The nationwide rollout of the new 12-sided £1 coin gets underway today as the government ramps up efforts to stamp out counterfeits.
The new coins – the first new £1 coin to be introduced in more than 30 years – will be produced by the Royal Mint at a rate of up to 4m per day.
Around 1.5bn of them are being produced in total and will be distributed to banks and retailers over the next six months.
Shoppers can expect to start finding them in their change within days.
The Treasury had previously advised retailers to start preparing for today’s introduction of the coin, launching a website to urge retailers and vending machine operators to adapt their equipment and train their staff.
For a six-month transitional period, businesses will need to accept both the old and new coins.
During the “co-circulation” period, the website – thenewpoundcoin.com – suggests that businesses should accept both the old and new £1 coins and keep customers informed of which coins they can accept.
After autumn 2017, retailers can no longer accept the existing round £1 coins and should not distribute it themselves.
But it will still be possible to deposit the old coins at high-street banks and the Post Office.
The introduction of the new £1 coins comes six months after polymer £5 notes became legal tender.
Commercial secretary to the Treasury, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, said: “This is a giant step forward to help stamp out counterfeit coins and save businesses and the taxpayer millions of pounds every year.
“Today marks the start of the six-month transition period, so I’d urge everyone to make sure they spend, return or donate their old round pounds before 15 October.
“We have been working hard with businesses over the last three years to help make this changeover as smooth as possible.”