Polymer banknote

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Australian banknotes in wallet

Polymer banknotes are banknotes made from a synthetic polymer such as biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP). Such notes incorporate many security features not available in paper banknotes, including the use of metameric inks.[1] Polymer banknotes last significantly longer than paper notes, causing a decrease in environmental impact and a reduced cost of production and replacement.[2] Modern polymer banknotes were first developed by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and The University of Melbourne. They were first issued as currency in Australia during 1988 (coinciding with Australia's bicentennial year). In 1996 Australia switched completely to polymer banknotes. Other countries that have switched completely to polymer banknotes include: Brunei, Canada, Maldives, Mauritania, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Vanuatu and Vietnam. The latest countries to introduce polymer banknotes into general circulation include: the United Kingdom, Nigeria, Cape Verde, Chile, The Gambia, Nicaragua, Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico, Singapore, Malaysia, Botswana, São Tomé and Príncipe, North Macedonia, the Russian Federation, Armenia, Solomon Islands, Egypt, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Samoa, Morocco, Albania, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Israel Mozambique, Saudi Arabia, Guatemala, Haiti, Libya, Mauritius, Costa Rica and Honduras


In 1966 forgeries of the Australian $10 note were found in circulation.[3]

In the 1980s, Canadian engineering company AGRA Vadeko and US chemical company US Mobil Chemical Company developed a polymer substrate trademarked as DuraNote. It had been tested by the Bank of Canada in the 1980s and 1990s; test CN$20 and CN$50 banknotes were auctioned in October 2012.[4][5] It was also tested by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing of the United States Department of the Treasury in 1997 and 1998, when 40,000 test banknotes were printed and evaluated; and was evaluated by the central banks of 28 countries.[4]


Polymer banknotes were developed in Australia to replace paper banknotes with a more secure and more durable alternative.[6]

Security features[edit]

A R$10 polymer Brazilian banknote released in April 2000 as a special edition commemorating the country's 500th anniversary

Polymer banknotes usually have three levels of security devices. Primary security devices are easily recognisable by consumers and may include intaglio, metal strips, and the clear areas of the banknote. Secondary security devices are detectable by a machine. Tertiary security devices may only be detectable by the issuing authority when a banknote is returned.[7]


Modern polymer banknotes were first developed by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation or CSIRO and first issued as currency in Australia during 1988, to coincide with Australia's bicentennial year.[8]

In August 2012, Nigeria's Central Bank attempted the switch back from polymer to paper banknotes,[9] saying there were "significant difficulties associated with the processing and destruction of the polymer banknotes" which had "constrained the realisation of the benefits expected from polymer banknotes over paper notes".[10] However, President Goodluck Jonathan halted the process in September 2012.[11]

The polymer notes in the Republic of Mauritius are available in values of Rs 25, Rs 50, Rs 500 and Rs 2.000. The Fiji $5 was issued[12] in April 2013.

In the United Kingdom, the first polymer banknotes were issued by the Northern Bank in Northern Ireland in 2000; these were a special commemorative issue bearing an image of the space shuttle.[Note 1] In March 2015, the Clydesdale Bank in Scotland began to issue polymer Sterling £5 notes marking the 125th anniversary of the building of the Forth Bridge.[13] These were the first polymer notes to enter general circulation in the UK.[14] The Royal Bank of Scotland followed in 2016 with a new issue of plastic £5 notes illustrated with a picture of author Nan Shepherd.[15] In September 2016, the Bank of England began to issue £5 polymer notes with a picture of Winston Churchill; and in 2017 a polymer £10 began replacing its paper equivalent, featuring a picture of the author Jane Austen. A polymer £20 was issued in 2020 with a picture of J.M.W. Turner. The Bank of England has said it plans to change the final note, £50, to a polymer note. Although the new Bank of England notes will be 15% smaller than the older, paper issue, they will bear a similar design.[16][17] Some businesses operating in the UK cash industry have opposed the switch to polymer, citing a lack of research into the cost impact of its introduction.[18]

Timeline of adoptions and withdrawals[edit]



  • In September, Mexico switched the 20-pesos banknote from paper to polymer banknotes. Two more new polymer notes issued in 2006, for 20-pesos (new design) and the 50-pesos.[23]


  • From December 2003 to August 2006, Vietnam adopted polymer banknote in 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000, 200,000 and 500,000 đồng for general circulation.[24]


