England’s paper £5 note, featuring Elizabeth Fry, was withdrawn from
circulation May 5. A notice from the Bank of England informed the
public that after that date, retailers and the public no longer have
to accept the paper £5 note as payment or in change.
The new polymer £5 note featuring Sir Winston Churchill will be the
only £5 note with legal tender status. Some banks and building
societies may accept paper £5 notes after 5 May, but it is at their
own discretion. The Bank of England will continue to exchange Fry £5
notes for all time, as it says it would for any other Bank of England
note that no longer has legal tender status.
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As of April 5, over half of all Fry notes had already been returned
to be destroyed, but around 160 million of them were still left in circulation.
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The new polymer £5 note was first issued on Sept. 13, 2016, and
while the bank says it is cleaner, safer and stronger than its paper
counterpart, it has not been without controversy owing to the presence
of animal fat in the polymer. It is expected to last at least 2.5
times longer than the paper note — around five years.