TIME has been called on the old £5 notes – but what do you do if you find one tucked away in your purse or pocket?

Well although the old cotton fivers are no longer legal tender in the UK after May 5, when they became replaced with the new polymer version, they won’t become completely worthless overnight.


So if you’re holding an old £5 note after the cut-off, you still have options for cashing it in.

Basically you will no longer be able to spend old £5 notes in shops and likewise if you receive a cotton £5 note as change, you can refuse it and ask for a new version instead.

But you can still deposit your old £5 notes directly into your UK bank account at any post office. According to the Post Office, around 99 percent of UK account holders can use this service.

Alternatively, your bank or building society may be able to help you at your local branch.

Consumer watchdog Which? has confirmed the following services from major banks will be offered after 5 May:

  • HSBC: customers will be able to deposit old fivers into their accounts
  • Royal Bank of Scotland: customers can swap old fivers for new polymer notes or deposit them into their accounts
  • Lloyds: customers are able to either swap their old fivers for new notes, or deposit them
  • Barclays: customers can deposit old fivers directly into their accounts

Bank of England

Eventually banks and building societies may stop accepting the old £5 banknotes but there’s no time limit on swapping them with the Bank of England. For every banknote it has ever issued, the Bank of England guarantees its face value – even if the note has been out of circulation for decades.

If you would like to swap your old fivers for new notes, you can take your stash to the Bank of England counter located at: Threadneedle Street London, EC2R 8AH.

The Bank will exchange any outdated British currency free of charge, either providing you with new banknotes or depositing the value into your bank account.

For sums over £999, you’ll be asked to show valid ID and proof of your address.

If you can’t make it to the counter in person, you can swap your cash with the Bank of England via mail. You need to send the old notes, as well as a signed Postal Banknote Exchange form from the Bank of England website, to: Department NEX Bank of England, Threadneedle Street, London EC2R 8AH

If you’re sending £1,000 or more, you’ll also need to include a copy of your ID and proof of address.

You can choose to have the Bank of England mail you updated banknotes (to the value of £50), deposit the money in your account or send you a cheque. Keep in mind that sending money by letter can be risky.

The Royal Mail warns that you may not be entitled to compensation if your cash goes missing unless you use its guaranteed delivery service. All money should be packaged so that its not visible and nothing on the envelope should indicate that money is inside.