I have a friend going to Scotland and was planning on giving them money to give me Scottish pounds.

I already have all of the Bank of England pounds and don't need any more of those. But the Scottish pounds are another matter.

From what I've read Scottish pounds are issued by private banks. Bank of Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland and Clydesdale Bank. But I also get the impression Bank of England notes are legal tender in Scotland as well.

My question is... what's the best way to get these bank notes? If my friend tries to get them from a currency exchange place at, say, DFW or JFK or whatever is he likely to get Bank of England notes or would he be likely to get Scottish banknotes?

If you make a purchase from a business in Scotland what would you likely get back from there?

Like Vatican city has it's own Euros but you're not going to get Vatican City Euro in change from Vatican city. Only way you're gonna get them is buy buying a proof or uncirculated set.

Also, from what I've read online, it sounds like they use the same coins that the UK uses?

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    It sounds like you're mainly interested in how to acquire the banknotes for a collection. As such, I don't see how this question is about travel. Commented Jul 20, 2013 at 17:40
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    Acquiring banknotes is easy. Just go to eBay and buy them. I don't want that. I want them to have a story. I want to learn something about how the country in question deals with the currency. I want to give my friend a little scavenger hunt in Scotland and I want to hear about how it went. But you know what? Maybe I'll just edit my post and say I am the one going to Scotland. Then will it be relevant, in your mind?
    – neubert
    Commented Jul 20, 2013 at 20:33
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    @neubert Wait for Scottish independence :)
    – Simon
    Commented Jul 21, 2013 at 21:02

3 Answers 3


I used to work in a souvenir shop in Edinburgh. Virtually every day we would have customers asking to receive change in either Scottish (collectibles) or English notes (they continued their travel to England). In both cases we would do our best to help them. I would risk to say that locals are used to such requests so obtaining Scottish notes from retailers should be easy. Some tourists were also requesting to obtain one pound note - it indeed exists but is very rare - eBay is probably the best place to get it... As a side note, due to many visitors from Northern Ireland, sometimes you may come across banknotes issued by their own banks.

As for the ATMs, it is not true that they dispense only Scottish notes. I live in Scotland for 5 years and from my experience and stories from others, I can say that: 1. ATMs of Clydesdale Bank typically dispense the notes of their own issue. 2. Some people claim that ATMs of HSBC, Barclays and Natwest dispense only English notes - I couldn't find a proof, but from own experience I would rather agree. 3. Most of the ATMs dispense a mixture of notes.


There are three banks in Scotland which issue banknotes - Bank of Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland, and the Clydesdale Bank. Each has their own designs. They represent the same currency as English notes (pounds sterling), so there's no exchange rate or fluctuation to worry about.

In Scotland, there is technically (and strangely) no legal tender (except coins - see below). In practice, you will find only Scottish notes are dispensed by ATMs, banks, etc. (although some "English"-branded banks will dispense English notes, as Rabbit points out), but both Scottish and English notes are accepted pretty much everywhere, and (correction) sometimes retailers may give you English notes in change if they've picked some up along the way. In theory, you might be able to get Scottish notes abroad or from currency exchanges, but from experience I think this is highly unlikely, unless perhaps you are exchanging currency in Scotland itself.

In England, English money is the only legal tender. Contrary to popular opinion, Scottish money is not. Many, if not most, retailers, taxis, vendors, and so on will take it, and sometimes you can try to insist, but technically they aren't required to, and sometimes you'll have trouble in more rural areas; as such, folks who've visited Scotland often try to get rid of their notes before they leave. Banks and post offices will take them though, so that's your last resort if you are having trouble elsewhere.

The coins are identical in both countries (correction: as Rory says, sometimes the designs do vary, and as Mike says, they are valid in both).

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    Please be very careful about the definition of "Legal tender" - it is much more specific than many think, and is largely irrelevant to "what can I use in a shop?". However, the answer is correct in effect: Using English banknotes in Scotland is not a problem. Using Scottish banknotes in England is usually fine in the North of England and large shops elsewhere, but is sometimes refused by smaller businesses, taxis, etc., in the South, who are not familiar with them.
    – Flyto
    Commented Sep 28, 2013 at 9:55
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    One very good reason why English businesses refuse Scottish (and Northern Irish, etc) notes is that they are unfamiliar with them and therefore they can't spot a forgery as easily as they would with a Bank of England note. Bank tellers are trained to spot forgeries and so will always accept all pound sterling notes. Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 10:48
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    It’s not true that there’s no legal tender in Scotland. Royal Mint coins are legal tender throughout the UK, but only in limited quantities for denominations smaller than £1.
    – Mike Scott
    Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 18:59
  • @MikeScott good point, I've clarified. Commented Jan 8, 2018 at 13:14

Andrew's answer is not completely correct. In England The only currency that is legal tender is that issued by the Bank of England. In practice all UK currencies do need to be accepted in England and Scotland - retailers have no excuse for not accepting them as all banks will... they have an agreement made simpler as these are effectively the same currency.

The coins are also the same as Bank of England coins, except they may have differing designs on the face, reverse or edge.

Any shop is likely to give you Scottish money, but it could be whatever is in the till. They don't discriminate between English and Scottish notes.

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    Rory, that's not correct in theory or in practice regarding legal tender. In theory, it's not legal tender (check the Wikipedia link). In practice, I've had vendors refuse Scottish notes in England on several occasions, as have other folk I know. It's annoying, and I get frustrated when they do (even as an Englishman! :) but they are technically within their right to do so. Point taken about the coins... I forgot about that. Commented Jul 20, 2013 at 18:23
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    That is what I said! There is only one legal tender - Bank of England notes! Even in England. In Scotland there is no legal tender, but "Scots law requires any reasonable offer for settlement of a debt to be accepted."
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Jul 20, 2013 at 18:38
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    The concept of legal tender is much more restrictive than usually thought. It only applies to the settlement of debt. In the case of ordinary transactions the method of payment is a matter of negotiation between the parties. See bankofengland.co.uk/banknotes/Pages/about/s_ni_faq.aspx . In the case of coins, all UK coins are issued by the Royal Mint not the banks. There are many designs, some of which represent the constituent countries. See royalmint.com/en/discover/uk-coins/… Commented Jul 20, 2013 at 21:45

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