Bank of England Encourages Retailers to Check Banknotes Over the Festive Period


Retailers and businesses will be much busier than normal over the Christmas period and often employ temporary staff, so there is an increased risk of counterfeit banknotes being passed.

To help protect your business, the Bank of England is encouraging all retailers to ensure all banknotes being passed in transactions are checked and to ensure all staff know what to do if they suspect a banknote is counterfeit.

Counterfeit notes are a tiny proportion of the Bank of England notes in circulation; in the first half of this year, around 152,000 counterfeit notes were removed from circulation, relative to about three billion genuine notes in the system. But counterfeit notes are worthless. Failing to spot one could cost a business money and if it is accidentally passed on, potentially damage a retailer’s reputation.

Bank of England Check Banknotes

What features should I check?

There are steps you can take to protect yourself and your customers. Manual checks can quickly and easily be made using the security features on banknotes whenever notes are being passed in a transaction. Don’t rely on checking just one security feature, but check a few such as:

Paper banknotesChecking banknotes

  • The feel of the paper and the raised print
  • The watermark
  • The holograms
  • The metallic thread
  • The motion thread on the £50 note

The new polymer £5 note

  • The see‐through window and the portrait of the Queen
  • The Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben) is gold on the front of the note and silver on the back
  • The foil patches

If you have any doubts, compare a suspect note to one that you know is genuine.

What training materials are available to help me?

The Bank of England provides a range of free of charge training materials; including a booklet, posters, Banknote app, e‐learning training course and deterrent stickers. The Bank has also produced short films:

  • Counterfeit prevention ‐ advice for retailers and businesses

  • The New Fiver – key security features

  • How to check Bank of England banknotes are genuine

What should I do if I think I have a counterfeit note?

Once a counterfeit note is suspected or discovered it is your responsibility to notify the police. This is because it is a criminal offence to knowingly hold or pass on a note that you know or suspect to be counterfeit (the Forgery & Counterfeiting Act 1981 is the relevant legislation).

Counterfeit banknotes are rare – lets work together to keep it that way

More information on the Bank’s anti‐counterfeiting strategy can be found at

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