The Bank of England will be withdrawing legal tender status of the paper £5 note, featuring Elizabeth Fry, on 5 May 2017.
The Bank are encouraging anyone who still has paper £5 notes to spend them over the next month. Over 50% of all Fry fivers have already been returned to us to be destroyed, but there are still around 160 million notes left in circulation.
After 5 May 2017, retailers and the public no longer have to accept the paper £5 note as payment or in change. The new polymer £5 note featuring Sir Winston Churchill will be the only £5 note with legal tender status. Some banks and building societies may accept paper £5 notes after 5 May, but this is at their own discretion. The Bank of England will continue to exchange Fry £5 notes for all time, as we would for any other Bank of England note which no longer has legal tender status.
In September this year, The Bank of England will issue a new polymer £10 note featuring Jane Austen. The note will recognise her universal appeal and enduring contribution to English literature. Jane Austen joins Sir Winston Churchill, Adam Smith and Matthew Boulton and James Watt in showcasing British culture on Bank of England notes.
The new polymer £5 note was first issued on 13 September 2016 and is cleaner, safer and stronger than its paper counterpart.
The polymer banknotes include a new generation of security features which make them even harder to counterfeit. They are also resistant to dirt and moisture, and so they remain in better condition for longer. The strength of the polymer material means that the New Fiver is expected to last at least 2.5 times longer than the paper note – around five years.