London Currency and British Money - Pounds

London Currency and British Money

coins pounds pence notes british britain uk england
British Currency - Pounds and Pence
In London and throughout the UK, the Pound Sterling is used as the form of currency. 

One pound is written as £1. This is sub-divided into 100 pennies, ‘p’ or pence – these terms are used interchangeably. Coins available in the UK are 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1, £2 and the very rare (and actually collectable) £5. You may sometimes see the acronym GBP for Great British Pounds.

Paper currency are called ‘notes’, and not ‘bills’ as tin the US. These are available in denominations of £5, £10, £20 and £50. £50 notes are sometimes not accepted by smaller stores due to their high value and fear of forgery, so be aware of this when exchanging your cash. Sometimes a manager may be called to verify £50 notes before they are accepted, even at larger stores. All coins and notes bare the head of Queen Elizabeth II.

Fun Tip: New coin designs are regularly issued, so be sure to check out what is on the back of your coins. The most elaborate designs are on the large £2 coins – these vary greatly; you may come across a design of St. Paul’s Cathedral, another of the Magna Carta, and even a commemoration of the first world war, amongst dozens of others. Smaller denominations of coins also feature unique designs.

Can I use euros in London?

Although, the UK is part of the European Union, where many countries use the Euro (€), the UK has not adopted it as its currency and therefore it is not accepted as a form of payment anywhere.

Are my old British notes expiring? 

A quirk of paper based money is the every once in a while it needs to be replaced and at the moment the big movement is towards plastic based notes instead of the paper that is currently used, but even some of the coins are changing. At the moment the following changes are being made:

  • £1 Coins - The old "round pound" is currently being phased out and a new 12-sided coin was introduced on 28 March 2017 . The current £1 coin will lose its legal tender status at midnight on 15 October 2017 - after this date, shops will only accept the 12-sided coin. 
  • £5 Notes - Paper based notes expired on 5 May 2017, and a new plastic note bearing the face of Winston Churchill is current legal tender - shops do not accept the old paper note.
  • £10 Notes - The old paper based noted featuring Charles Darwin will be valid until Spring 2018. From 14 September 2017, a new plastic note will be issued featuring Jane Austen. Between September 2017 and Spring 2018 both notes will be accepted - after Spring 2018. An exact date for the phasing out of the old paper £10 note was not available at the time of writing.
  • £20 Notes - A new plastic £20 note featuring J.M.W. Turner will arrive in 2020 and the old paper based notes will then be phased out either in 2020 or 2021.
  • £50 Notes - There are currently no plans to replace the paper note with an updated £50.
Please note that this information changes all the time and was correct as of 7 September 2017.

If you have any old, 'expired' currency you can always go to the Bank of England in central London in person who will replace it with a new note free of charge at any time in the future. It is also possible to do this by post at your own risk. Some banks may also be able to do this for you for a limited time after the coins and notes expire at their own discretion.

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