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Six months left to use or swap old stamps

Written by: Emma Lunn
The Royal Mail reminds people they have until 31 July to use or swap non-barcoded 1st and 2nd class stamps.

The initial deadline of 31 January next Tuesday was extended to give customers more time to use their stamps.

After 31 July 2023 mail posted with non-barcoded stamps will be liable to a surcharge if they are used to post letters or parcels. 

The move to barcoded stamps is part of Royal Mail’s ongoing “modernisation drive”. The company said the unique barcodes will be used to “facilitate operational efficiencies”, enable the introduction of added security features and pave the way for “innovative services” for customers.

Matthew Parkes, Royal Mail managing director of stamps and collectibles, said: “We don’t want any of our customers to be out of pocket. In order to give our customers even more time to use up any remaining non-barcoded stamps, we introduced a six-month grace period starting from the original deadline of 31 January 2023, where non-barcoded definitive stamps will still be delivered as normal.

“We continue to encourage customers to check their purses, wallets and drawers to find and use their non-barcoded definitive stamps before the final deadline of 31 July. But even if they miss this date, there is currently no time limit on customers swapping their non-barcoded stamps for barcoded stamps via our free Swap Out scheme.”

What you need to do before stamps become worthless

If you have a large number of stamps and it’s unlikely you’ll use them before the deadline, you’ll need to get a ‘Stamp Swap Out’ form. The form you need depends on if you have more or less than £200 worth of stamps.

Less than £200 worth of stamps?

Print and complete this ‘Stamp Swap Out’ form. Send it back, free of charge, along with your stamps to: Freepost SWAP OUT.

If you don’t have a printer, you can request the form to be posted to you. Fill in this Barcoded Stamp form. 

You can also pick up a form from your local delivery office or you can call Royal Mail on 03457740740. You can also pick up a form from the Post Office, but you won’t be able to actually swap your stamps for barcoded ones there. There is no delivery charge for replacement stamps.

More than £200 worth of stamps?

Print out this ‘Bulk Stamp Swap Out’ form. Royal Mail recommends this form and non-barcoded stamps are sent via a secure service with suitable cover. Once filled in, send to: Royal Mail, Swap Out, Tallents House, 21 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9PB.

If you don’t have a printer, you can request the form to be posted to you. Fill in this Barcoded Stamp form. The instructions for sending it back to Royal Mail will depend on the form you request. You can also call Royal Mail on 03457740740. 

Royal Mail confirmed that for those with swaps exceeding £200 using a Royal Mail delivery service – it suggests Special Delivery Guaranteed – it will refund the cost of the service by returning additional barcoded stamps equal to the value of the postage.

What about other stamps?

Not all stamps are being barcoded. All ‘definitive’ or ‘everyday’ stamps featuring the profile of The Queen created by sculptor Arnold Machin are being barcoded.

But special or commemorative stamps don’t need to be swapped out and can still be used after 31 July 2023. These include those with pictures on and which have been printed as a one-off to commemorate a person or event.

Although Christmas stamps are being barcoded, Royal Mail confirms previous years of non-barcoded Christmas stamps will remain valid as a form of postage.

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