The Bank of England has warned people to expect long queues at its headquarters at Threadneedle Street in the City of London as they try to swap paper £20 and £50 notes.
The £20 and £50 paper banknotes will soon no longer be accepted in shops and businesses, leaving people scrambling to replace them with new plastic versions before the deadline.
According to the bank website, it said : “The Bank of England Counter is currently open from 9.30am to 3pm, Monday to Friday and is experiencing very high demand.
“There will be long queues and you may encounter waiting times in excess of an hour. We would ask that you kindly consider the long wait times when travelling to the Bank to undertake an in person exchange.
“If you arrive after 2pm, it is possible you may not get served before we close.”
The Bank also suggested that customers who do not need to use the paper money immediately can send their old banknotes to its offices by post.
Holders of old paper banknotes, including those based outside the UK, have been contacting the Bank on social media to ask whether they will be left with worthless currency.
The Bank said in a tweet: “All genuine Bank of England notes that have been or are soon-to-be withdrawn from circulation retain their face value for all time and can be exchanged with the Bank of England in London.”
Customers can also exchange their old banknotes for polymer versions by depositing them at their own bank or going to the nearest post office, which will take withdrawn notes as a deposit into any bank account you can access with them.
In February 2020, new £20 notes portraying the artist JMW Turner were introduced, followed by the polymer £50 banknote featuring Bletchley Park codebreaker and scientist Alan Turing in June 2021.
These polymer £20 and £50 notes will be the only types accepted by British businesses from October, but the Bank added that some UK banks will accept the withdrawn notes if deposited by a customer, and some Post Office outlets will accept them as well.
Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, a new portrait of King Charles III will be featured on new banknotes,but this change will come in 2023.