Now you can’t even swap your stamps at the Post Office


Need new stamps with barcodes? Now you can’t even swap them at the Post Office as Royal Mail says they aren’t set up for security checks

Royal Mail has warned customers that they cannot swap their old-style stamps at the Post Office because of security reasons.

From January 31, 2023, stamps without a barcode will no longer be valid and can be replaced only if posted to the Royal Mail.

We reported last week that customers must either use their old stamps before the deadline or swap them using Royal Mail’s Stamp Swap Out scheme.

Stamped out: From January 31, 2023, stamps without a barcode will no longer be valid and can be replaced only if posted to the Royal Mail

One reader says they were surprised to find their local Post Office couldn’t swap their stamps.

Despite delivering leaflets to every household in Britain earlier this year to highlight the change, the news may still come as a surprise to many.

Tory MP Kevin Hollinrake told the Mail on Sunday at the weekend he was unaware of the new rules.

Royal Mail started rolling out new barcoded stamps this year which allow customers to track letters and parcels through its app.

It is an added security feature that the Royal Mail says makes them harder to counterfeit.

But people should not attempt to swap their old stamps at Post Office counters because staff are not equipped to verify them.

Royal Mail says it undertakes a series of stringent security checks to ensure that stamps are legitimate and unused. But it says Post Office branches are not set up to perform this.

Stamps are considered a secure print item in a similar way to bank notes, meaning it is a crime knowingly to reuse or sell used or fake stamps. The security features checked for include die cuts, the words ‘Royal Mail’ printed in a special ink on the surface and wide oval perforations close to the base.

A spokesman for the firm says: ‘We also have bands of phosphor printed on the stamp and these are difficult to counterfeit. Post Offices don’t have the necessary machines to read the phosphor.’

In the run up to the deadline to use old stamps, the Post Office says it is anticipating customers arriving in branches thinking they can simply swap their old stamps for new ones over the counter. But instead, these must be posted to Royal Mail, which will send back replacements in return.

Royal Mail says it aims to process swap out applications within seven working days. A spokesman says: ‘It should be noted this is an aim, not a guarantee.’

It recommends customers post their stamps via special delivery to avoid any issues and says it will refund the cost to the equivalent value in barcoded stamps.

To exchange your stamps, fill out the form at royalmail.com/sending/barcoded-stamps and send it, along with your stamps, to Royal Mail. Make sure you write Freepost Swap Out on the envelope.

Christmas and other commemorative stamps will still be valid after January 31.

l.purkess@dailymail.co.uk

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