you want to use any other images of our banknotes, you must apply online for permission. 

Apply for permission

Whether you are using an approved image or creating your own, you must comply with our banknote reproduction terms and conditions at all times. Failure to do so may result in legal action.

For more information, you can contact us at banknote.reproductions@bankofengland.co.uk or on +44 (0)20 3461 4028.

Novelty banknotes and inappropriate reproductions

We will not give permission for anyone to make a novelty version of one of our banknotes, for example one featuring a celebrity. This is because there have been cases of banknotes that have been altered in this way being mistakenly accepted as genuine. 

We will not give permission for reproductions of our banknotes that show or use them in an inappropriate context, or where they could be mistaken for a genuine banknote. This includes:

  • Reproductions that are double-sided.
  • Reproductions that are the same size as the actual banknote.
  • Reproductions based on the destruction of banknotes.  For example, banknote images being cut or burned, or products that will be destroyed, like tissues.
  • Products that associate banknotes with inappropriate content, for example sexually explicit images.
  • Images that distort the Queen or any of the people featured on banknotes in a disrespectful manner.
  • Reproductions printed on a material that is too similar to that used to print current Bank of England banknotes, unless it includes the word ‘SPECIMEN’, or is only showing half of the banknote. 

This is because reproductions like this could affect the integrity or public image of our banknotes, cause offence, or infringe copyright.

Defacing banknotes

It is illegal to deface our banknotes, for example by printing or writing on them. This is an offence under the Currency and Banknotes Act 1928.

 
This page was last updated 08 November 2017
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