Can you legally spend Scottish and Northern Irish banknotes in England and Wales? Find out why a technicality has been causing some confusion…
You may not know it, but Which? Convo editor Patrick Steen is in fact part Scottish, Irish and English. So if he ever wanted to explore his heritage, he might amass a wedge of notes from across the UK. With that in mind, can he spend his Scottish and Northern Irish notes back in London? Yes and no…
When we asked more than 1,000 Which? members whether they thought Scottish and Northern Irish banknotes are legal tender in England and Wales, 73% of people said yes, 20% said no and 7% don’t know. Actually, they’re not, but should retailers accept them anyway?
Are these notes legal tender?
More than half of the respondents to our survey had experienced difficulties trying to spend Scottish or Northern Irish notes in England or Wales. Of these, 26% had been refused service altogether and 32% were given the impression by shop staff that they were unhappy to accept the notes.
So what’s the truth? Well, the Bank of England states that only its banknotes are ‘legal tender’ in England and Wales. However, that’s not the be all and end all. The term ‘legal tender’ has a narrow technical meaning which doesn’t necessarily stop you from spending them. The Bank of England says:
‘The acceptability of Scottish and Northern Irish banknotes as a means of payment is essentially a matter for agreement between the parties involved.’
However, these notes are a legal currency approved by the UK parliament, so shouldn’t retailers accept them?
Your view on banknotes
Some of you shared your experiences on our Facebook page, highlighting the confusion about spending these notes. Eric told us:
‘I tried to pay for something with a Bank of Scotland £20 note in Sainsbury’s, Nottingham and was asked what type of food voucher it was.’
But Brenda thinks the notes should be declined:
‘They may be legal currency but are often refused because of possible counterfeiting. How would a shopkeeper know? We can tell when English notes aren’t right.’
Have you ever been inconvenienced by having Scottish or Northern Irish banknotes rejected? Oh and if you do have problems then any bank should change the notes for you.
Yes (54%, 609 Votes)
No (26%, 293 Votes)
No, I've never tried to (21%, 233 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,135