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The issue of trying to use Scottish money in England with no success is a delicate one. According to a survey, a third of Britons are certain they cannot use their Scottish banknotes in England. But are they right?
Let’s discuss what legal tender is and whether or not Scottish notes are accepted in other parts of the United Kingdom.
The shortest of answers is ’Yes, but no business is legally obliged to accept your money’’. In England, no business is legally forced to accept banknotes printed by the Scottish and Northern Irish banks.
On the same note, if you – let’s say – receive change in the form of Scottish notes in England, you don’t have to accept them either. All in all, it’s up to the businesses whether or not they accept these banknotes because they’re not legal tender.
Legal tender is a very narrow term and it refers to coins or banknotes that must be accepted if offered as payment (most often as a way to pay a debt). What is and is not legal tender in England has long been a topic of debate. What is considered legal tender varies throughout the United Kingdom.
In England, Royal Mint coins and Bank of England banknotes are classed as legal tender, whereas in Scotland and Northern Ireland, only Royal Mint coins are classed as legal tender.
The seven Scottish and Northern Irish banks are authorized to issue banknotes. They make up the majority of banknotes used in these parts of the United Kingdom but they are not classified as legal tender in England or anywhere else in the U.K., for that matter. As discussed earlier, neither do Bank of England notes are considered legal tender in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The fact that Scottish money is not legal tender in England is just one of the many reasons why you risk being refused. Here are the other most common ones:
If you’re trying to spend Scottish money in England with no success, there’s no need to despair. To make your life easier and get rid of the stress, you can swap them at any major bank for English notes. Nonetheless, you should have no issues shopping at major retailers. Scottish banknotes are usually accepted the closer you are to the border (in Newcastle, for example).
The Committee of Scottish Bankers advises those that own Scottish money to not rely absolutely on these notes outside Scotland, especially when travelling abroad. Do not carry large banknotes and make use of credit/debit cards and traveller’s cheques instead.
As you can see, there are two sides to the matter. For one, Scottish money is technically and legally allowed for paying goods and services throughout the United Kingdom. On the other hand, the practical reality shows us that consumers still have problems using their Scottish banknotes and coins and they can’t do anything about it.
Scottish banknotes are legal currency, so how come banknotes that should be accepted everywhere are not? This just goes to show how much of a technicality legal tender is. For your own peace of mind, swap any Scottish money you have for English banknotes to avoid any inconvenience when travelling south of the border. And as a last surprising fact, it’s also true that Scottish banknotes are not legal tender even in Scotland.