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Can You Exchange Damaged Foreign Banknotes and Coins?

- Published on 25th January 2024

Leftover Foreign Currency Bank notes

Returning from holiday often means unpacking, washing, and regaining some sense of normality in our daily routine. But some things can get overlooked – for example, the foreign coins and notes sitting loose in your pockets and suitcase.

In this blog, we’re looking at the options available to travellers who return from holiday to find that some of their leftover foreign notes and coins have become damaged.

Are foreign-damaged banknotes accepted?

If you find a foreign note broken into two pieces or crumpled and damaged, a few conditions need to be met for the note to be exchanged back into British pounds.

You need to have more than half of the note (if not all of it), and the note needs to be recognisable as valid currency – which has not been mechanically altered or damaged. 

At Leftover Currency, our policy regarding the exchange of damaged banknotes can be found on our website – reading as follows:

“All notes submitted for exchange must have at least one completely visible and readable serial number, and cannot miss more than 25% of the surface area. 

We may refuse to exchange banknotes that are missing part or whole of the phrase “I promise to pay the bearer …”. We may refuse to exchange damaged/mutilated banknotes for which it is unclear how the damage occurred, as well as banknotes that were damaged intentionally. We may refuse to accept laminated banknotes. 

When there is reasonable doubt about the authenticity of a banknote or coin, we may refuse to exchange the disputed banknote/coin, which will be sent back at the client’s request and at the client’s expense.”

Most exchange centres and banks approach damaged currency on a case-by-case basis. If you take a damaged £5 note to a bank, they will likely exchange your note for a new one. 

The same is true of foreign currency, though many banks and Bureau de Change centres are already limited in the currency they accept and exchange – further narrowing the chance of your damaged notes being accepted and exchanged.

£5 pound English banknote.

Can you exchange damaged foreign banknotes and coins

Can you exchange damaged or worn foreign coins in the UK?

Moving onto coins, you may notice that some foreign coins brought home from your holiday are worn or even damaged – likely owing to excess time in circulation.

Many Bureau de Change facilities, banks, and post offices do not accept any foreign coins for exchange – regardless of condition.

Leftover Currency is a unique UK-based platform that exchanges an extensive range of foreign coins and notes across 170 currencies. Our convenient service allows customers to exchange multiple currencies and denominations in one transaction.

This includes damaged and worn coins, provided they are still recognisable as valid currency and that a recycling plant or mechanical process has not caused the damage. 

However, as above, when there is doubt about the authenticity of a coin, we may refuse to exchange the disputed coin, which will be sent back to you.

Pile of foreign coins

Can you exchange damaged foreign banknotes and coins

Can you still exchange old and outdated foreign currency in the UK?

So, what about coins and notes which are relatively unscathed, but which have fallen out of circulation over the years?

Countless households across the UK are guilty of hoarding foreign currency from holidays over the years, with hundreds of thousands of pounds believed to be sitting in drawers, suitcases, and forgotten change pots.

Those coins and notes which are no longer in circulation can be difficult to exchange in traditional outlets such as banks and post offices – which is why more and more customers are heading straight to Leftover Currency’s online platform. 

You can exchange old foreign coins at Leftover Currency, including obsolete and pre-euro currencies. To do this, simply head to our website and search for your currency, then complete the exchange request process as usual.

Out of date French Currency.

Can you exchange damaged foreign banknotes and coins

The benefits of exchanging foreign currency online

When you use an online exchange service like Leftover Currency, you benefit from internet-leading exchange rates amid a plethora of different options. 

Customers who exchange via our website can exchange multiple currencies in a single transaction. You can also benefit from our in-house sorting service, making changing your money back into British pounds even quicker and more convenient.

What’s more, the funds from your exchange can be paid directly into your bank account or donated to one of our partner charities, with customers able to choose from over 100 charities we support.

Finally, at Leftover Currency, customers can enjoy a reliable service which gives them great bang for their buck – provided the foreign currency meets the terms and conditions as outlined on our website. 

Find out more about the different currencies we accept and exchange on our website. 

If you know about a currency we don’t currently list, let us know! We’re already looking to expand our services and grow our currency list. 


Mario Van Poppel

Mario Van Poppel is the founder and director of Leftover Currency. What started as a hobby, collecting world banknotes, evolved into a fulltime job, running a successful online bureau de change. Mario is still a collector of pre-Euro banknotes and a member of the IBNS.