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18th July 2022

Everything you need to know about the new UK banknotes.


2022 has been a wild ride for the UK; full of important milestones.

Queen Lizzy became the first monarch to celebrate 70 years of service, with the Commonwealth Nations celebrating Her Majesty with the Platinum Jubilee. Also in the news, the tabloids fed us salacious gossip about the Partygate Scandal, which led to the former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s prompt resignation as of last week. Over to sport, history was made at the 2022 Wimbledon Tennis Tournament with the world watching as Elena Rybakina became the first player from Kazakhstan to win a grand slam singles title.

The rest of 2022 has a lot more in store for the UK, and July-through-December is full of festivals and events, including:

  • the upcoming Commonwealth Games
  • International Beatleweek (for all you Beatlemaniacs out there)
  • The British Firework Championships
  • Tewkesbury Medieval Festival (jousting, anyone?)
  • and the Robin Hood Beer Festival

… just to name a few.

So, if you’re on your way to the greater UK, you’re going to have to be up-to-date with the most ground-breaking news of all: UK banknotes are changing, and paper notes will no longer be legal tender come October.

New GBP Notes - What’s The Fuss?


As of Wednesday October 1st 2022, Great British Pound (GBP) £20 and £50 paper notes will no longer be legal tender. This means, you won’t be able to use them to pay for anything as soon as the clock ticks over into October. Unless you have a UK bank account and can deposit your leftover paper notes at the bank, spending your old currency will be impossible.


If you have any leftover paper pounds from your previous trips to the UK, visit your local Travel Money Oz store to exchange them ASAP. We will exchange your paper GBP to Aussie Dollars (AUD) until September 30th - so it gives us time to send all the old cash back to the Motherland. 

KEY DATE: SEPTEMBER 30 (FRIDAY) is the last day we will accept and exchange old GBP. We will continue to exchange new polymer GBP.

Great British Pounds (GBP) – The Lowdown


There are four denominations (values) of Bank of England notes in circulation: £5, £10, £20 and £50.

The £5 note and £10 note have already been changed over from paper notes to new polymer (recyclable plastic) notes. These are thin, flexible, and resilient – the same material as we already have here in Australia (as well as Canada, Mexico, and New Zealand too)! This year, the Bank of England introduced the new polymer £20 and £50 notes. The old paper versions are the ones expiring in September.

A physical metaphor: The larger the value, the larger the note. The new notes are sized accordingly, with the physical dimensions meaning the lowest denomination, £5, is the smallest in size, then £10, £20 and with £50 being the largest at 156mm x 85mm. This is a feature that helps those with visual impairments.

Why The Switch?


Changing from paper notes to polymer notes means your money is safer – from scam artists, and from yourself.

The new notes have better security measures to detect counterfeit currency and reduce money laundering – in the illegal sense.

For your sweet, law-abiding self – these new durable, water-resistant, and chewable (yes, chewable) notes also mean that you can accidentally forget to empty your pockets without washing away all your hard-earned money.

The Bank of England claims the new notes will last more than twice as long as their paper predecessors, and that they can be recycled once deemed too old for use.

A bite-sized fun fact: In 2015, a reported 5364 paper £5 notes were destroyed due to being chewed or eaten.

Changing Times - New GBP Notes Feature First LGBTQ+ Figure!

The new notes feature new historical features from the UK.

£20 – From Economist to Artist.
The £20 note features a change from Adam Smith to JMW Turner.



The previous paper currency featured Adam Smith – the Scottish 18th century economist, philosopher considered to be the father of modern economics.

Smith is famed for his 1776 book The Wealth of Nations, wherein he proposed his most prominent ideas – “the invisible hand” (when a person serves their own self-interest, it will unintentionally benefit greater society), and division of labour (we’re all sums of a whole, and high-volume production is more efficient when workers concentrate on one small, specialised aspect) – now foundational economic theories.

Smith is known for creating the concept of Gross Domestic Product (GDP)!

Fun Fact: Adam Smith ordered that upon death, all his unpublished works must be destroyed.




