The number of paper £5 banknotes returned or exchanged for polymer banknotes as at 5 May 2017

We publish details of a selection of requests made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, and the information we disclose in response.

Subject/Request Details: The figures for how many old paper £5 were handed in and exchanged for the new polymer notes before they left circulation and an estimate of how many are left in the UK that were not returned or exchanged as at 5 May 2017?

Date: 23 November 2017


From the launch on 13 September 2016 until the Withdrawal of Legal Tender Status (‘WOLTS’) on 5 May 2017 the number of paper £5 banknotes returned was 188 million.  This figure excludes data for returns made over the counter at the Bank of England’s (the ‘Bank’s’) Threadneedle Street building in London.

The number of paper £5 banknotes returned over the counter during the same period as above was 16,955.  Please note that when an exchange is processed at the Bank’s counter a customer does not have to be issued with the same denomination banknotes as they want to exchange, therefore we do not have an exact figure of how many of the 16,955 quoted above were directly traded for polymer £5 banknotes.  However between the launch and WOLTS the Bank issued 78,203 polymer £5 banknotes over the counter. 

Since the withdrawal of paper £5 banknotes up to 31 August 2017, the Bank’s counter has received 67,180 paper £5 banknotes and issued 32,926 polymer £5 banknotes. 

As at 31 August 2017 there was a total of 138.2 million paper £5 banknotes that had not been returned or traded in.  

All genuine Bank of England notes that have been withdrawn from circulation retain their face value for all time and can still be exchanged over the counter as explained above.  There is no fee for this service and there is no expiry on the period in which we will exchange old notes. Banknotes can also be exchanged by post.