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New barcode stamps: what small businesses need to know

2-minute read

Posting letters in British post box
Catriona Smith

Catriona Smith

13 January 2023

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Royal Mail has introduced new stamps with barcodes and old stamps won’t be valid after 31 July 2023.

The initial deadline was 31 January, but Royal Mail introduced a six-month grace period to give people time to prepare for the change.

If you’re a small business that regularly uses the postal service, make sure you use or swap your old stamps before the deadline.

What’s changing?

Stamps without a barcode will no longer be valid after 31 July 2023.

This doesn’t include non-barcoded Christmas stamps and Special stamps (such as those with pictures used to commemorate anniversaries and events). These will remain valid and don’t need to be swapped out.

What do I need to do?

If you don’t think you’ll be able to use all your old stamps in time, you can swap out your old stamps so you don’t lose money on wasted postage.

It’s not possible to do this in a Post Office branch – you have to post your old stamps back to Royal Mail and they’ll send you the new barcoded stamps.

If you have less than £200 worth of old stamps:

  1. Fill in a Stamp swap out form
  2. Add the value of your stamps (using current Royal Mail prices)
  3. Post your old stamps back to Royal Mail using this address: Freepost SWAP OUT
  4. Wait to receive your new barcoded stamps (usually within seven days)

If you have a high quantity of old stamps to exchange:

  1. Fill in a Bulk stamp swap out form (for more than £200 worth of stamps)
  2. Add the value of your stamps (using current Royal Mail prices)
  3. Send using secure postage to: Royal Mail, Swap Out, Tallents House, 21 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9PB

You can print these forms at home, or pick up a form and a freepost envelope from your local Post Office branch.

Royal Mail has published more information about what you need to do.

There’s no deadline for swapping your old stamps – you just won’t be able to use them after the deadline.

A six-month grace period

The good news is that post using the old stamps will still be delivered as normal for the first six months.

This technically gives businesses until 31 July 2023 to use up any old stamps without facing any surcharges.

After the six-month grace period, any post using old stamps will be treated as ‘insufficient postage’ and extra charges will be applied.

What do the new barcode stamps do?

Barcode stamps were introduced in February 2022 and have new digital capabilities.

Using the Royal Mail app, people can scan the barcode with their phone and watch or add a video message connected to the stamp.

At the moment you can just add an animation of Shaun the Sheep with a happy birthday message, but Royal Mail plans to offer more in the future.

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Photograph: Elena Moiseeva/
Catriona Smith

Written by

Catriona Smith

Catriona Smith is a content and marketing professional with 12 years’ experience across the financial services, higher education, and insurance sectors. She’s also a trained NCTJ Gold Standard journalist. As a Senior Copywriter at Simply Business, Catriona has in-depth knowledge of small business concerns and specialises in tax, marketing, and business operations. Catriona lives in the seaside city of Brighton where she’s also a freelance yoga teacher.

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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