  • In October, Bank Negara Malaysia introduces a 5 ringgit polymer banknote into circulation, with the same design as the paper version. This was the first non-commemorative polymer banknote to be issued. Both polymer and paper versions were in circulation concurrently.[25]
  • In November, Bank Indonesia switched IDR 100000 polymer banknote into paper banknote with different design than polymer version.[26]


  • The Australian Government agency CSIRO issued a non-legal tender polymer note to celebrate the 80th year of the formation of CSIRO. These notes were issued and distributed to staff members and at selected public events.[27]


  • The Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region issued polymer banknotes for the first time. The banknotes are in $10 denomination.[28]


  • On 13 April, Israel started to issue 20 ILS Banknotes, due to the high deterioration of 20 ILS paper banknotes. The Israeli polymer notes are printed by Orell Füssli Security Printing of Zürich, Switzerland.[29]


  • On 15 May, Nicaragua released new polymer ten and twenty Nicaragua córdoba banknotes to replace their paper counterparts.[30] After an announcement from the Central Bank of Nicaragua in 2008 stated that a new 200 Córdoba banknote would be in circulation, it took the country an additional year to prepare its new set of banknotes. A new polymer two hundred and a hundred córdoba banknote was first issued on the first of June 2009. In December 2009, a new 50 banknote was released, later followed by a new 500 C$ banknote that was issued on 12 January 2010.[31][32]
  • In September, the Reserve Bank of India announced that it will introduce 1 billion 10-rupee notes.[33]
  • In September, the Central Bank of Chile introduced the new series of the Chilean Peso, starting with the redesigned 5000 Pesos banknote.[34]



  • In November, the Bank of Canada introduced the Frontier Series $100 polymer banknote to modernise its currency and reduce counterfeiting.[37] $50 banknotes were put into circulation in March 2012; the $20 note was put into circulation on 7 November 2012[38] with the $10 and $5 denominations released on 7 November 2013.[39][40]


  • On 16 July, the Bank Negara Malaysia put new RM1 and RM5 polymer banknotes into circulation as part of a new banknote series.[41]


  • In April, the Reserve Bank of India introduce plastic/polymer currency note of 10 on a field trial basis in five cities in India.[42]
  • On 22 August, the Bank of Mauritius issued new 25-, 50-, and 500-rupee polymer banknotes which will circulate in parallel with the existing paper notes of the same denominations. The new polymer notes have almost the same design as the preceding paper banknotes, but contain numerous new security features such as transparent windows showing the image of the dodo, numbers printed with magnetic ink which become fluorescent under ultra violet light, and swing features printed in iridescent ink, which change to a different colour when observed in transparency or when tilted. The 25-, and 50-rupee notes are printed by Oberthur Technologies on Innovia Security's Guardian substrate and the 500-rupee note is printed by De La Rue on its Safeguard (formerly Flexycoin) substrate.[43]
  • On 22 November, the Bank of Lebanon (Banque de Liban) issued a 50,000 livres banknote in polymer to commemorate the country's 70th anniversary of independence.[44]
  • In 2013 the Bank of England announced that it would adopt polymer notes.[45]


  • In 2014, the Bank of Lebanon (Banque du Liban) issued a 50,000 livres banknote in polymer to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Banque du Liban.[46]
  • The Reserve Bank of Vanuatu introduced polymer banknotes in denominations of 200, 1,000 and 2,000 vatu.[47]
  • On 5 August, the National Bank of Poland issued 50,000 20 złotych polymer banknotes to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Polish Legions.[48]
  • On 20 July, the Central Bank of the Gambia issued a 20 Dalasis banknote printed on De La Rue's Safeguard polymer substrate. It commemorates "20 Years of Progress and Self-Reliance", coinciding with President Yahya Jammeh's 20 years in office as President.[49][50]
  • On 28 November, the Central Bank of Mauritania issued a 1,000 Ouguiya banknote on Innovia Security's Guardian substrate.[51]
  • On 15 December, the Central Bank of Trinidad & Tobago issued a $50 note printed on polymer to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Central Bank of Trinidad & Tobago.[52]
  • 200 Cape Verdean escudo banknote, made of polymer
    On 23 December, the Banco de Cabo Verde issued a new family of escudo banknotes that honour Cape Verdean figures in the fields of literature, music, and politics. One note in the new series is the 200 escudos banknote, now printed on polymer.[53]


