The cut-off date for using old-style paper £10 notes is fast approaching, with just three shopping days left before the Thursday 1March deadline when they cease to be legal tender.
But figures from the Bank of England suggest there remain about 200m tenners worth £2bn still in circulation.
Returns of old £10 notes have been running at about £85m a week, so it is likely that despite a last-minute rush, there will still be significantly more than £1bn-worth of tenners that will cease to be legal tender from Thursday.
The Bank says the withdrawal of the paper £10 note featuring Charles Darwin is proceding very similarly to the old £5 note. It said: “We don’t expect all notes to be returned as some will have been destroyed, gone overseas or kept as memorabilia.”
When shops and stores stop taking the old notes, it does not mean that if someone unearths one after 1 March they are obsolete. Holders of the notes should still be able to exchange them at post offices or local banks, although they are not under a legal obligation to do so.
Old notes can also be posted to the Bank of England or individuals can visit the bank in person at Threadneedle Street in the City of London, and it will exchange old notes for new ones. The Bank has an open-ended promise to exchange old notes at face value at any time.
The new plastic £10 note featuring Jane Austen came into circulation in mid-September, replacing the £8bn-worth of notes that carry the image of Charles Darwin.
The Bank of England said that if the remaining Darwin tenners still in circulation were laid end to end “that’s enough notes to retrace almost half of Darwin’s journey on HMS Beagle. Or, these would weigh the same as nearly 2,000 giant Galápagos tortoises that Darwin saw on his travels.”
In Scotland, it’s not just the paper £10 note that ceases to be legal tender on 1 March, but also the paper £5 note. In England, the paper £5 note stopped being accepted in shops in May last year.
More people turn up at the Bank of England with old notes than might be expected. The Bank said that since the paper fiver was withdrawn in May, it has exchanged notes for 46,000 customers – of which 27,000 visited Threadneedle Street in person.