How do you swap your stamps before they go out of date in July?

Stamps will need barcodes to be valid after July 31. Credit: Royal Mail

The Royal Mail is adding barcodes to regular stamps, leaving those without them obsolete after July 31.

The original deadline was January 31 but Royal Mail has introduced a grace period extending the final date into the summer.

People are being advised to either use up these stamps or swap them for the new barcoded ones before the new date.

Traditional paper stamps are being replaced, as part of the company’s ongoing modernisation drive.

Royal Mail says the new unique barcodes will help make operations smoother and enable the introduction of added security features.

The development will also let customers watch and share videos by scanning the barcoded stamps in the Royal Mail app.

Eligible stamps are the regular first and second class “everyday” stamps.

Which stamps are going out of date?

  • Non-value-indicated; 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

  • 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 January 31.

Barcodes are also being added to Christmas stamps. However non-barcoded Christmas stamps will remain valid as postage so Christmas stamps are not part of the swap out.

Stamps that will and won't be accepted for the Swap Out scheme. Credit: The Royal Mail

The postal service isn't barcoding special issue stamps - which are printed as a one off to commemorate a person or event - so these will remain valid as postage and don't need to be swapped out.

How can you swap your stamps? Can you just take them to the Post Office?

In short, no. Customers will have to pick up a 'Swap Out' form and then send non-barcoded stamps back to the Royal Mail.

People will either be able to print a form from the website, or they can contact customer experience on 03457 740740 who will be able to post out a form to people. They can also be picked up from local delivery offices and from post offices.

Anyone with less than £200 worth of stamps can print out a form that can be sent back free of charge. If people need to send back more than £200 worth of stamps they can do this via a bulk stamp swap, which can be found on the Royal Mail website.

The Royal Mail has advised people making use of the bulk option send their stamps using a secure service.

There is currently no end date as to when you need to swap out your non-barcoded stamps by.

What happens if you use a non-barcoded stamp after January 31?

For the first six months - until July 31 - they will be delivered as normal, with no surcharge.

After this six-month grace period, an item with a non-barcoded stamp will be treated as if there is insufficient postage - meaning a surcharge would apply.

How long will it take to receive your barcoded stamps once you have sent them in?

The Royal Mail has said its to process 'swap out' applications within seven working days. It should be noted this is an aim not a guarantee.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know