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How do you swap your stamps before they go out of date?

The Royal Mail has extended the deadline to use old stamps before they expire

Chiara Wilkinson
Written by
Chiara Wilkinson

You might have noticed that the Royal Mail has started to add barcodes to the humble British stamp – which means that stamps without a barcode will be obsolete after July 31 2023 and you’ll need to swap them out before then. 

This is an extension to the previous deadline of January 31, giving people more time to use up their old stamps or swap them out for the shiny new barcoded ones. The addition of barcodes is part of a major modernisation drive in the Royal Mail, aiming to make operations smoother and to add new security features.

Everyone has some old stamps lying around in a drawer or filing cabinet – make sure you dig yours out and use them up before the deadline, or save your pennies by swapping them for the snazzy new digital ones. 

When do old stamps expire?

Country-definitive stamps will no longer be valid as postage after July 31 2023, so it’s worth using these up now. It is an extension by six months from the previous cut-off date: January 31 2023. 

Which stamps are going out of date?

All regular first and second-class ‘everyday’ stamps will be going out of date, as well as first-class large letter and second-class large letter stamps. International tariff stamps and all ‘make-up-value stamps’ will also be going out of date. 

What is the Royal Mail swap out scheme?

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.

What stamps are allowed for the swap?

All of the stamps going out of date, apart from country-definitive stamps, will be allowed for the swap.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.

How can you swap your stamps?

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). 

What happens if you use a non-barcoded stamp after July 31 2023?

Any post sent with non-barcoded stamps after July 31 2023 will be treated as if there is insufficient postage on the item, so it’s definitely worth swapping them in if you have lots lying around. 

How long will it take to receive your new stamps?

The ‘swap-out’ applications will be processed in around seven working days by the Royal Mail, so you can expect to receive your shiny new stamps in just more than one week.

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