Reinventing stamps for the next generations

Royal Mail stamps are changing, so what should you do with your old stamps?

Reinventing stamps for the next generations

Royal Mail stamps are changing, so what should you do with your old stamps?

We’re adding barcodes to all our regular ‘everyday’ stamps. These are the stamps (pictured below) that will be very familiar to you. They feature the profile of Her Majesty the Queen on a plain coloured background. The barcodes will enable exciting new services by connecting physical stamps to the digital world through the Royal Mail app which you can download here.

Image of Royal Mail's new barcoded stamps

 
We’re giving you plenty of notice about this change and any non-barcoded stamps you have will still be valid until 31 January 2023. If you won’t be able to use all of your stamps by that date you can swap them out for new barcoded ones.

Note: Special Stamps with pictures on and Christmas Stamps without a barcode will continue to be valid and don't need to be swapped out.

Using them up

You can carry on using any non-barcoded stamps you have until 31 January 2023. For most people that will mean they have time to use up any of the old stamps they have before that date and you don’t need to swap anything out. 

If you have too many stamps to use them up before this date you can exchange them for new barcoded ones through Royal Mail’s ‘Swap Out’ scheme.

Swapping them out

Your non-barcoded stamps can be exchanged for the new barcoded version through the Stamp Swap Out scheme. The Scheme opened on 31 March 2022. To swap out your stamps, simply complete one of our Stamp Swap Out forms and send it back to us along with your non-barcoded stamps. The step by step process for doing this is explained below.

 
How to get a ‘Stamp Swap Out’ form

  • If you have a printer, you can swap out up to £200 worth of non-barcoded stamps by printing out and completing this Stamp Swap Out PDFpdf, 200.52 KB. You can send this back to us free of charge, along with your stamps, by writing on the envelope Freepost SWAP OUT. No other address details or postcode are needed.
     
  • If you have a printer, and more than £200 worth of stamps to swap out then use the Bulk Stamp Swap Out formpdf, 153.85 KB. We recommend sending this and your non-barcoded stamps back to us via a secure service with suitable cover. The address to send to is:
     
    Royal Mail
    Swap Out
    Tallents House
    21 South Gyle Crescent
    EDINBURGH
    EH12 9PB
     
  • If you don’t have access to a printer you can request a Stamp Swap Out form to be posted to you by completing this form online. The instructions for sending back to us will depend on the form you request.
    'Stamp Swap Out' forms are also available from the Customer Service Point at your local Delivery Offices (but please note they will only have the forms for the up to £200 option). Or you can call our Customer Experience Team on 03457 740740.

Examples of stamps you can Swap Out

Examples of stamps accepted for the Swap Out Scheme

 

Examples of stamps you don't need to Swap Out

Examples of stamps not accepted for the Swap Out Scheme

 
More information is available in our Q&A section below.

Watch our exclusive Shaun the Sheep videos

Our new barcoded stamps also enable you to watch and share exclusive Shaun the Sheep* videos via the barcode itself, using the Royal Mail App.

You or the recipient can watch a video just by scanning the stamp barcode.

Click here to find out more.
 

Shaun the Sheep logo

 
*© Aardman Animations Limited 2022. All rights reserved.

 
The move is part of the Company’s extensive and ongoing modernisation drive and will allow the unique barcodes to facilitate operational efficiencies, enable the introduction of added security features and pave the way for innovative services for customers.

 
Most stamps are being barcoded — but not all stamps.

All Definitive stamps are being barcoded - including Christmas stamps. Definitive stamps are the regular ‘everyday’ stamps featuring the profile of HM The Queen created by the sculptor Arnold Machin.

We aren't barcoding special issue stamps - which are printed as a one off to commemorate a person / event — these remain valid as postage so don't need to be swapped out.

Also, although Christmas Stamps are being barcoded, previous years of non-barcoded Christmas Stamps will remain valid as postage after 31 January 2023 — so there is no requirement to swap them out.

 
The 'Swap Out' scheme opened on 31 March 2022. 'Swap Out' forms are available from the following places: print one off our website; complete a request form on the website; contact Royal Mail Customer Services who will arrange for one to be sent to you; pick one up from any Delivery Office Customer Service Point.

Please note swap out forms are not available at Post Offices 

 
No — you can't swap your non-barcoded stamps out at a Post Office. You will need to pick up a 'Swap Out' form and send in your non-barcoded stamps to Royal Mail (free post address on the form). Print one off our web site; contact Customer Experience and we'll post one out to you; pick one up from your local Delivery Offices' Customer Service Point.

Please note swap out forms are not available at Post Offices.

 
Mail posted with non-barcoded Definitive stamps after 31 January 2023, will be treated in the same way as if there is insufficient postage on an item. After 31 January 2023, you should apply the correct value of barcoded stamps required to send your item. Any item that has insufficient postage is subject to a surcharge. Surcharge fees can be found on our website.

