Sunday 13 November 2022

Ever more thoughts on Royal Mail Invalidation of non-barcoded definitive stamps: usage deadline extended by six months.

A number of people have written to tell me of the news appearing in the Mail on Sunday today, but I wanted to get an official statement, untainted by rhetoric or back-patting by journalists one of whom, at least, I have spoken to on this subject.

Official statement from Royal Mail's Matthew Parkes, Managing Director Stamps and Collectibles :


Royal Mail is transitioning to digital, barcoded stamps in order to provide new and innovative future services for our customers. In order to give our customers even more time to use up any remaining non-barcoded stamps, we have decided to introduce a six month grace period starting from the original deadline of January 31 2023 where non-barcoded definitive stamps will still be delivered as normal. 


To make things even easier for our customers, we have also agreed with Post Office to include swap out forms alongside freepost envelopes in Post Office branches. This means that customers will be able to fill out a form, insert it into a freepost envelope with any remaining non-barcoded stamps and hand it over for posting in a Post Office branch.




Royal Mail first announced the transition to barcoded stamps in February 2022. Under the original scheme, Royal Mail had planned to stop accepting letters bearing non-barcoded stamps into its network from January 31.

Customers will not be out of pocket as there is no end date as to when customers should swap their non-barcoded stamps by. Customers will still be able to access the “Swap out” option after 31 January 2023. The process of swapping out is free and we are sending a leaflet and a swap out form to all 31 million UK addresses to make this even easier.


It seems that Royal Mail are following the governments of the UK in performing U-turns.  I suspect that the Post Office didn't want to get involved, at least not without being paid, although I know of at least one Crown office which has produced some forms because the attached Royal Mail Enquiry Office is only open for two hours early in the morning, on most days of the week and they keep getting enquiries!

And this leaflet, which can be used instead of one of the proper forms, has been delivered to many households already.

I suppose they will produce another one now.  Of course the Swap-Out scheme is open ended at present, and mixing the two dates into one story has been a feature of tabloid journalism for several months now.

Don't forget that instead of using the basic Freepost address you should use this address which will avoid any possibility of Post Office branches refusing to provide a certificate of posting.

I read somewhere, but not in the latest Mail article, that the number of people handling the stamps sent in had been trebled although there is no confirmation that this has happened.


  1. So am I right in thinking that all we've had so far is "Royal Mail is transitioning to digital, barcoded stamps in order to provide new and innovative future services for our customers"?
    And "innovative services" so far has only been some Shaun the Sheep gimmick ?
    Nothing about preventing forgeries, or attempting to, and nothing about stopping the reuse of uncancelled stamps, or attempting to ?
    That 'good quality' barcoded stamps would very soon be forged and sold in not insignificant numbers was no surprise after that happened six weeks after earlier security methods were introduced.
    I might have mentioned before that if the public don't know that reused uncancelled stamps will be detected, or might be, with the recipient being surcharged then they will keep reusing uncancelled stamps.
    And forged barcoded stamps might be flooding into Britain just as fast as forged unbarcoded stamps were before them.
    I'm just wondering if all the effort and cost that Royal Mail has been put to with this has been wasted.
    Or am I missing something ?

  2. Barcode stamps are just more 'Emperors New Clothes' sold to Royal Mail at great expense as a solution. RM management maybe thick enough to believe such tales but then they also believe a collectables division has a future ... fantasy.

  3. Anonymous,
    I hadn't thought of that but can well believe that you are right.
    And I've now realised another element of the "great expense". Royal Mail have swapped many old Machins - over £300 worth on my case - that would probably never have been used for barcoded Machins that certainly will be used because we don't of course want to keep many dozens of them - so that's over £300 I won't be spending with Royal Mail over the next few years on stamps to use postally.

  4. I can't see why it is in RM's interest to either extend the "use up" period or the "swap-out" period. I would have thought if their attempt to suppress forgery was EVER going to work then both periods would need to be as short as possible.

    The only way it seems to me to totally clamp down on forgery now is to revert to paying for postage at the time of posting over the counter in a post office, of which there are plenty. Oh, but wait on ...

    1. Well I, for one, am relieved about the extension of the time to use all the old definitive stamps up. Perhaps because everyone is seeking them out from drawers old suits &c and using them up like billy-o. I have had several parcels for abroad returned to me lately on the wrong assumption that welsh definitives are invalid. Although I have gone through the bother of complaining about a couple of them, Royal Mail will have got an extra few quid from me now, but I have agreed with relatives abroad not to post Xmas gifts to each other again so they will lose a lot more money from me in the end. I shall use the old definitives up on letters instead; as I have only had one of those returned as 'reused stamps;' for the ILSM is more fair, and reäds the phosphor

  5. I sent 301 Machins (less than £200) to the Freepost address two weeks ago, I didn't have the postcode then so to be safe I photographed every page. Nothing received back so I called the Swapout Scheme on 03452 660804 but gave up after 66 minutes, I wonder if anyone has managed to get an answer on this 'helpline' other than their apology in advance for my courtesy to the staff who are trying their very best to help'.

    1. You need to wait longer, I think. It is clear that the whole exercise is taking longer as more forms & stamps are sent in.

  6. What is happening about unbarcoded regional stamps?

    John Embrey