Royal Mail urges people to use or exchange non-barcoded stamps

Do you have a book of stamps in your wallet, purse or drawer at home? You may have hoarded them to avoid future price hikes.

If so, you need to be aware that the official deadline for using stamps without barcodes – especially the regular first and second class “everyday” stamps featuring the late Queen’s profile – is drawing closer. Is.

After January 31, 2023, regular stamps without barcodes will technically no longer be valid for postage. That’s why Royal Mail is encouraging people to use them first, or swap them for ones with new barcodes.

The good news, however, is that after that date, for the first six months, mail posted with the “retired” stamp will be delivered as normal. “After this six-month grace period, an item with a non-barcoded stamp will be treated as having insufficient postage. Any item that has insufficient postage is subject to a surcharge,” says Royal Mail.

Unfortunately, you can’t just take your old post cards to the nearest post office and swap them for new ones. You have to fill in a form and send it back to Royal Mail.

However, there is positive news for those who bought a hoard of Christmas stamps for their cards this year and still have some left over — or maybe a lot left over from last year. Non-barcoded Christmas stamps will remain valid, so they can continue to be used after the deadline.

Royal Mail introduced barcodes on its stamps in February, in what the company described as part of a wider modernization drive. If you’ve bought anything recently you may have noticed they now have a barcode.

It says this new addition will “enable exciting new services by linking physical tickets to the digital world”. They can be scanned by customers using Royal Mail’s app, allowing people to do things like watch videos.

At the moment the barcoded stamps let people watch and share “exclusive” Shaun the Sheep videos, one of which has a Christmas theme (this includes the herd’s efforts to ensure that Bitzer, the farmer’s dog, gets a proper Christmas card this year). Got a share.

In the meantime, those with “old” seals should probably try digging them up and using them. Those affected by this are the standard “definitive” first and second class stamps featuring the late Queen’s profile on a plain colored background, and those showing any other value and which are often used for parcels. (1p, £1 and so on).

Royal Mail is not barcoding “special issue” stamps, which are printed as a one-off to commemorate a person, event or anniversary. These remain valid for postage.

Your stamp can be exchanged for a new stamp through the Stamp Swap Out Scheme. This involves filling out a form and sending it to them. You can print out the form, ask for one to be posted to you or collect one from the post office.

When filling in the form and adding up the value of your stamp, the amount you write in the box is the value at the time you are filling in the form – ie, the current Royal Mail value. It says that what you actually paid for the tickets is not relevant.

However, Royal Mail issued this plea: “Please do not try to exchange your stamps at your Post Office branch, as they will not be able to do this. You can do this directly with Royal Mail.”


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