What will happen to our coins, banknotes, stamps and passports?

We can expect to see changes to our notes and coins following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Here’s what we know so far.

Spread of all current UK bank notes
(Image credit: Bank of England)

The Royal Mint and the Bank of England have now both announced details of changes to our coins and notes – which means we could be using bank notes picturing King Charles III as early as next year.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO COINS AND BANKNOTES FOLLOWING THE QUEEN’S DEATH?

The official producer of UK coins, The Royal Mint, has confirmed we can  expect to see coins with a portrait of King Charles III to enter circulation in Britain - but not for a little while yet.

Chief Executive Officer The Royal Mint (opens in new tab) Anne Jessopp said: “The first coins bearing the effigy of His Majesty King Charles III will enter circulation in line with demand from banks and post offices. This means the coinage of King Charles III and Queen Elizabeth II will co-circulate in the UK for many years to come.” 

The Royal Mint say it’s usual for coins featuring different monarchs to be in circulation at the same time as this, “ensures a smooth transaction, with minimal environmental impact and cost”.   

As yet there is no fixed date when we can expect to see any of the new coins in circulation.  

There are currently around 27 billion coins in circulation with the Queen’s head on them according to The Royal Mint (opens in new tab), which will be replaced over time as they become damaged, or worn and to meet demand for additional coins.

One of each of the UK bank notes in use today, spread in a fan shape

(Image credit: Bank of England)

CHANGES TO BANK NOTES

The Bank of England has also announced that banknotes will be updated to feature a portrait of HM King Charles III, “by the end of this year” and these are “expected to enter circulation by mid-2024”

The new portrait will be on all the existing designs of the four polymer notes which are £5, £10, £20 and £50.  

It’s also been confirmed that “in line with guidance from the Royal Household to minimise the environmental and financial impact of the change of monarch, existing stocks of notes featuring HM Queen Elizabeth II will continue to be issued into circulation”.

The Bank of England said: “Current banknotes featuring the image of Her Majesty The Queen will continue to be legal tender”.  It goes on to say that they, “will only be removed from circulation once they become worn or damaged. They will co-circulate with those featuring HM King Charles III”. 

The Bank of England (opens in new tab) says there are over 4.7 billion banknotes – collectively worth about £82 billion.  

The Queen first appeared on Bank of England banknotes in 1960 – after becoming Queen in 1952. The £1 note was the first one to bear her portrait followed by the ten shilling note – issued in 1961.

With coins - as part of a 300 year old tradition - each King or Queen faces in the opposite direction to the one before, according to the Royal Mint Museum (opens in new tab).  It means new coins carrying King Charles III portrait will face to the left.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO STAMPS FOLLOWING THE QUEEN’S DEATH?

Royal Mail has now announced that stamps will be updated to feature an image of His Majesty King Charles III.  

It said, “new stamps featuring King Charles will enter circulation once current stocks of stamps are exhausted”.

The change will be made to new 1st and 2nd Class Definitive stamps, as well as all those of other values and special stamps will also feature a silhouette of the King.

Unused stamps that have already been issued remain valid for use. These include definitive stamps, (those that show the Queen Elizabeth’s head against a plain background) and special stamps.

Four different postage stamps on brown paper

(Image credit: Getty images)

Royal Mail said all special stamps that have already been announced will be issued, though the launch dates may be amended.

However, as previously announced, Royal Mail will still be issuing stamps with barcodes - and any stamps without a barcode are only valid until the end of January 2023. 

A new royal cypher (opens in new tab) – which is a way of combining the monarch’s initials and title has been revealed. However, this will remain unchanged on existing post boxes according to the Royal Mail (opens in new tab) and post boxes already in production or being prepared for installation will also retain the insignia of Queen Elizabeth II.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO PASSPORTS AFTER THE QUEEN’S DEATH?

British passports will remain valid until their expiry and you do not have to do anything.

However, the wording inside the passport will change at some point.

The first page of a British passport has a representation of the Royal Arms along with the following wording: “Her Britannic Majesty’s Secretary of State requests and requires in the name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.”   

This wording will at some stage be changed to replace ‘her’ with ‘his’ to reflect the new King.

Sue Hayward
contributor

Sue Hayward is a personal finance and consumer journalist, broadcaster and author who regularly chats on TV and Radio on ways to get more power for your pound.  Sue’s written for a wide range of publications including the Guardian, i Paper, Good Housekeeping, Lovemoney and My Weekly. Cats, cheese and travel are Sue’s passions away from her desk!