Thousands of stamps will soon be unusable, Royal Mail has warned customers.
The postal service is set to use a new barcode system to replace traditional stamps, which is said to be safer and will make sending letters easier.
When will stamps no longer be used?
From January 2023, the style of stamps - featuring a left-facing profile face of Queen Elizabeth II, will not be used.
After this date, only barcoded stamps with the Queen’s image on them, non-barcoded Christmas, or special collection stamps can be used.
If you attempt to send mail using the old stamps after the deadline, you may face an extra charge.
According to the Royal Mail website, if you send a letter without postage you will incur a £2 charge.
Nick Landon, Royal Mail chief commercial officer, said earlier this year: “Please check your kitchen drawers, wallets and purses for older non-barcoded stamps and make sure you use them up by 31 January 2023.”
Is there a way to swap out stamps before January?
Royal Mail’s “Swap Out” scheme is an exchange system for people who don’t think they will be able to use the stamps before the January deadline.
You can exchange your stamps for free by completing a standard form for stamps worth up to £200.
However, the stamps cannot be taken to the post office to be swapped.
The forms are available on the Royal Mail website and can be either printed or filled out online. You can also request the forms to be posted to you via the Royal Mail website or by calling customer services at 03457 740740.
The form can also be collected in person at your local delivery office, but bulk forms are only found using the above options.
How to send the stamps and forms back to Royal Mail
If the forms were collected or sent to you, they should come with a Freepost envelope. For those who have printed the forms themselves, you can send the sealed envelope to “Freepost Swap Out” for free.
Anyone sending bulk forms has been advised by Royal Mail to send them via special delivery and the additional cost will be refunded by Royal Mail in the form of barcoded stamps worth the same amount.
The exchange should take place within seven working days, if you have not received the new barcoded stamps within two weeks, you are advised to call customer service on the above number.