Save, make, understand money

Household Bills

Six weeks left to use old stamps

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

Anyone with old, non-barcoded stamps is urged to use them ahead of 31 July 2023, or swap them for barcoded ones instead.

Mail sent after 31 July using non-barcoded ‘definitive stamps’ will be invalid and subject to a surcharge.

This is because it will be treated in the same way as insufficient or no postage, though the Royal Mail has yet to disclose further details of this surcharge.

As such, anyone with a 1st or 2nd class non-barcoded stamp – or with other values – featuring the profile of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth should use them by Monday 31 July 2023.

But if you’re not able to use them ahead of this deadline, you can swap them via the Royal Mail’s free Swap Out scheme which opened in March last year. There’s currently no deadline to exchange them.

Non-barcoded Christmas and other special stamps with pictures will continue to be valid for postage and should therefore not be submitted for the swap out scheme. See the image below:

How to swap out non-barcoded stamps

There are four different ways to get a standard ‘swap out’ form for stamps worth up to £200:

  • From the Royal Mail website where you can download a form. If you don’t have a printer, you can fill in a web form to request a form to be posted to you
  • Call the Royal Mail Customer Experience team on 03457 740740 and request a form to be posted to you
  • Visit one of more than 1,200 local delivery office Customer Service Points, where you can pick up a form in person
  • From Post Office branches nationwide.

If you pick up a form from the delivery office, Post Office or request for one to be sent to you, you’ll receive a freepost envelope. If you’ve printed out the form, address the envelope to Freepost SWAP OUT.

For those with more than £200 worth of non-barcoded everyday stamps, you’ll need to request and complete a Bulk Stamp Swap Out form.

Royal Mail said it aims to process applications within seven working days, but it may take longer depending on the volumes it receives. It said to only contact it on 03457 740740 after 15 working days.

Barcoded stamps ‘pave the way for innovative services’

The move to barcoded stamps was first announced in February last year, with an initial deadline of 31 January 2023 for old stamps to be used, before it was extended to give people more time.

Royal Mail said the decision comes as part of its “extensive and ongoing modernisation drive, allowing the unique barcodes to facilitate operational efficiencies, enable the introduction of added security features and pave the way for innovative services for customers in the future”.

Matthew Parkes, managing director, stamps and collectibles, said: “As the 31 July deadline approaches, we are reminding customers to use up any remaining non-barcoded stamps they may have at home or in the office.

Customers can swap their non-barcoded stamps for the new barcoded version via our free and easy to use Swap Out scheme, so no customer should be out of pocket if they still have non-barcoded stamps they cannot use before 31 July.”

Related: King Charles III stamps revealed