Why do stamps have barcodes? Reason regular Royal Mail stamps are barcoded now and when old ones will expire

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Royal Mail has urged customers to change their non barcoded stamps before the deadline

Royal Mail has advised customers to use up all stamps that do not have a barcode.

The postal service is set to introduce a new barcode system which will replace the traditional stamps.

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But when is the deadline to use stamps and why is the change coming into place?

Why do stamps have barcodes?

Barcoded stamps were first introduced in the UK by Royal Mail in February 2022 in a bid to make deliveries safer and more efficient for customers.

Royal Mail stated at the time that the move towards barcodes would open up possibilities for “new innovative services”. In the future it is expected that barcodes will allow people to send each other videos which can be scanned with the Royal Mail app.

When does the change come into place?

Royal Mail has confirmed that the deadline to use stamps that do not have a barcode will be Monday 31 July 2023.

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The deadline was originally set for Tuesday 31 January 2023. However, in a U-turn following discontent from customers, Royal Mail made the decision to extend the deadline and recognised that customers needed more time to use up non-barcoded stamps.

The deadline affects all regular stamps which feature the late monarch Queen Elizabeth II.

The new stamps will be used in exactly the same way as the traditional stamps but will display a barcode on them to assist the delivery services.

According to the Royal Mail website if you attempt to use the old stamps after the deadline, you may face an additional charge and if you send a letter without postage you will incur a £2 charge.

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What has Royal Mail said regarding the change?

The postal service launched a national awareness campaign in October reminding people to use up their non-barcoded stamps. In total Royal Mail has sent leaflets to 31 million homes and placed adverts in newspapers on the radio and through social media.

Nick Landon, Royal Mail chief commercial officer, released a statement earlier this year which said: “Please check your kitchen drawers, wallets and purses for older non-barcoded stamps and make sure you use them up by 31 July 2023.”

How to swap out stamps before the deadline

Royal Mail has introduced a swap out scheme for people who don’t think they will be able to use all their stamps before the end of July.

You can exchange these stamps for free through the Royal Mail website. The guidance explains that all you need to do is complete a Stamp Swap Out form, print it off and send it to them along with all of your non-barcoded stamps.

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If you have a printer, you are able to swap out up to £200 worth of non-barcoded stamps. This can be sent free of charge, along with the stamps and all you need to do is write on the envelope Freepost SWAP OUT.

If you have a printer and more than £200 worth of stamps it is advised that you fill out a Bulk Stamp Swap Out form.

If you don’t have access to a printer you can request a Swap Out form to be posted to you through the link on the website. Likewise they are also available from your customer service point at your local delivery officers.

Will this change affect all Stamps across the UK?

The upcoming deadline will affect all “everyday” stamps featuring Queen Elizabeth II. However, customers will still be able to use themed commemorative and non bar-coded christmas stamps after the final deadline.

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Is there a deadline for swapping non-barcoded stamps?

Royal Mail has confirmed that at present there is no end date for when older stamps can be swapped. So even if you miss the 31 January deadline you will still be able to exchange your stamps at a later date.

When will King Charles stamps be in circulation?

King Charles III succeeded his mother Queen Elizabeth II as monarch. (Getty Images)King Charles III succeeded his mother Queen Elizabeth II as monarch. (Getty Images)
King Charles III succeeded his mother Queen Elizabeth II as monarch. (Getty Images) | Getty Images

British stamps will soon feature a portrait of the new monarch King Charles III, but at this moment in time we don’t know the exact date that the stamps will be revealed or what the portrait will look like.

The Royal Mail website states that further details on the launch will be made at an appropriate time after consultation with the Royal Household.

Four stamps that feature portraits of the Queen through the years will be released in her memory. These are the first to be approved by King Charles and they will enter general sale from Thursday 10 November.

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