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Using the euro in the UK

From 1 January 2002, the euro is the new currency in 12 European Union countries - the 'Euro zone'- which are replacing their national currencies. It is not being introduced in the UK at this time but with 13m tourists from the eurozone expected to spend ¯¿½4bn in Britain next year, British retailers have to be prepared. This will therefore benefit you because when you come back from holidaying in Europe you should be able to spend any left over euros in the major High St shops.

Which shops are accepting euro notes and coins in the UK?
Some shops may accept euros as well as pounds as payment since euro notes and coins have become legal tender in other European countries, though there is no legal obligation on retailers to accept them. Shops in major tourist areas and in airports and stations are more likely to take them than others.

High Street shops including Marks & Spencer, Virgin Debenhams and BHS have made plans to accept to accept the euro nationwide. Other chains such as BP, Waterstones HMV and the Dixons group have identified a number of stores in airports, ports or areas with high numbers of tourists which will accept euros.

A number of other High St names such as Boots and Next say their tills and computer systems could easily become euro compatible. WHSmith has already converted its shops at airports to take the euro and says it is working towards accepting it at all its stores.

Sainsbury's, the DIY firm B&Q, Asda, Somerfield and Kwik Save have all introduced trolleys with coin slots that accept euros, and Safeway has said its tills will accept the single currency from August next year. Tesco already accepts euro traveller's cheques.

BT is planning to convert its thousands of public telephones so that they can take the single currency and the company, along with Orange, BP, General Accident and British Gas, all offer customers' bills in euros.

So if shops are accepting them what are the banks doing about it? The shops must have to pay their takings in.
A number of UK banks will exchange your notes (but not your coins) into euro from 1 January 2002. Banks will also provide euro accounts to individual and business customers. Barclays, Alliance and Leicester and Abbey National already do so.

What will the effect of this have on the debate about the euro in the UK?
The informal appearance of the euro is known in government circles as 'euro-creep'. Some commentators suggest that its encouragement will become a central plank of the Prime Minister's campaign to prepare the country for a referendum on the issue. The thinking is that if people are used to being able to spend the currency on their return from holiday, or are used to handling it in their jobs, the fear factor may be removed and that there will be a greater chance of a referendum being approved.

Find out how much a euro is worth with our currency converter.

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