UK currency

Interior of an ice cream shop with a blackboard menu

  • Across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the UK’s currency is pounds sterling.

  • You may see pounds sterling referred to as GBP. The symbol ‘£’ means pound, and ‘p’ is an abbreviation for pence (there are 100 pence in one pound). Informally, people sometimes refer to pounds as 'quid', and pence simply as ‘p’.

  • Coins are available in 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1 and £2 denominations, while bank notes are divided into £5, £10, £20 and £50 amounts. Click here to see what the UK's bank notes look like.

  • For current exchange rates, and to check prices in your currency, XE.com has a useful currency converter tool.

  • Most UK stores and businesses accept cash, debit cards and credit cards. Some retailers still accept cheques, but many don't anymore.

  • In small shops or on buses, you may be asked if you have any 'change' (small amounts of money, particularly coins), as large notes may not be accepted.

  • When you pay for your shopping using a debit card, you may be asked, 'Would you like some cash back?' This is a way of obtaining money from your own bank account, equivalent to using a cash machine (ATM).

  • In Scotland, the currency is the same but Scottish banks print their own bank notes. These are widely accepted in the rest of the UK, but there have been some cases of shops rejecting them.

  • In Northern Ireland, similarly Northern Irish banks print their own bank notes. These can be used in the rest of the UK, but some shops and other businesses may reject them. In Northern Ireland, some high street stores also accept euros (€).

  • You can exchange Northern Irish or Scottish notes for Bank of England notes at any major bank in the UK. Do this before you leave the UK, as it might not be possible to exchange them for the local currency in other countries.