  • The Reserve Bank of New Zealand introduced a new family of notes with improved security features, with the $5 and $10 notes in October 2015, and the $20, $50 and $100 notes in April 2016.[54][55]
  • Clydesdale Bank issued two million 5 pound notes, printed in polymer. It features a portrait of Sir William Arrol and an image of the Forth Bridge.[56]
  • The Royal Bank of Scotland issued a 5-pound note, which was printed on Giesecke & Devrient's "Hybrid" polymer substrate. It was issued to commemorate the Ryder Cup.[57]
  • The Reserve Bank of India announced plans to introduce polymer banknotes on a pilot basis and improve security features to defeat the efforts of counterfeiters[58]
  • The Bank of Lebanon (Banque du Liban) issued a 50,000 livres banknote in polymer to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Lebanese Army.[59]
  • The Bank of Papua New Guinea issued 10 and 20 kina notes in polymer, one to commemorate the XV Pacific Games and the other to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of Papua New Guinean independence.[60][61]
  • The Maldives Authority Monetary introduced a new family of banknotes printed on De La Rue's "Safeguard" polymer substrate. A commemorative 5,000 Rufiyaa banknote was issued in July 2015, and followed by the 10-, 20-, 50-, 100-, 500 and a new denomination of 1,000 Rufiyaa in October 2015.[62][63][64]
  • The Monetary Authority of Singapore issued a set of polymer banknotes to commemorate the nation's 50th Anniversary of independence. It consists of five S$10 notes and a commemorative S$50 note.[65]
  • On 9 September, the Bank of Canada (Banque du Canada) issued a 20 dollar polymer note to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II's milestone as the longest-reigning monarch in Canada's modern era. It is similar to the regular issue 20 dollar Frontier Series polymer note, but the notable features for the commemorative note are the metallic portrait of the queen, based on a photograph taken by renowned Canadian photographer Yousuf Karsh, the metallic symbol including the Queen's monogram surmounted by the St. Edward's crown, surrounded by a garland of maple leaves and the text "A HISTORIC REIGN • UN RÈGNE HISTORIQUE" repeated at the top, center and bottom of the large window.[66]
  • The Banco Central de Nicaragua issued a new family of notes on 26 October 2015. They are printed in polymer, except for the 500 cordobas banknote, which is printed on cotton paper substrate.[67][68]


  • The Government of Gibraltar issued a £100 polymer banknote to commemorate Sir Joshua Hassan's 22 years as Chief Minister in the first half of 2016.[69]
  • The Royal Bank of Scotland issued £5 and £10 banknotes in 2016 and 2017, respectively. The notes were printed on De La Rue's Safeguard polymer substrate.[70]
  • On 1 September, the Reserve Bank of Australia issued a A$5 polymer note with improved security features and a tactile feature to assist those with visual impairments.[71]
  • On 13 September 2016 the Bank of England began issuing the new polymer £5 note, the first to be issued in England and Wales.[72]


  • On 17 March, the Reserve Bank of India announced that it will do trials of polymer 10 notes at five locations in India.[73]
  • The Bank of Canada (Banque du Canada) unveiled a $10 polymer banknote to commemorate the 150th anniversary of confederation. It was issued on 1 June.[74]
  • In September, The Bank of England issued a new polymer £10 note.[75]
  • On 14 December, Bank Negara Malaysia announced the issuance of 2 paper and polymer substrate combination commemorative banknotes in conjunction with the 60th anniversary of the Signing of the Federation of Malaya Independence Agreement with the denominations of 60 ringgit and 600 ringgit. The RM60 note was also made available in a 3-in-1 format.[76]


  • The National Bank of the Republic of North Macedonia issued 10- and 50-denari polymer banknotes as part of a new series.[77]
  • The Bank of Mauritius has issued a 2,000-rupees banknote printed on polymer substrate and with revised security features, while at the same time all previous versions of the 2,000-rupees paper banknote will cease to be legal tender by the end of January 2019.[78]
  • In September 2018 the Central Bank of Uruguay(BCU) printed a special and experimental edition of polymer banknotes with a value of 50 UYU to test reception and to celebrate the bank 50th anniversary, that was in 2017, producing 10,000,000 units.[79]


