Royal Mail: 100 days left to use stamps without barcode

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Royal Mai said the stamp swap scheme was not connected to the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Photo: Royal Mail
Royal Mai said the stamp swap scheme was not connected to the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Photo: Royal Mail

Royal Mail (IDS.L) has told UK households to use all non-barcoded stamps in the next 100 days before they cease to be valid for postage by 31 January.

Post Office branches will no longer accept stamps without a barcode from the end of January 2023. The deadline affects "everyday" stamps featuring the late Queen Elizabeth II's profile.

But, the change will not apply to themed, commemorative, and Christmas stamps which are non-barcoded, which customers can still use after the cut-off date.

This was in response to customer feedback as some customers said they save Christmas stamps to use when sending their Christmas cards, and Royal Mail expects households to use these up this holiday period.

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Barcoded stamps were introduced in February to streamline deliveries and improve security, which the company described as "extensive and ongoing modernisation drive" at the time.

The codes can be scanned by customers using Royal Mail’s app, and over time the aim is for this to make it possible for people to watch videos or messages from other senders or to gain information about services.

What happens if you can't use the stamps by the deadline?

People who are unable to use the traditional stamps in time will be allowed to exchange them for free.

Meanwhile, those wishing to swap up to £200 worth of stamps can print out a form and send it to the postal service free of charge, along with their stamps, through the "Freepost, Swap Out" address.

However, non-barcoded "special" stamps are not eligible to be swapped out.

Any post sent after 31 January using an older stamp will be treated as having no postage at all and therefore be liable to a surcharge of £2.50 for a letter and £3 for a small parcel.

However, charities have called the changes disappointing, especially for households that rely on the post to pay bills and stay in touch with their loved ones.

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"It’s really important the postal service stays affordable because otherwise some older people will be left without a basic form of communication on which they have happily relied throughout their lives," Caroline Abrahams, director of charity Age UK, said.

Will there be stamps featuring the King?

Royal Mail said its stamp swap scheme was not connected with the death of the Queen and the change of monarch.

It said further details on the launch of stamps featuring King Charles III will be made at the appropriate time after consultation with the Royal Household.

But barcoded stamps bearing the image of the King, will be released gradually, along with new coins and banknotes.

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