The new polymer £10 note featuring Jane Austen is now officially in circulation.

The banknote – the first in the UK with a tactile feature to help blind and partially sighted consumers – was issued this morning by the Bank of England.

Just over a billion new £10 notes have been printed and members of the public will start to see them in the next few days as they leave cash centres and enter general circulation.

The Jane Austen tenner joins the £5 note featuring Sir Winston Churchill in the Bank of England’s first series of polymer notes.

A new £20 note with the image of JMW Turner will to follow in 2020.

Polymer notes are expected to last at least 2.5 times longer than the old paper notes and stay in better condition during day-to-day use.

More than a billion new £10 notes have been printed ready for their launch today

They also come with a number of security features that make them far more difficult for counterfeiters to copy.

On the £10 note, these include a clear window with the Queen’s portrait, a hologram that shows the words ‘Ten’ and ‘Pounds’ and a book-shaped copper foil patch with the initials JA.

It also has a series of raised dots in its top left-hand corner to help blind and partially sighted people identify the denomination.

It is wonderful to see the inspirational author Jane Austen celebrated on the new £10

Victoria Cleland, chief cashier, Bank of England
Atom 286 lives here

Victoria Cleland (pictured, top), the Bank of England’s chief cashier, said: “Today is an exciting day.

“It is wonderful to see the inspirational author Jane Austen celebrated on the new £10, and even more poignant being launched during the 200th anniversary of her death.

“I am grateful to the cash industry for their support in bringing the cleaner, safer, stronger notes to the public.”

The old paper notes featuring Charles Darwin will be gradually withdrawn from circulation and will cease being legal tender sometime in spring 2018.

Until the exact withdrawal date is announced, the public should continue to use them as normal.

Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, said: “Our banknotes serve as repositories of the country’s collective memory, promoting awareness of the United Kingdom’s glorious history and highlighting the contributions of its greatest citizens.

“The new £10 note celebrates Jane Austen’s work. Austen’s novels have a universal appeal and speak as powerfully today as they did when they were first published.”

Last month, the Bank confirmed that its polymer notes would continue to contain trace amounts of chemicals derived from animal fat despite complaints from the public.