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Jul 15th, 2011, 08:09 AM
  #1
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Question on UK currency (England vs. Scotland)

Hello! I am traveling to London and then up to Edinburgh., through the highlands, and on to the western Scottish islands. I read in a guidebook that Scotland may not accept British pounds, especially outside of Edinburgh. Has anyone had experience with that? I will mostly rely on my United credit card, but would also like to get some currency before leaving. I was planning on getting only British pounds, but will see if my bank can accommodate another currency if necessary. Thoughts? Thank you.
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Jul 15th, 2011, 08:13 AM
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"I read in a guidebook that Scotland may not accept British pounds, especially outside of Edinburgh."

Get rid of the handbook as not only are there no such things as "British" pounds, notes issued by the Bank of England are accepted throughout the UK.

Some Scottish banks issue their own banknotes but they are accepted in Scotland and in some places in England & Wales. Northern Ireland banks also issue their own banknotes but they are rarely accepted outside Northern Ireland.
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Jul 15th, 2011, 08:20 AM
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"I read in a guidebook that Scotland may not accept British pounds, especially outside of Edinburgh"

OMG!!!

May I ask which guidebook included that ridiculous bit of wisdom?

(Now, maybe you mis-read something like >>You may have difficulty using Scottish notes in England<< or some such)
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Jul 15th, 2011, 08:30 AM
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well soon Scotland will probably have the euro so then it will be a good question.
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Jul 15th, 2011, 08:55 AM
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Using English notes in Scotland isn't a problem (as PP have said, no such thing as ' British'notes) The reverse situation is where you run into difficulties, as some English cabbies don't accept Scottish notes. But that isn't a problem for you unless you return to London with Scottish money.
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Jul 15th, 2011, 09:37 AM
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So, for more general advice, is it best to trade in Scottish money if you plan to spend more time (or in my case live) in England?
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Jul 15th, 2011, 09:43 AM
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If you are in England after visiting Scotland (or Northern Ireland) go into a bank & they will swap them for Bank of England notes for you.
As previously said, some places will accept them, but not all, especially as they are not familiar with them to know if they are genuine, nor will any of their customers accept them in change, so they are stuck with them until they can get to the bank to deposit or exchange them.
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Jul 15th, 2011, 09:47 AM
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There is however a British pound, correct - and assuming both Scottish notes and English notes are really British pound notes?
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Jul 15th, 2011, 09:50 AM
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The ONLY money issue is related to using Scottish bank-issued notes in SOME places in England. This is merely because some small shop owners don't recognise them and don't know how to check if they are forgeries or not. If you ever find yourself in England with a wallet full of Scottish notes, you could always just walk into a bank and ask them to swap them.

The currency is the same (Pounds Sterling) but the issuing banks, and therefore the design of the notes, are different. In England and Wales all notes are issued by the Bank of England. In Scotland, notes are issued by a few different banks, so there's all sorts of designs floating about.

Coins, on the other hand, are the same throughout the land.

I found this advice on the Scottish Clearing Bank Committee website:
"The majority of banknotes circulating in Scotland are issued by Scottish banks. Scottish notes circulate and are accepted quite freely in Scotland and, for the most part, they are also readily accepted in England & Wales, although branches of Scottish banks there may not issue them. However, you should not rely absolutely on Scottish notes being accepted outside Scotland and this is particularly true when travelling abroad. Our general advice would be not to carry large amounts of banknotes of any description and to make use of facilities such as travellers’ cheques, credit/debit cards and ATM cards for access to funds whilst abroad."
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Jul 15th, 2011, 09:51 AM
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As ever, Google is your friend.

