Banknote statistics

There are over 3.6 billion Bank of England notes in circulation worth about 70 billion pounds.

Our banknote statistics

Each year, we publish how many of our banknotes are in circulation and how much they are worth.  We say the number of notes we issue and destroy, the number of counterfeits found, and how many claims we get for damaged notes. And we compare the data with previous years.

Use the icon on the top right hand corner of the charts to download data. You can toggle data series on and off.

Notes in circulation

The total value of our notes in circulation has tended to increase over time with growth driven in recent years by the £20 and £50 note. We measure the value of notes in circulation on the last day in February each year.

The value of banknotes in circulation (£ millions)

£5 £10 £20 £50 Total1 Other notes2
2014 1,540 7,182 36,483 11,025 56,230 3,967
2015 1,601 7,371 38,912 11,788 59,671 4,118
2016 1,645 7,767 41,037 13,157 63,606 4,212
2017 1,912 8,006 43,357 15,601 68,876 4,322
2018  1,910  7,789  42,692  16,508  68,899  4,351  

1 Total is the sum of £5, £10, £20 and £50 notes excluding all other notes. See below.
2 Higher value notes used as cover for the note issues of banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

 

The volume of banknotes in circulation (millions)


£5 £10 £20 £50 Total1
2014 308 718 1,824 221 3,071
2015 320 737 1,946 236 3,239
2016 329 777 2,052 263 3,421
2017 382 801 2,168 312 3,663
2018 382 779 2,135 330 3,626


1
Total is the sum of £5, £10, £20 and £50 notes excluding all other notes.

Growth in the value of our notes in circulation

The two main ways to measure yearly growth of notes in circulation (NIC) are:

  • Peak-to-peak, which measures the difference between the peak levels of NIC (usually leading up to Christmas) each year.
  • Average year-on-year, which measures the difference between the average level of NIC each year.

The charts below show how peak-to-peak and average growth have varied for each of our notes, and overall, over the past decade.

Peak to peak banknote growth rate

Peak-to-peak measures the difference between the peak level of notes in circulation each year (usually in the run up to Christmas).

Average banknote growth rate

Average year-on-year measures the difference between the average level of notes in circulation each year.

Value of banknotes issued (£ millions)

Each year we issue new banknotes to replace unfit ones and to meet any increases in overall demand. The value of each denomination issued are shown in the table below.

£5 £10 £20 £50 Total
2013/14 793 2,141 5,281 2,260 10,474
2014/15 869 2,433 6,202 2,165 11,668
2015/16 977 5,683 5,056 1,831 13,547
2016/17 1,643 4,008 6,382 3,188 15,220
2017/18  386  8,192  3,291  2,169  14,039 

Value of banknotes destroyed (£ millions)

Each year we destroy banknotes that have become unfit for use. The value of each denomination destroyed are shown in the table below.

£5 £10 £20 £50 Total
2013/14 927 2,811 3,821 1,874 9,432
2014/15 1,001 2,351 3,848 1,739 8,939
2015/16 893 5,250 3,547 481 10,172
2016/17 1,509 4,058 3,371 484 9,422
2017/18  1,192  7,785  3,474  506  12,956 

Damaged notes

When one of our banknotes gets damaged we will exchange it, if at least half of it remains. We receive thousands of claims to replace damaged banknotes each year. 

The first chart below shows the number of claims we received and why. The second chart shows how much we paid to reimburse customers.

Number of claims and cause of damage

We receive thousands of claims each year from members of the public, banks, businesses and the police. This chart shows the number of claims and what caused the damage.

Value of exchanged banknotes

We exchange millions of pounds worth of banknotes. This chart shows how many British pounds we exchanged for each type of damaged banknote.

Counterfeit notes

Only a small fraction, typically less than 0.05% of banknotes are counterfeit, that is less than 1 in 2,000 banknotes. Counterfeit notes are created illegally and are worthless. You can identify them by following our guide on how to check your banknotes.

Counterfeit notes are removed from circulation by banks and the police and are sent to us for analysis. These charts show the number we receive each year and their notional face value (they are worthless).

Number of counterfeit notes discovered

This chart shows how many counterfeit notes we receive and their denomination. The figures include both current and old banknotes series. Discoveries of counterfeit £5 and £10 notes in 2017 were almost entirely counterfeits of paper banknotes which are no longer legal tender.  We have rounded the numbers to the nearest 1,000.

Year £5 £10 £20 £50 Total Value (£ millions) Number removed before entering circulation (bulk seizures)
2013  5,000  249,000  435,000  16,000  705,000  12.02  8,000
2014 2,000 96,000 327,000 15,000 440,000 8.26 0
2015 1,000 53,000 174,000 23,000 251,000 5.17 0
2016 2,000 23,000 302,000 27,000 354,000 7.63 6,000
2017 1,000 43,000 397,000 32,000 473,000 9.98 0
2018 H1 0 5,000 204,000 14,000 223,000 4.83 0

Notional face value of counterfeit notes discovered

This chart shows the total notional face value of notes we have removed and their denomination. The figures are in millions of British pounds. They are rounded to the nearest £1,000. Data includes counterfeits of both current and old series notes. Discoveries of counterfeit £5 and £10 notes in 2017 were almost entirely counterfeits of paper banknotes which are no longer legal tender.

Counterfeit banknotes are worthless. Data includes counterfeits of both current and old series notes.

This page was last updated 15 October 2018
Was this page useful?
Add your details...