What to do with old first and second class stamps before important Royal Mail rule change

Scots will no longer be able to use current first and second class stamps under changes coming into force from Royal Mail next year.

The current ‘definitive’ first and second class stamps – which feature a profile of The Queen on them – will become void from January 31, 2023. Stamps given out at Christmas will also no longer be in use from this date.

Special commemorative stamps – such as the Doctor Who collection – will be unaffected by the change.

Instead, they will be replaced by similar stamps with a barcode attached next to them in a bid to bolster security.

Royal Mail said that every barcode will be unique and will enable the introduction of added security features.

Each barcoded stamp will have a digital twin that will be connected by the Royal Mail app.

Retailers are expected to receive stock of the new barcoded stamps over the coming months.

A spokesperson for Royal Mail said: “Definitive stamps are the stamps that will be very familiar to most people. They feature the profile of HM The Queen.

New barcoded stamps will be rolled out soon

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“The barcodes match the stamp color and sit alongside the main body of the stamp, separated by a simulated perforation line.

“The new barcode is an integral part of the stamp and must remain intact for the stamp to be valid.”

What should you do with you old stamps?

Scots will still be able to use their non-barcoded stamps until they become unusable from January 31, 2023.

People have been encouraged to use their remaining stamps before that deadline.

Money Saving Expert’s Martin Lewis has been one of the people advising customers to do this before the deadline day.

He 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 85p – 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 March 2023, so this is a call to arms (or tongues) to ensure you either use ’em or swap ’em.”

How the stamp swap scheme works

Scots will also be able to swap the current ones for the newer ones when they begin to be rolled out.

Royal Mail’s ‘Swap Out’ scheme will allow people to swap their stamps for the new barcoded ones from March 31 this year.

Customers keen to do this must fill out a form, which will be available from a number of places from that date – including customer service points, the Royal Mail website or through the Royal Mail’s customer service team.

More information on Royal Mail’s Swap Out scheme can be found here.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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