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Scottish Banknotes

We withdrew more money than we needed from an ATM in Scotland are now in England and Wales for the rest of our trip. The grocery store clerk here in a small town looked askance at the £20 Bank of Clyde note I tendered for payment, and had to get it cleared with the manager before taking it.

Is this common? I thought pound sterling banknotes should be legal tender all over the UK. Should I take the Scottish notes to a bank and exchange them for ones saying Bank of England?

Posted by
7640 posts

Lola, thanks for posting this. I had no idea this could be an issue. I'll be sure to get the cash I need in England before traveling to Edinburgh. I'll be going to London after that.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
9110 posts

Scottish and Northern Ireland notes don't work in England or in Wales or in each other. Sometimes Scottish notes will work just south of the border.

English notes work everywhere.

English banks will swap you out without question.

Posted by
11681 posts

Ok,thanks. I think we have only about £70 in the Scottish notes but we are continuing south into Wales late tomorrow. I will swap them at a bank here in Shropshire before we go.

Andrea---the Scottish notes are really nice, especially the Bank of Clyde ones I got from one ATM. Worth getting £50 if you think you will spend that much in Scotland. My sister and her husband got a bunch of Scottish money as they don't have a chip and pin card so are using more cash. We have encountered a few places that could not deal with their swipe card at all. But my husband and I use either my Chase chip and signature card, or my husband's USAA chip and PIN card and have had no trouble at all.

Posted by
3279 posts

It's been 15 years, but back then we brought our remaining Scottish notes with us back into England. The proprietor at our B&B in York hesitated for a moment when we paid him with our Scottish notes, but then said, "Oh, OK, these are Scottish!" I'm sure he didn't see them every day, but had no problem accepting them.

Back in London, no one questioned the Scottish currency and readily accepted them.

Ed, you said they don't work now -- maybe we had better luck in 1999. I wonder if any of it's a Small Town thing . . . like places in the US who don't want to accept $2 bills or dollar coins, even though they're legal tender?

Posted by
7640 posts

I will be spending 3 nights in Edinburgh, but if I can get £ before I get there so I don't end up with cash I can't use in London that might be a better idea.

Posted by
4468 posts

Scottish bank notes are not legal tender in England ... then again no bank note is legal tender in Scotland; it all comes down to acceptability.

It isn't too difficult to spend Scottish notes in England (not so much notes over £20), but they aren't given back out except maybe in border areas. They go back to Scotland.

Outside the UK they can be difficult to exchange, and the rate might be less.

Posted by
3279 posts

Then again, maybe there's a guy named Clyde McCash, who has a printing press in his basement and is printing up really nice-looking "Bank of Clyde" notes ;-)

Thanks for the information, though, as we'll be visiting Scotland this August, and flying in/out of London. Cheers!

Posted by
312 posts

As others note .. the closer you are to Scotland, the easier the Scottish notes are accepted. After getting Scotland notes from a Clydesdale Bank ATM (yes, du-oh), I try to stick to the non-Scot banks' ATMs, ex: Barclays. Waverley rail station has one or two non-Scot bank ATMs; I tend to go through there on a visit.

Posted by
1239 posts

My nearest ATMs stock Clydesdale note or Bank of Scotland one. Usually I have no trouble south of the border with them at all. If I do, I just smile sweetly, glower, or 'of course they are genuine, I made them myself this morning' depending on mood. The colours vaguely reflect Bank of England equivalents, but most of the time it is familiarity that is the problem.

They have been accepted at small local shops in the middle of nowhere in England and Wales no question, and queried in tourist spots, I would not be too worried about spending them south of the border,

Posted by
30971 posts

Lola,

I've also been told on several occasions that it's sometimes difficult to spend banknotes for Scotland or Northern Ireland in other parts of the U.K. So far I've never had a problem with them, but there have been a few cases where a merchant in England looked at the note with a somewhat odd expression, and there was a slight pause before he accepted it.

Posted by
5461 posts

And one of the more interesting discussions surrounding the vote for independence in Scotland is about what will happen with the currency. Salmond had suggested that there could be "currency union" but the UK Chancellor says no....

So, if the vote goes through, we'll be beyond odd looks and back to the ATM in the future.

Pam

Posted by
11681 posts

We ended up exchanging them for Bank of England notes at a bank in the small village where we were staying. Next stop was a rural B and B in Wales and we did not want to chance any issues.

Note the comments above about getting Bank of England notes from non-Scottish bank ATMs in Scotland. We withdrew cash from an HSBC ATM in Glasgow and they were Bank of England. So I did not have as much invested in Scottish banknotes as I originally thought.

I still like the look of the Bank of Clydesdale €20 notes. I thought about keeping one but that is an expensive souvenir.

Posted by
1217 posts

We got Sainsbury's grocery store to take Scottish banknotes in London, for all that the clerk was a little surprised to see it and said she hadn't seen that before.

Posted by
5817 posts

Scottish notes are accepted in England but as has been suggested you will get less of a "confused" reaction if you spend them in larger chains rather than smaller shops. This is simply a meter of training, assistants in larger chains will, likely, have been trained to be aware of them. I know I was when I worked in stores. Most shop assistants in England will probably hesitate when you hand one over simply because they aren't expecting to receive one, especially the further away from Scotland you are.

There really is no need to get all you cash in England to take to Scotland if only because of the risk it might be lost etc

Posted by
241 posts

Basically, south of Newcastle people hate getting Scottish notes ... esp, esp black cab drivers in London. They are legal, but you'll save yourself a lot of grumbles if you change them to Bank of England notes - any bank will do this - same face value obviously as all £ Sterling. 3 kinds Scottish notes: Clydesdale, B Scotland and Royal B Scotland. We also use Bank of England. Just to confuse... Northern Ireland also has its own notes ....
All £ Sterling is of equal value in all parts of the UK - this is why the banks will change it without question or commission. Scottish people are quite used to "not legal tender" argument in England - not correct - ask a bank. "Legal tender" is itself an odd term in the UK ... this is a different issue ....
The notes might not be accepted - which is thought reasonable and legal under CERTAIN circumstances eg the person genuinely doesn't think they're getting valid currency (tiny shop in the middle of no-where) - not reasonable if a large shop in central London.