 
Following our announcement on 1 Feb 2022, and subsequent discussions with key stakeholders, including feedback from our customers, we have removed Christmas stamps from our Swap Out scheme. These stamps are mostly kept by customers to send their Christmas cards and we anticipate that the vast majority will have been used by the end of this year. We are still adding a barcode to Christmas stamps, but non-barcoded Christmas stamps will remain valid so can continue to be used after 31 January 2023 and therefore there is no requirement to swap them out.

 
Non-barcoded stamps can be used as postage up until 31 January 2023. If you are able to use them within this time — that's great. If you aren't going to be able to use them up — that's fine too — you can send them in to us and we'll swap them out for barcoded stamps. Our 'Swap Out' scheme will open on 31 March 2022 and you can pick up a 'Swap Out' form from your local Delivery Office's Customer Service Point; print one off our website; or contact Customer Experience and we'll post one out to you.

Note: you don’t need to swap out non-barcoded Christmas stamps – we are still adding a barcode to Christmas stamps, but non-barcoded Christmas stamps will remain valid so can continue to be used after 31 January 2023 and therefore there is no requirement to swap them out.

 
The following stamps are having barcodes added to them:

Machin definitive stamps, this covers:

  • NVIs 1st Class, 2nd Class. 1st Class Large Letter; 2nd Class Large Letter
  • These make up value stamps: 1p; 2p; 5p; 10p; 20p; 50p; £1; £2; £3; £5
  • International Tariff stamps

Country definitive stamps: England; Northern Ireland; Scotland & Wales

Non-barcoded version of the above Machin & Country definitive stamps will not be valid as postage after 31 January 2023

Christmas Stamps: We are also adding barcodes to Christmas stamps.  Note: non-barcoded Christmas stamps will remain valid as postage after 31 January 2023 so Christmas stamps are not part of swap out.

The following stamps are eligible for swap out – as they will no longer be valid as postage after 31 January 2023.

All standard decimal Machin definitive stamps since 1971, this covers:

  • NVIs 1st Class, 2nd Class. 1st Class Large Letter; 2nd Class Large Letter
  • all make up value stamps (e.g. 1p, 2p, 10p, £1, etc.) 
  • International Tariff stamps

All Country definitive stamps this includes Regional / Country Machins (1971- 1999) and the replacement Country Emblems (1999 to present) 

Christmas Stamps: Although we are adding barcodes to Christmas stamps, non-barcoded Christmas stamps will remain valid as postage after 31 January 2023 so Christmas stamps should not be sent in for swap out.

See examples of stamps that can be swapped outpdf, 78.67 KB.

 
Special Issue stamps that are produced as one offs to commemorate an event as we are not adding barcodes to these types of stamps so non-barcoded versions remain valid for postage after 31 January 2023.

Christmas Stamps: although we are adding barcodes to Christmas Stamps — non-barcoded Christmas Stamps will remain valid as postage after 31 January 2023 — so there is no need to swap them out.

Any stamps which are pre-decimalisation are not eligible for swap out — as they don't have a postage value.

 
Non-barcoded stamps are still valid as postage until 31 January 2023 — and you can continue to use these stamp between now and then to avoid the need for you to swap them out. If you do need to swap your stamps our aim is to process your swap out application within 7 working days. It should be noted this is an aim not a guarantee - as there may be times when due to higher volumes of requests it takes us longer to respond.

 
It’s fine to keep using non-barcoded stamps as postage up until 31 January 2023. You can swap out your stamps any time from 31 March 2022 onwards — there is currently no end date as to when you need to swap out your non-barcoded stamps by.

 
No you won’t lose out. Non-barcoded NVI stamps sent in for swap out will be swapped out with the new barcoded equivalent. It doesn’t matter what you paid for the stamp at the time.

E.g. if you send in a non-barcoded 1st Class NVI stamp; you will get back a barcoded 1st Class NVI stamp; if you send in a non-barcoded 2nd Class Large Letter stamp you will get back a barcoded 2nd Class Large Letter NVI stamp.

 
The value you put in is the value of the NVI stamp at the time you are filling in the form i.e. current Royal Mail prices (e.g. 1st Class NVI on 4 April 2022 costs 95p – so you would use 95p). What you actually paid for the stamp when you bought it is not relevant.  Non-barcoded NVI stamps sent in for swap out will be swapped out with the barcoded equivalent.  e.g. send in a non-barcoded 1st Class NVI stamp – you would count this; you will get back a barcoded 1st Class NVI stamp; if you send in a non-barcoded 2nd Class Large Letter stamp you will get back a barcoded 2nd Class Large Letter NVI stamp.

Stamp Swap Out Scheme - Terms and Conditionspdf, 264.37 KB - last updated 14 July 2022