Canada’s new $20 polymer bank note has now begun making its way into banks, stores and wallets across the country. It is the third Canadian polymer note to enter circulation.
The $20 note is the most popular denomination — accounting for about half of all bank notes circulating in Canada. You will now be much more likely to come across a polymer note at your grocery store or ATM. When you spot one for the first time, chances are you will see and feel the difference immediately.
So what makes polymer so special? Why did the Bank of Canada choose polymer notes over cotton-paper ones? And what about the story of polymer notes melting—is there any truth to this?
Why go with polymer?
The most important reason for a central bank to re-design notes is to help stay ahead of counterfeiting. The Polymer series is the most secure series of bank notes ever issued by the Bank of Canada. They will also have a reduced environmental impact, as fewer notes will need to be manufactured and transported over the life of the series.
Our new notes have innovative security features, including a unique combination of transparency and complex holography. They expand the frontiers of bank note security, as they are the most advanced ever issued in Canada and among the most secure in the world.
Polymer is a unique, smooth, and durable film specifically designed for bank notes. Our new polymer notes will last at least two-and-a-half times longer than paper notes. And while polymer is new for Canadian bank notes, it has been used by over 30 countries around the world, some since the 1980s.
The Bank of Canada conducted extensive and rigorous testing of the new polymer notes prior to issuing them.
They were tested in extremely cold temperatures (-75°C/-103°F) and extremely hot (140°C/284°F) temperatures. They do not melt under normal circulating conditions. Polymer notes will stand up to the most extreme temperatures of Canada’s hottest summers and coldest winters.
Moreover, polymer bank notes have been used in many other countries which have climates far hotter than Canada, such as Australia, Mexico and Singapore.
While polymer notes are durable, they are not indestructible and should be handled with a bit of care. All notes, paper or polymer, are best kept flat, not folded. To help keep your polymer notes in top-notch condition, don’t crease, crumple or staple them. But if you come across crumpled or creased notes, flatten them by applying pressure or by curling them in your hand.