The new note features 18th century Romantic artist Joseph Mallord William (JMW) Turner – often dubbed one of the great masters of painting.

Rather than a photograph, this new currency features JMW Turner’s self-portrait (painted circa 1799), alongside his famous work The Fighting Temeraire.

The new £20 note also features his quote “Light is therefore colour,” which references Turner’s innovative use of shading, light, colour and tone.

Fun Fact: In his lifetime, JMW Turner created more than 30,000 drawings and sketches, 2000 watercolour paintings, and 550 oil paintings.

TIP:  Use Snapchat to see JMW Turner's famous painting The Fighting Temeraire  come to life!


£50 – From Industrial Revolution to Technological (and Cultural!) Revolution
The £50 note features a change from Boulton & Watt to Alan Turing – the first recognised LGBTQ+ person to be featured on a UK banknote.





The previous paper currency featured Boulton & Watt. Matthew Boulton was an entrepreneur who financed engineer James Watt’s invention: the steam engine.

Together, they made revolutionary changes to the efficiency of the steam engine – replacing the waterwheel and horse as the main source of power for British industry, which helped drive the Industrial Revolution.

Fun Fact: The metric unit of power is named after James Watt.




Chances are, you’re reading this on a smartphone or laptop. In that case, you owe it to the genius of Alan Turing – featured on the new £50 banknote.

Alan Turing laid out the foundation for of all computer science, software engineering and artificial intelligence. He also broke the German Enigma Code during WWII – said to have shortened the war by two years, and claimed by Winston Churchill to be “the greatest single contribution to victory in the Second World War.”

His brilliant, pioneering accomplishments progressed society into the technological age we know today and saved countless lives. Some of his inventions (including his Bombe and ACE technical drawings) are celebrated on the new banknote, along with his 1949 Times newspaper quote “This is only a foretaste of what is to come and only the shadow of what is going to be.”

The tragic history: Alan Turing was openly gay in a time when homosexuality was illegal. Because of this, he was charged with “gross indecency” in 1952 and sentenced to the horrifying ordeal of chemical castration – as a result, he died by suicide in 1954.

A progressive future: After many years of campaigning, Alan Turing was finally posthumously pardoned in 2013. Progressive even in death, this led to what has been dubbed ‘Alan Turing’s Law’ in 2017, which pardons all men convicted under historical legislation outlawing homosexual acts.

Now, Alan Turing is the first LGBTQ+ figure to be featured on a UK banknote.

Fun Fact: The 2014 film The Imitation Game stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing.

TIP: Use Snapchat to animate Alan Turing and the Bombe. Sound on. Trust us. 

Futurism – Augmented Reality Cash with Snapchat


We really do live in the future.

These new GBP banknotes are being promoted by the UK Government with a custom Snapchat feature that brings the famous figures to life. Through augmented reality, the £20 animates the landscape of JMW Turner’s oil-on-canvas painting The Fighting Temeraire.

The Snapchat lens also makes the £50 note an immersive interactive experience, with the dials of the Bombe code-breaking machine, which Alan Turing helped developed, turning to show the colours of the Pride Flag.

It’s also rumoured to have puzzles and games built into the Snapchat filter.

These features are region-locked to the UK, so be sure to check it out on your adventures throughout the UK!


  1. Open Snapchat and point the camera at the Snapcode.
  2. Press and hold Snapcode to unlock AR (Augmented Reality) Lens
  3. Once unlocked, hover over new £20 or £50 note (or image of note).
  4. Watch as it transforms – volume up to hear the sound effects!
  5. Take a snap and share – if you share it to Insta or FB stories, make sure to tag us @TravelMoneyOz


And that’s the (English breakfast) tea!


Make sure to swing by any of our stores before September ends to change your old GBP to AUD before it’s too late!

Or if you’re headed to the UK soon, exchange AUD to new GBP to prepare for your next UK adventure.

To keep in the loop with all things travel and currency, sign up to the Travel Money Club and follow us on Instagram and Facebook.



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