Taken from the Bank of england website FAQs:

Are Scottish & Northern Irish notes legal tender?
In short ‘No’ these notes are not legal tender; only Bank of England notes are legal tender but only in England and Wales.
The term legal tender does not in itself govern the acceptability of banknotes in transactions. Whether or not notes have legal tender status, their acceptability as a means of payment is essentially a matter for agreement between the parties involved. Legal tender has a very narrow technical meaning in relation to the settlement of debt. If a debtor pays in legal tender the exact amount he owes under the terms of a contract, he has good defence in law if he is subsequently sued for non-payment of the debt. In ordinary everyday transactions, the term ‘legal tender’ has very little practical application.

so Scottish and NI notes are NOT legal tender in England and Wales. you will find them accepted in Scotland, but if you are lumbered with a load of scottish notes when you get to england, just go to the nearest bank and they'll change them for you.
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Jul 15th, 2011, 09:52 AM
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>>There is however a British pound, correct - and assuming both Scottish notes and English notes are really British pound notes?<<

It's called 'Pound Sterling', the official currency of the entire United Kingdom.
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Jul 15th, 2011, 09:55 AM
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>>so Scottish and NI notes are NOT legal tender in England and Wales. you will find them accepted in Scotland, but if you are lumbered with a load of scottish notes when you get to england, just go to the nearest bank and they'll change them for you.<<

Interesting quirk – they are not legal tender in Scotland either. Nor are Bank of England notes.
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Jul 15th, 2011, 11:15 AM
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"Legal tender" has a technical meaning: it doesn't define whether or not your money will be accepted, so it's a bit of a red herring.
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Jul 15th, 2011, 03:53 PM
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...so I was having a discussion with some fellow when we were in Scotland and the question came up about whether Scottish bank notes would be accepted in England. My advice was to get rid of the Scottish bank notes and get Bank of England bank notes before leaving Scotland (I do this routinely at the hotel I stay at and they usually oblige if they have any)...but anyway he asked me what if he goes into a restaurant in England, has a meal, and when the bill comes tries to pay with Scottish bank notes? Will he have to give back the food?
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Jul 16th, 2011, 12:09 AM
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" when the bill comes tries to pay with Scottish bank notes? Will he have to give back the food?"

Much the same as if he tried paying with euros (or with a cc somewhere that didn't take ccs). If a restaurant didn't want to accept them, ultimately someone would accompany him to the nearest ATM.

Accepting Scottish notes can involve a higher risk of taking duds. It also increases the retailer's cash handling costs: banks in England levy a higher charge on receipts in Scottish and Northern Irish notes, because they can't be immediately recycled, and in my day weren't eligible to allow overnight lending.

All highly technical, and very rare anywhere foreign tourists are likely to tread. But people running greasy spoons in Leicester suburbs have a range of strategies (not all comfortable) for dealing with "customers" unwilling to pay in real money after consuming their mreal.
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Jul 16th, 2011, 01:33 AM
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The third paragraph above makes a lot of sense!
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Jul 16th, 2011, 03:53 AM
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Really, flanner? Banks charge more for Scottish note handling? I'm gobsmacked by that.
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Jul 16th, 2011, 04:52 AM
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You'd better set Wee Eck and the Boys on to them, sheila.
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Jul 16th, 2011, 05:20 AM
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It may have moved on since I was in the cash handling business, and I honestly can't remember how the Scots/NI banks treated non-local notes. The arguments for Scottish/NI banks charging a premium for English notes are likely to be slightly different,because:
- Scottish customers are happier (or at any rate, quieter) about accepting English notes
- The highly technical stuff about the temporary demonetisation of Bank of England notes (and therefore about handlers' ability to lend their note balances out overnight) didn't in my day apply to notes issued by commercial banks.

How central banks (which the B of E is, and the regional banks aren't) deal with currency issues has changed every few years over the past decade or two, and is subject to some pressure from global institutions. I've given up keeping up.

Don't forget: BofE notes are backed by a government that can't go bust. Regional notes are backed by commercial banks that can and in several cases have recently come damn close: they don't issue them for hokey regional prestige, but because note-issuing makes their (often non-British) owners richer. Such notes are illegal everywhere else except Hong Kong - precisely because there've been dozens of such bankruptcies since the introduction of paper money.

That extra risk is trivial to most consumers - but it has to be factored into the prices other commercial banks pay or receive for helping these notes' circulation.
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Jul 16th, 2011, 07:36 AM
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It's called 'Pound Sterling', the official currency of the entire United Kingdom.>

and thus it is indeed a British Pound!
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