Thank you for your recent letter about the difficulties you encountered recently in Romania. Please accept my apologies
for any inconvenience that you experienced.
Scottish Banknotes are not actually legal tender even in Scotland. They are accepted here by way of tradition,
habit and repute. To the best of my knowledge, only Scottish and Northern Irish Banks retain the right to issue their
own banknotes in Sterling.
English Banks also had that right, but by law they lost it whenever they merged. I think the last individual English
bank lost its right to issue notes around the time of the First World War. In every other country only the national
bank or the government treasury department bears that responsibility.
Banks abroad are not allowed to re-issue Scottish banknotes to customers as only Bank of England notes are legal tender
in the U.K. That means that any Scottish banknotes that are presented to banks abroad for payment e.g. in Romania, must be
sent back to Scotland to be exchanged.
Clearly there is a cost for packaging, transporting, handling and insuring such remittances and loss of interest on the
money until they are refunded, therefore there may be a charge made or a lower exchange rate given to cover these costs of
repatriating the notes. Each bank decides its own policy on accepting foreign banknotes from its customers. The
incidence of Scottish banknotes being tendered for payment is likely to be very small in most places and it is probable
therefore that for reasons of these costs and the potential for inexperienced staff not to notice forgeries the banks
will not accept such notes except on a collection basis. i.e. they send the notes to Scotland and await the funds being returned
to them (process may take weeks) before handing the money over to the customer. That is a service which they may only
offer to their own customers and in any
event is unlikely to be of service to the average visitor. Hence the reason that your notes were not accepted.
We always advise our customers only to take Bank of England notes when travelling abroad because of the probability of
refusal. That said many customers find that Scottish notes are accepted in some of the larger European holiday resorts
(e.g. Benidorm in Spain) simply because so many Scots go there on holiday, but these tend to be the exceptions rather
than the rule.
I hope that my explanation has satisfactorily answered your query.
Thank you for writing.
Robert A Macdonald,
Customer Relations Manager
UK Retail Ops-Customer Relations Unit, The Forthstone, Ground Floor 56
South Gyle Crescent Edinburgh EH12 9LE Depot Code: 45 T: 0131 523 5341
F: 0131 523 6551
The Royal Bank of Scotland plc, Registered in Scotland No. 90312.
Registered Office: 36 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh EH2 2YB
Authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.