You are all, no doubt, aware that the UK uses sterling as its currency. Hopefully you have all made arrangements to change from your local currency before you arrive in London. What you may not be aware of, however, is that some of the UK currency is in the process of changing. This will not affect your stay, but may have implications if you’re not planning to return to the UK in the next few months.
One Pound Coins
On the 28th March, the Royal Mint released a new design for the one pound coin. It is a dodecagonal, two-colour design with a range of built-in security features and it looks like this:
This design is intended to replace the old version of the one pound coin which has been in circulation since 1984. The old version is a round, single-colour coin which looks like this:
As you can see, it has had a variety of faces over the years, but it is easy to recognise if you have an old pound coin because it is round and single-coloured, not dodecagonal and two-coloured.
Why should you care? The important thing to know about these coins is that the Royal Mint has put an expiry date on the old version of the one pound coin. After October 2017, they will no longer be recognised as currency and you will not be able to spend them. For this reason, if you’re not planning to return to the UK in the next 4 months, it is important to check that you’re not carrying any of the old one pound coins before you leave the country since you won’t be able to spend them on your return.
If you find any old one pound coins in your pocket when you leave, do your best to spend them on your last day. Alternatively, try and find a friendly UK-based colleague who is willing to exchange them for the new versions.
Five Pound Notes
Another recent change has been the introduction of the new five pound note. This shouldn’t be a problem since the old note has already been officially taken out of circulation on the 5th May. However, since that was only a month ago, there’s a chance that some of the old notes are still in circulation, even though they’re no longer legal tender.
So, it’s important to make sure everyone can tell the difference. Thankfully this is very easy. The old five pound note is a standard, paper note which looks like this:
By contrast, the new five pound note is a plastic note with a see-through window on the left-hand side and it looks like this:
Bear in mind that the old note is no longer supposed to be in circulation. So, if any shops try to give you one in your change, you are well within your rights to point out this is an invalid note and politely request that they give you a new note instead. If they are unable to do that, you can also request that they give you your change in the form of coins.
In the unlikely event that you do end up stuck with an old five pound note, they can still be exchanged at banks. Either try going to a bank yourself, or find a friendly UK-based colleague who is willing to help you out.