Barbados’ New Banknotes: Your Questions Answered

Author(s): Central Bank Of Barbados

Created 24 Mar, 2022
Tags Polymer Banknotes
Categories General Press Release
Views: 1901

Central Bank of Barbados Governor Cleviston Haynes recently announced that in December 2022, the Bank will introduce a new series of Barbadian banknotes printed on polymer. In preparation for the switch, here are the answers to some questions you may have.

Why is the Central Bank changing the money? Didn’t we just change it a few years ago?

Central Banks around the world upgrade their banknotes periodically to try to stay ahead of counterfeiters. Technology has increased significantly since 2013, when the Central Bank of Barbados last changed Barbados’ banknotes, so we decided it was time to upgrade our notes to incorporate strong new security features that are harder for counterfeiters to simulate but easier for you to use to authenticate your notes.

We also took the opportunity to modernise the design of Barbados’ currency and to switch to a substrate that is more durable.

Why bother with new money when Barbados and the rest of the world is moving away from cash?

While Barbados is trying to reduce the use of cash, the goal is less-cash and not cashless. Cash remains a popular way to pay – in 2020, there were 27 million notes in circulation with a face value of $816 million. 

Even as more people begin to use digital payments, there will still be a need for cash, so the Bank will continue to ensure that it is not only available, but also as secure as possible.

When will the new notes go into circulation?

The new notes will go into circulation in December 2022.

Won’t introducing this new series put more notes into circulation than there should be?

No. While you may not realise it, the Central Bank of Barbados regularly takes unfit notes (notes that are old, torn, soiled, or defaced) out of circulation and replaces them with new notes. In this case, we will be using the new polymer notes to replace these unfit paper ones.

Why is the Bank switching to polymer?

Changing to polymer will allow the Bank to incorporate new and enhanced security features that are specific to that material. This change will make the notes harder to replicate but easier to authenticate.

In addition, polymer banknotes are more durable. We expect the notes to last two to three times longer than paper banknotes, which will result in significant cost savings for the Bank in the medium to long-term.

The increased durability also means that the Bank will have to destroy fewer damaged notes, which is better for the environment. Moreover, the polymer on which the notes are printed can also be recycled and turned into other products. 

Other countries have been using polymer for years. Why is Barbados only now switching to polymer?

Polymer banknotes are not new, but in recent years there have been significant technological advancements that allow for stronger security features to be built into the substrate. Because of these enhancements, we felt it was time to make the switch.

The fact that polymer banknotes are more durable and last two to three times as long as paper banknotes was also a factor in our decision.

Is there a problem with counterfeits? Is that why we’re switching?

No. Incidences of counterfeiting in Barbados are generally quite low. However, the Bank believes it is better to prevent a problem than to correct one, so we are introducing this new series in an attempt to stay ahead of counterfeiters.

Will the new notes be impossible to counterfeit?

No note is counterfeit-proof because once someone accepts a fake note, the counterfeiter has been successful. However, the new polymer notes will include security features that are harder to simulate while at the same time easier to authenticate. This means that if you pay attention when making cash transactions, you will quickly spot when something isn’t right.

Remember, no matter how secure banknotes are, you still need to do your part and check your money as soon as you receive it.

Will these notes have the same value as the older ones?

Yes. The design and material are changing, but the value will remain the same as previous series.

How much do the new notes cost?

Polymer notes are more expensive than paper notes, but because of their longer lifespan – they typically last two to three times as long as paper banknotes – the Bank will see cost savings in the medium to long-term. 

What will happen to the older notes? Will people still be able to spend them?

Yes. You can continue to use your older banknotes.  The Central Bank of Barbados will have the polymer notes and the paper notes co-circulating for a while. Eventually, however, the paper notes will be phased out and only the new polymer will be in circulation. 

Will the notes be the same colour as before?

Yes. Each denomination will still be the same colour as before, but the shades will be somewhat different and the colours will be brighter to make them easier for people with low vision to distinguish between denominations.

