The revolutionary new 12-sided £1 coin will enter circulation on 28 March, the government has said, starting a six-month countdown to the abolition of the familiar circular £1 coin.
The round £1 will be legal tender alongside the new, more-secure coin until 15 October.
The public are being urged to use their current £1 coins or bank them before they lose their legal tender status.
All businesses which handle cash will need to prepare for the introduction of the new £1 coin, especially the period when the new £1 coin and the old £1 coin are in circulation at the same time; and finally demonetisation, when the current £1 coin is no longer legal tender, after October 15.
The new 12-sided £1 coin’s dimensions are unique.
Thickness: 2.8mm – it is thinner than the round £1 coin.
Weight: 8.75g – it is lighter than the round £1 coin.
Diameter: 23.43mm – it is slightly larger than the round £1 coin, the maximum diameter (point to point) is 23.43mm.
The UK Government estimates around a third of the £1.3 billion worth of coins stored in piggy banks or saving jars around the UK are the current £1 style.
Some of those returned by the public will be melted down and used to make the 12-sided version.
The new style was announced in the 2014 budget and has been billed by the Royal Mint as "the most secure coin in the world". Being 12-sided, its distinctive shape means it stands out by sight and by touch. It’s bimetallic - the outer ring is gold coloured (nickel-brass) and the inner ring is silver coloured (nickel-plated alloy). It also has an image like a hologram that changes from a '£' symbol to the number '1' when the coin is seen from different angles. There is micro-lettering - around the rim – on the heads side of the coin tiny lettering reads: ONE POUND. On the tails side you can find the year the coin was produced. It has milled edges - it has grooves on alternate sides.
And it has a secret high security feature - an additional security feature is built into the coin to protect it from counterfeiting but details have not been revealed.
March 2017 to September 2017
Businesses face particular challenges during the six-month co-circulation period. From March 28 to October 15
- You can accept both coins from your customers.
- Your equipment may be able to accept or dispense both £1 coins or just one. Please check with your equipment suppliers.
- You will need to tell your customers which coins your equipment can accept.
- You should make arrangements with your bank or cash in transit (CIT) provider to return the current £1 coin and new £1 coin in separate packaging.
Other new coins appearing include a Jane Austen £2 coin to celebrate the author 200 years after her death, while another £2 version will remember the Royal Flying Corps. A 50p coin will mark the achievements of mathematician Sir Isaac Newton, a one-time Master of the Royal Mint.