Way back when I thought my first visit to a country would be my last visit (because trips are expensive and I have so many places to go and yadda yadda yadda), I would try and spend every last cent, pence, franc or yen before I left for home. No sense in bringing currency back with me that I wouldn’t have any use for.
It’s only been within the last five years or so that I’ve started to keep whatever left over cash I had when going home. I’ll have a need again for euros, yen and particularly pounds. Having money when I step off the plane means I’m not searching for an ATM as the first thing I need to do.
So when packing for my trip to London, I brought my Ziploc bag-o-pounds with me.
I even bragged about it on Facebook:
On our way. I’ll finally be able to spend those GBP that have been sitting in my drawer since our last trip.
To which one of my Anglophile friends commented:
Unless they were pound coins
This led to a conversation about how said friend had to go to the Bank of England to trade in his pound notes for new ones because the ones he had from a previous trip had been withdrawn from circulation. The pound coins he had were too old to exchange so they were just paperweights or nice souvenirs.
The Bank of England even has a website telling how to exchange old banknotes.
The Bank of England counter can have long queues and waiting times maybe up to an hour. Unless you require the banknotes immediately we would suggest sending your banknotes via post.
Our counter at the Bank of England, Threadneedle Street, London, EC2R 8AH is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 4pm. It is closed at the weekend and on bank holidays.
You may need to provide two original identity (ID) documents (one photo ID and one proof of address) for any exchange (mandatory for any exchange of £700 or more). To check what we accept please see ‘Identification we accept’ below.
I crossed my fingers and hoped that the money I had was not on the list. It’s quite an exhaustive list on the Bank of England website.
As it turns out, the 10 pound note I had with me was on the withdrawn list. It was last issued in 2016 and ceased to be legal tender on 1 March 2018.
I followed all of the rules to reproduce images of currency, including not distorting the image of the Queen in any way.
The one pound coins I have with me are also the old versions. They were replaced with a new 12 sided coin on 28 March 2017. There was a 6 month period where both coins were in circulation at the same time The round £1 coin lost its legal tender status at midnight on 15 October 2017. The Royal Mint does say that most banks in the UK will still allow you to deposit the old coins into your account or they can be donated to charity.
Considering that we have bills and coins in circulation in the U.S. for decades, it seems so strange to print a bill or mint a coin and then make it obsolete less than two years later.
So if you have any old currency in your house, better to check to make sure it hasn’t expired before your next trip or you might get a strange look at the store.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary