1. Check the paper and the raised print
Banknotes are printed on special paper that gives them their unique feel. By running your finger across the front of the new-style £20 note, you can feel raised print in areas such as the words “Bank of England” and in the bottom right corner, around the figure 20.
2. Check the metallic thread
There is a metallic thread embedded in every banknote. This appears as silver dashes on the back of the new-style £20 note. If you hold the note up to the light, the metallic thread will appear as a continuous dark line.
3. Check the watermark
Hold the note up to the light with the front of the note facing you. In the clear area on the left, you will see an image of the Queen’s portrait together with a bright £20. This can also be viewed from the back of the note.
4. Check the print quality
The printed lines and colours on banknotes are sharp, clear and free from smudges or blurred edges.
5. Check the holographic strip
The position of the strip is the same on each note. It has a number of foil patches along its length which contain alternating holographic images. The positioning of the patches varies along the strip. When the note is tilted, one hologram shows a multi-coloured image of Adam Smith, the other changed between a multi-coloured pound sign and the figure 20. The figure 20 is also embossed on the strip, and is positioned in the same place on every note – just to the right of the signature of the Chief Cashier.
6. Check the ultra-violet features
If you put the note under a good quality ultra-violet light and look at the front, the figure 20 appears in bright red and green while the background is dull in contrast. Randomly spread bright red and green flecks are also visible on both the front and back of the note.
7. Check the microlettering
Using a magnifying glass, look closely at the lettering beneath the Queen’s portrait – you will see the value of the note written in small letters and numerals.
8. See-through register
Hold the note up to the light and you will see coloured irregular shapes printed on the front and back of the note that combine to from the pound sterling symbol.
Can I still use the old-style £20 note?
You can continue to use the old-style note, featuring Sir Edward Elgar, until it is withdrawn from circulation. Genuine Bank of England notes that have been withdrawn from circulation retain their face value for all time and can be exchanged with the Bank of England.