New £20 note: when the new polymer Bank of England £20 note is released - and when old notes expire

Now officially joining the ranks of the plastic £5 and £10 notes is the Bank of England £20.

Monday, 13th January 2020, 12:17 pm
Updated Thursday, 20th February 2020, 12:23 pm

This is everything you need to know about the new £20 note.

When will it be released?

The Bank of England note is being release today, on 20 February 2020, and the Bank of Scotland note will enter circulation on 27 February.

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This is what the new £20 note will look like (Photo: Bank of England)
This is what the new £20 note will look like (Photo: Bank of England)

The UK is joining the list of 30 other countries who already use plastic banknotes, including the likes of Australia, Singapore and New Zealand.

The polymer notes are thought to have a lifespan of double its paper counterpart, and as well as being less likely to tear, they only begin melting at 120C and have also been designed not to be damaged by dirt or moisture.

The plastic notes are also believed to be safer than paper ones.

Security features

Talking to Which?, Sarah John, chief cashier of the Bank of England, said that the new £20 note will be “the most secure banknote yet”.

“The evidence is that counterfeiters find it much more difficult to produce counterfeits on polymer,” she explained.

The note comes with security features including:

- A hologram which switches between the words “twenty” and “pounds” as the note is titled

- A silver foil patch which contains a 3D image of the coronation crown

- A purple foil patch which contains the letter ‘T’

- Raised print - this also helps blind and partially sighted people to identify the note

- Ultraviolet number which shows the number 20 under a good quality ultraviolet light

Phasing out old notes?

Much like the introduction of the plastic £5 and £10 notes, bringing the new £20 note into circulation will be a phased process, with 20 February marking the first day of it entering official circulation in England, with the Scottish notes following a week after.

You’ll still be able to use the old paper £20 note until it’s withdrawn - you’ll be given six months’ notice of this date.

You’ll always be able to exchange your paper notes for a new plastic note at a bank.

Who is on it?

Featured on the new note is a self portrait of Joseph Mallord William Turner, a 18th and 19th century British artist well known for his landscape and marine paintings. The self portrait was painted circa 1799 and is currently on display at Tate Britain.

Next to his portrait will be an image of the HMS Temeraire, a ship from one of Turner’s most famous works. The ship played an important role in Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

His signature will also be featured. According to the Bank of England, the signature on the note is taken from his will, “in which he left many of his paintings to the nation”.

Underneath Turner’s signature is the quote, “Light is therefore colour.” This quote is from a lecture Turner gave in 1818 and is in reference to his use of light, shade, colour and tone in his work.