How to spot a fake polymer banknote?

How to spot a fake polymer £5 banknote

Polymer £5 banknote (Image: Bank of England)

The new polymer notes were introduced to combat the and prevent against counterfeits, the Bank of England issued the UK’s first polymer banknote on the 13th September.

These plastic fivers are designed to be harder to counterfeit but that hasn’t stopped criminals from producing fake/counterfeit banknotes.

How to check you £5 polymer banknote?

There are a number of ways to verify and check a £5 polymer note to determine if it is a genuine banknote.

Ask yourself these questions? Remember, do not rely on one feature.

  1. Does it feel like plastic? The newer banknotes are printed on a special thin polymer, which is a light flexible plastic.

  2. Can you see the portrait of Queen Elizabeth? You should be able to see the portrait of Queen Elizabeth through the see-through window, around the portrait should be the words ‘£5 Bank of England’ printed twice around the edge.

  3. Have you checked the metallic image of the Elizabeth Tower aka Big Ben on the see-through window?
  1. Is Big Ben gold on the front?

    2.Is Big Ben silver on the back?

  • Have you checked the three foil patches? There are three foil patches on a genuine polymer fiver:-

    1. On the front below the see-through window, there should be a silver foil patch with the word ‘Five’. When titled the patch changes to the word ‘Pounds
    2. Above the see-through window on the front, there is an image of the coronation crown which appears in 3D. When titled the image produces a multi-coloured rainbow effect.
    3. Check the green foil patch contains the word “Blenheim”. Located on the circular green foil patch. Images are taken from Bank of England

  • Can you see a “5” when under an ultra-violet light?  The “5” appears on the bottom left of the note and appears bright red and green when under UV light.


What Doesn’t work

  • Detector Pens

    Unfortunately, detector pens that are used for older notes cannot be used to detect counterfeit. Detector pens work by a chemical reaction between the ink and the paper, however with newer polymer notes using a plastic material the ink simply rubs off.

  • Ultra-violet (UV) Lamp

    For polymer notes, you will have to ensure the UV Lamp emits light at around 365 nanometres. Use of Light Emitting Diode device like a key fob is not recommended as these tend to emit light greater than 365 nanometers.

    Recommend UV Lights


What to do if you find a fake fiver

If you spot a fake £5 note don’t accept it, if you have one in your possession you should take it to the police.
They will send the note to the Bank of England to verify, if it is genuine you will receive the money back.
If it is a counterfeit you won’t be reimbursed.

If you happen to have information on anyone making, selling or buying counterfeit notes, you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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