Paper £20 and £50 banknotes withdrawn as legal tender on September 30 - where can you exchange them

The Bank of England has warned people of long queues and lengthy waits at its headquarters as the deadline nears.

The £20 and £50 paper banknotes no longer be accepted in shops and businesses beginning tomorrow, leaving people scrambling to replace them with new plastic versions before the deadline.

The Bank of England said after September 30, the paper banknotes will no longer be legal tender and anyone who still has these to use them or deposit them at their bank or a Post Office.

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With two more weeks before the deadline ends, the central bank has warned people to expect long queues at its headquarters at Threadneedle Street in the City of London as they try to swap paper £20 and £50 notes.

Although the customers have been reassured that there is no deadline for swapping the notes, the fact that they are no longer accepted at businesses has prompted a rush to exchange them.

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    Expect long queues and waiting times 

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    According to the Bank’s website, customers have had to wait for more than an hour due to “very high demand”.

    It said: “The Bank of England Counter is currently open from 9.30am to 3pm, Monday to Friday and is experiencing very high demand.

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    “There will be long queues and you may encounter waiting times in excess of an hour. We would ask that you kindly consider the long wait times when travelling to the Bank to undertake an in person exchange.

    “If you arrive after 2pm, it is possible you may not get served before we close.”

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    The Bank has also said that consumers who do not have an immediate need for paper currency may post their old banknotes to its offices.

    Old paper banknote holders, particularly those located outside the UK, have contacted the Bank via social media to inquire whether they will be left with useless currency.

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    The Bank said in a tweet: “All genuine Bank of England notes that have been or are soon-to-be withdrawn from circulation retain their face value for all time and can be exchanged with the Bank of England in London.”

    The Bank of England sometimes funds government borrowing through quantitative easing (image: AFP/Getty Images)
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    How to exchange your paper banknotes

    Customers can also exchange their old banknotes for polymer versions by depositing them at their own bank or going to the nearest post office, which will take withdrawn notes as a deposit into any bank account you can access with them.

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    In February 2020, new £20 notes portraying the artist JMW Turner were introduced, followed by the polymer £50 banknote featuring Bletchley Park codebreaker and scientist Alan Turing in June 2021.

    These polymer £20 and £50 notes will be the only types accepted by British businesses from October, but the Bank added that some UK banks will accept the withdrawn notes if deposited by a customer, and some Post Office outlets will accept them as well.

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    Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, a new portrait of King Charles III will be featured on new banknotes, but this change will come in 2023, at the earliest.