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What to do with our old stamps.British stamps are about to get an upgrade as the Royal Mail starts to officially add barcodes to them. Stamps without a barcode will be obsolete after 31st July 2023; an extension to the previous deadline of 31st January, which gives people more time to use up old stamps, or swap them out for the new barcoded ones.
The addition of barcodes comes as part of the Royal Mail’s modernisation drive, which aims to make things smoother and add new security features. Everyone has some old stamps lying around in a drawer or filing cabinet – make sure to dig yours out and use them before the deadline, or save your pennies by swapping them for the snazzy new digital ones.
Country-definitive stamps will no longer be valid as postage after 31 July 31, so you should try and use these up now.
All regular first and second-class ‘everyday’ stamps will be going out of date, as well as first-class large letter and second-class large letter stamps. International tariff stamps and all ‘make-up-value stamps’ will also be going out of date.
The Royal Mail swap-out scheme allows you to swap your existing stamps for new ones, if you aren’t able to use them up before they become obsolete. All stamps that are going out of date, apart from country-definitive stamps, will be allowed for the swap.
Barcodes will also be added to Christmas stamps, but non-barcoded Christmas stamps will remain valid as postage after the deadline so are not eligible for the swap-out.
Special issue stamps, printed as a one-off to commemorate a person or event, will not be barcoded. These will remain valid as postage and won’t need to be swapped out.
To swap your stamps, customers will have to fill out a form available from the post office or to print from the Royal Mail website, and then send non-barcoded stamps back to the Royal Mail free of charge (for less than £200 worth of stamps).
The ‘swap-out’ applications will be processed in around seven working days by the Royal Mail, so you can expect your replacement stamps in just more than one week.
Any post sent with non-barcoded stamps after 31st July 31 will be treated as if there is insufficient postage on the item, so if you have lots of old stamps lying around, get them swapped.