Information about banknote serial numbers and the number of banknotes printed per sheet

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

Date: 27 March 2019


1. How many bank notes are printed on each sheet for the following notes: £5, £10, £20 and £50?

The number of banknotes printed on each production sheet is provided below:

Banknote Number printed per sheet
£5 (polymer) 60
£10 (polymer) 54
£20 40*
£50 35

* This will increase to 45 per sheet when the new £20 polymer banknote is produced.

2. For £5, £10, £20 and £50 notes do all the cyphers begin with AA?

The first £5, £10, £20 and £50 banknotes are printed with the prefix AA, when all serial numbers are used we move to the prefix AB and so on. To avoid any confusion and ease of identification not all letters of the alphabet are used.

3. How many serial numbers are printed per cypher for £5, £10, £20 and £50 notes?

Each cypher has a possibility of covering up to 60 million banknotes but the number of cyphers used varies in response to circumstances and printing requirements. For example, the first run of the latest £5 banknote (series G) was printed on a sheet with the cypher AA01 to AA60 as there are 60 banknotes on each sheet printed. For each cypher there are 1 million serial numbers 000001 to 99999. Therefore for the first AA cypher there will be 60 million banknotes and the next cypher will be AB.  However, not all the banknotes are issued into circulation.

4. The comprehensive list of sequence from the first two letter from the cypher per £5, £10, £20 and £50 notes, i.e. AA, AB and if it goes up to i.e. ZA?

Full details of the serial numbers used for banknotes can be found in the book ‘English Paper Money’ by Vincent Duggleby.