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Published on January 24th, 2020 | by Sam Rose

Polymer Bank Notes Being Replaced Due to Damage

Following the rollout of polymer bank notes in 2016, it was reported this month that a large number have had to be replaced due to damage and general wear and tear.

At the time of their launch, it was suggested that the polymer bank notes we currently use today would be able to last longer and would be of a better quality than the now defunct older paper bank notes.

However, a new report detailed by the Press Association news agency reveals that an estimated 50 million polymer bank notes have had to be replaced since then due to general damage and examples of wear and tear.

According to the figures, around 20 million of £5 polymer notes and over 26 million of the £10 notes have been swapped to avoid the risk of them being damaged further and as a result, becoming invalid for use by the public.

So how have the once believed to be stronger polymer bank notes become less durable over time?

Why Are Polymer Bank Notes Becoming Susceptible to Damage?


It’s suggested that the reason as to why polymer bank notes are being damaged is due to extensive folding, but at the same time, those who have been in possession of a damage note have said that it can be down to general wear and tear.

In other circumstances, it’s been highlighted that the notes are even being affected by foil wear and some cases, holes have begun to appear in the middle of the notes!

However, the Bank of England comment that the new notes were never considered indestructible and that the polymer bank notes were always expected to last an average of five years in circulation, compared to an average of two years for the older paper bank notes.

According to their research, it is “consistent with expectations” and speaking further on the reported figures of polymer bank notes needing to be replaced due to damage, they added:

“While we expect the polymer notes to have a longer life, it is too early in the note’s lifecycle to yet understand the rate of replacement of polymer notes.”

How Can I Replace a Damaged Bank Note?

If you’ve recently discovered that one of your polymer bank notes has been damaged either through accident or other unexplained circumstances, then the Bank of England website does state that you are eligible to have it replaced or refunded.

As a general rule and in order to be able to receive a reimbursement or a replacement note, you will need to have at least half of the damaged bank note to be able to send them.

In order to apply for a reimbursement or replacement, you will need to fill out their damaged banknote application form which can be found here and this will need to be sent along with the affected polymer bank note.

Most claims are assessed within a few days but you cannot unfortunately try to return or exchange a damaged polymer bank note in person.

The bank note will need to be sent along with the filled out application form and it is recommended to send it via Royal Mail’s special delivery service in order to ensure it arrives with them safely and without further damage.

Damaged bank notes should be sent to:

The Manager, Dept MN, Bank of England, King Street, Leeds, LS1 1HT

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