New barcoded stamps are replacing the old-style stamps, which will soon be invalid.

The new stamps are said to offer added security features and allow people to watch and share videos by scanning the barcodes in the Royal Mail app.

But what about your non-barcoded stamps? Can you still use them? And when do they become invalid?

Here’s a guide on what you can do with your stash of old stamps:

When do the old stamps expire?

You may be thinking today is the last day to use up your old-style stamps.

But don’t panic – there’s still life, and postage, in them yet.

Although they will become obsolete to make way for new barcoded stamps which Royal Mail has been rolling out, the “deadline” to use them up has been given a six-month extension.

Initially, the deadline was Tuesday 31 January, 2023, but Royal Mail introduced a “six-month grace period”, so they can still be used until 31 July, 2023.

After this date, however, the stamps will no longer be valid.

Royal Mail said that after this, an item with a non-barcoded stamp would be treated “as if there is insufficient postage”.

Undated handout photo issued by the Royal mail of one of the new stamp which features a special barcode making it possible for people to watch videos, messages and other information. Customers can scan the barcodes in the Royal Mail app and will eventually be able to watch videos, information about services, or even birthday messages and other greetings from senders. Issue date: Tuesday February 1, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story INDUSTRY Stamps . Photo credit should read: Royal Mail/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
A new first-class stamp with barcode (Photo: PA)

It adds: “Any item that has insufficient postage is subject to a surcharge. Surcharge fees can be found on our website.”

While all standard stamps are replaced, Royal Mail is not barcoding special issue stamps – such as the ones to mark an event – meaning these will remain valid and cannot be swapped.

Special stamps with pictures on them and Christmas stamps without a barcode will continue to be valid and don’t need to be swapped out.

David Gold, the Royal Mail’s director of external affairs and policy, said the new stamps were “going to change the way we use mail”.

More on Royal Mail

Mr Gold added: “We’re taking the humble stamp, which, let’s remember, was created and started in Great Britain in 1840 and we’re taking it into a new era.

“We’re reinventing it for the modern age. We’re linking it to technology.”

How can you exchange stamps with Royal Mail?

Non-barcoded stamps up to the value of £200 can be exchanged for the new barcoded version through the “stamp swap out” scheme.

You must complete a form and send it off with the stamps you wish to swap, and Royal Mail will send you equivalent stamps with barcodes. You can find the form here.

Postage is free of charge, and you simply address the envelope “Freepost SWAP OUT”.

However, if you have more than £200 worth of stamps, you will need to use the “bulk stamp swap out” form, which you can find here.

Royal Mail recommends sending bulk batches via a secure service with suitable cover, to the following address:

Royal Mail

Swap Out

Tallents House

21 South Gyle Crescent


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.

You can also pick up a “swap out” form from your local post office branch along with a freepost envelope.

But be warned, the post office won’t be able to swap your stamps for barcoded ones.

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