  • The Central Bank of Libya has issued a 1 Libyan Dinar banknote on 17 February 2019, in commemoration of the 8th Anniversary of the Libyan Revolution of 2011.[80]
  • Bank of Ireland, Danske Bank and Ulster Bank, commercial banks in Northern Ireland, each issued a new series of banknotes on polymer substrate for general use in Northern Ireland on 27 February 2019.[81]
  • The Central Bank of Samoa announced the release of a new 10 Tala polymer banknote in June 2019, to commemorate the XVI Pacific Games 2019 which were held in Samoa from 7 July 2019. The 10 Tala banknote will be the second polymer banknote issued in Samoa and the first carbon offset banknote created from the polymer substrate. The new banknote is one of a kind for Samoa as it will have a horizontal front and a vertical back. The Banknote will feature a see through window depicting the Pacific Games logo, and a tactile embossed feature to assist the visually impaired, both are unique features of polymer banknotes. The standard banknote prefix has been replaced with the special PG/XVI prefix denoting “XVI Pacific Game”. Issuance of the new 10 Tala note will commence the last week of June 2019, and will co-circulate together with the existing $10 tala banknotes which will remain legal tender.[82]
  • Bank of Albania introduced a new 200 Albanian Lek polymer banknote on 30 September 2019.[83]
  • The Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago issued a TT$100 polymer banknote for circulation on 9 December 2019, while announcing that all versions of the paper TT$100 banknotes will be demonetized and withdrawn from circulation on 31 December 2019.


  • On August 17th, the Bank Indonesia issued a Rp 75,000 commemorative banknote in conjunction with the 75th Anniversary of Independence. his is the first Rp 75,000 banknote issued by Bank Indonesia.[84]
  • On October 4th, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority has announced the five riyals banknote will be switched to polymer, replacing the current paper banknote, without any announcement on the other banknotes. The banknote was said to feature more environmentally friendly materials and additional security features, in addition to a much longer lifespan. [85]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Although the £5 Northern Bank polymer banknote was a one-off commemorative issued, unconventionally, in portrait orientation to mark the year 2000, it was in general circulation, with normal serial numbers (the commemorative version has serial numbers beginning with "Y2K", normal versions with "MM").[citation needed] It is the only Northern Bank note currently in circulation which was not affected by the recall of all the bank's notes as a result of the 26.5 million pound raid on its Belfast headquarters on 20 December 2004.[citation needed]


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  2. ^ "About polymer". Reserve Bank of New Zealand. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  3. ^ "A Brief History of Currency Counterfeiting". Reserve Bank of Australia. 19 September 2019. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  4. ^ a b Orzano, Michele (2 October 2012). "BEP confirms 1998 DuraNote polymer testing". Coin World. Archived from the original on 9 March 2014. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  5. ^ "DuraNote polymer film banknotes to be revealed at UK auction". Bank Note Reporter. Paul Fraser Collectibles. 12 August 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 April 2013. Retrieved 7 May 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ Solomon, David; Spurling, Tom (2014). The Plastic Banknote. CSIRO Publishing. ISBN 9780643094277.
  8. ^ "Polymer banknotes". CSIRO. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  9. ^ "FAQs on Currency Restructuring". Central Bank of Nigeria. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  11. ^ "CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA - Press Release - Update on the Proposed Currency Restructuring Exercise 'Project CURE'" (PDF). Central Bank of Nigeria. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 November 2013. Retrieved 13 November 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "First plastic banknotes to feature Forth Bridge".
  14. ^ "Clydesdale notes could win 'banknote of the year' award". BBC News. BBC News. 14 March 2016. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
  15. ^ "New £5 and £10 polymer notes unveiled". Royal Bank of Scotland. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
  16. ^ "News Release - New Bank of England banknotes to be printed on polymer".
  17. ^ "New polymer £5 note is out today - here's where you're likely to see it first". BBC News. 13 September 2016. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
  18. ^ "Payments Intelligence Extract: Who pays for polymer?". Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  19. ^ "1993 - Indonesia - 50000 Polymer note". notes.kompasiana.com. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  20. ^ "1998 - Sri Lanka 50th Independence - 200 rupee Polymer note". notes.lakdiva.org. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
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  22. ^ "1993 - Indonesia - 100000 Polymer note". notes.kompasiana.com. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  23. ^ "Pagina404". Bancodemexico.com.mx. 11 July 2001. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
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  32. ^ "Nicaragua new 50-cordoba commemorative confirmed". Banknote News. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
  33. ^ "RBI to introduce 100 crore Rs 10 plastic notes – The Times of India". Timesofindia. The Times of India. 8 September 2009. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
  34. ^ "Nuevos Billetes". Nuevosbilletes.cl. Archived from the original on 11 March 2012. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
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  36. ^ "Nuevos Billetes". Nuevosbilletes.cl. Archived from the original on 26 March 2012. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
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  46. ^ De La Rue's announcement on the issuance of the 50,000 livre commemorative polymer note Archived 13 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine De La Rue (www.delarue.com). Retrieved on 2014-04-09.
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  48. ^ The Centenary of the Formation of the Polish Legions National Bank of Poland (www.nbp.pl). Retrieved on 2014-07-26.
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External links[edit]