The new £5 note entered circulation this week

Three years since the public consultation, and a year since the £20 was revealed to be the next note to have a makeover, 13th September marks the day that the new £5 polymer bank note enters into circulation.

The note, which features Winston Churchill, will begin to be available from today in cash machines and bank counters across the country.

What’s it made of?

The new £5 note is made from polymer, a thin, flexible plastic material. Polymer is resistant to dirt and moisture, and lasts around 2.5 times longer than paper.

The Bank of England said this has allowed it to introduce a new generation of security features, making it even harder to counterfeit.

The new notes will also have tiered sizing, bold numerals and a similar colour palette to the current notes to help blind and visually impaired people tell the difference between them. Polymer £10 and £20 notes will also have a tactile feature created by a series of raised dots. People with visual impairments will be able to tell the £5 note apart because it does not have this feature.


What will happen to the paper £5 note?

The paper banknotes will be gradually withdrawn as they are banked by retailers and businesses. They will be legal tender until 5 May 2017, so you can continue to spend them until then. After this deadline you will have to exchange any paper £5 notes at the Bank of England.

“The New Fiver, made of polymer, will be cleaner, safer and stronger. Resistant to dirt and moisture, it will stay in good condition for longer. The new security features make it harder to counterfeit. While the use of polymer means it can better withstand being repeatedly folded into wallets or scrunched up inside pockets and can also survive a spin in the washing machine,” said the Governor of Bank of England.

“We expect polymer notes to last at least two-and-a-half times longer than the current generation of fivers and therefore reduce future costs of production,” he added.

The Governor also highlighted the presence of Churchill on the note:

The New Fiver commemorates one of the greatest statesmen of all time, Winston Churchill, who remarked that ‘a nation that forgets its past has no future’. Banknotes are repositories of the United Kingdom’s collective memory, and we will be reminded of Churchill’s enormous contributions as he once again becomes part of our daily lives as The New Fiver flows out into tills and pockets.

Hopefully this will go a long way to ensuring that more people know who are the luminaries on the banknotes. A recent study revealed that six-out-of-ten people didn’t know who the people on the notes were.

Thankfully, there’s a handy infographic to help.

Related reading