Will the notes have the same people on them?

Yes. The faces on the banknotes will remain the same, as will the images on the back, each of which is connected to the iconic Barbadian featured on the front. The way these images appear on the banknotes will change, however, and we will be including additional elements that further celebrate Barbados’ history, geography, and culture.

Will the notes be the same size?


Will the new notes have features for the visually impaired?

Yes. Switching to polymer allows the Bank to more easily incorporate tactile features that blind and visually impaired persons can use to distinguish between denominations. The Bank worked with members of the visually impaired community to ensure that the features that were chosen were ones that they prefer.

Why change the design? Why not use the same design on polymer?

Having two banknote series that are identical in appearance but have different security features could easily create confusion, so we decided the best course of action would be to introduce notes that are distinctly different, while at the same time maintaining some elements for continuity. In addition, banknote design trends have changed significantly over the last decade, so we decided to use the opportunity to modernise the look of Barbados’ notes.

Will all of the notes go into circulation at the same time?

Yes. However, even after the polymer notes are issued, they will be in co-circulation with the older paper banknotes, so you can continue to spend the older notes that you have.

Why introduce plastic money when Barbados is trying to get rid of plastic?

Polymer banknotes are more durable and typically last two to three times as long as paper banknotes, which means that the Central Bank of Barbados will have to replace the notes in circulation less often. In addition, the polymer substrate is recyclable, so when the notes are eventually removed from circulation and destroyed, the material can be used to make other products. This combination makes polymer an environmentally friendly option. 

Is it true that polymer can’t be torn?

No. While polymer notes are generally difficult to tear, it is possible, especially if the note already has a slight cut in it. That is why it is important not to staple polymer banknotes or poke holes in them.

Can polymer notes be folded?

Yes. Polymer notes can be folded in wallets or purses. However, people who like to crumple or “ball up” their notes will find that this is not as easy to do with polymer. The Bank prefers that people not do this with either paper or polymer notes, as this damages the banknotes and means that they will need to be replaced sooner.

Can I staple the notes to a document, like my utility bill?

You should avoid stapling polymer notes as this causes small tears or holes that can easily spread further, damaging the features of the note and making it unfit for circulation.

Won’t polymer notes melt in a hot country like Barbados?

Polymer banknotes have been tested under various conditions and have been shown to withstand high temperatures, so there is no reason to be concerned about their ability to withstand Barbados’ climate.

What happens if I leave my money in my pocket and it gets washed or put in the dryer? What happens if it’s in my pockets when I iron my clothes?

While polymer has been shown to withstand high temperatures, you should try to avoid placing the notes in washing machines or dryers or leaving them in your pockets when you are ironing, as this may alter the security features of the notes.

Is it true that polymer notes stick together and are hard to count?

Brand new polymer notes just like brand new paper notes may stick together initially. However, once the notes have been in circulation for a while, this will no longer be a problem. To stop your polymer notes from sticking together, gently fan or shuffle your notes when you receive them.

Will the new money work in ATMs and vending machines?

Yes. ATMs, and machines that accept cash such as vending machines and payment kiosks will accept the polymer notes once they have been calibrated to do so. The Bank will work with operators in the months leading up to the notes being issued to ensure they are ready to accept and dispense the new notes.

Will stores still accept older notes?

Yes. All banknotes issued by the Central Bank of Barbados remain legal tender.  We anticipate that there will continue to be large quantities of older notes in circulation for an extended period. As such, financial institutions, retailers, and other businesses should continue to accept them.

How long will I be able to spend the old notes?

The older notes will continue to be legal tender, so the Central Bank of Barbados has not set any deadline for you to use them.

Will ATMs and vending machines need to be recalibrated?

Yes. The Bank will work with ATM, vending, and other cash-acceptor machine operators to ensure their machines are recalibrated before the new banknotes go into circulation. If you own or operate a machine that accepts banknotes, please contact the Bank via email at, or by phone at 227-8114, 227-8105, or 227-8125.

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