This is an update to our previous blog article which was published on 7th April 2022. It contains important new information.
If you have a supply of postage stamps stored away, then after 31st July 2023 you'll no longer be able to use them. This is because Royal Mail is moving to a new barcode system. After this date, most postage stamps will not be valid and you will have to pay a surcharge.
'Special' commemorative stamps, such as the Doctor Who collection, and also some Christmas stamps, will be the only exception, as these are not being phased out and can continue to be used after 31st July 2023.
Royal Mail will let you 'swap out' these stamps for free
You will be able to exchange current stamps for barcoded ones for free under a new 'Swap Out' scheme, which opened on 31st March 2022.
To do this, you just need to fill in a 'Swap Out' form on its website or get one from a local delivery office (not a standard Post Office). You then have to post back the stamps back to a Freepost address. There are two forms to choose from. One form is for stamps with a total value up to £200, and the other form is for stamps with a total value over £200
Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com said: "For years, every time stamps go up in price I've suggested people stock up and bulk-buy in advance, as provided the stamp doesn't have a price on it and instead just says the postage class, it's still valid after the hike. This has been an effective tactic, as a first-class letter stamp is now 95p - a decade ago it was just 60p.”
"So this change will come as a shock to the many stamp-hoarders out there. It's the first time I can remember you've not been able to just lick it and stick it. And we don't yet know if you'll still be able to swap the stamps after July 2023, so this is a call to arms (or tongues) to ensure you either use 'em or swap 'em."
Some people are hoarding over £1,000 worth of stamps
This shake-up is particularly key for people who have stockpiled stamps ahead of planned price rises in order to cut costs. Stamp prices typically rise each April with first-class stamps currently costing 95p and second class stamps costing 68p.
One person, who did not want to be named, said they had thousands of stamps at home after routinely buying them in lots of about £100 to £150, to avoid future price increases. They say they have more than £1,000 worth in total and were also particularly worried about how this change would affect older generations.
They said: "Older people, like my late dad, are used to getting stamps by the booklet and keeping them in drawers, and will just not realise they can't be used from July 2023."
Barcoded stamps are designed to be more secure
The addition of a barcode will mean that each new stamp is unique, which Royal Mail says will provide an "additional security feature". Each barcode will have a "digital twin" and the two will be connected using the Royal Mail app, although the barcodes will not allow users to track their mail.
Non-barcoded stamps have already begun to be phased out. Post Offices and shops that sell stamps will receive stocks of barcoded ones over the next few months. Each retailer will continue to sell its existing stamps but when it orders more, it will get barcoded ones.
Some of the information in this article is from the Money Saving Expert website. We have revised the information so that it is up-to-date.
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