Saturday 30 September 2023

More King Charles III PPIs - in a variety of shades!

In March I wrote about postal products which would, eventually, need to be changed following the accession to the throne of King Charles III and then in August the first so-called 'digital-stamp' printed direct onto mailings by large companies, in their Postage Paid Impressions.

My thanks to the people who have sent further examples recently.

These examples are from Bluecrest (Contract 10017), Opus Energy (10002), Vision Express (10001) and Serious Readers (10017).  The last of these is very grey, and is almost the colour of the 2nd Large or £2.20 stamps.

UPDATE 16 January: Bluecrest have changed their mailer, they are now using C9 10079.  (No copy to show, it's damaged!)

King Charles III PPI (digital stamp) from Bluecrest 2023.

King Charles III PPI (digital stamp) from Opus Energy 2023.

King Charles III PPI (digital stamp) from Vision Express and Serious Readers 2023.
King Charles III PPI (digital stamp) from Pets at Home 2023.

It is obvious that the Datamatrix Barcode on these impressions is totally meaningless as they are all exactly the same.  In any event, these mailing would not go through that part of the mail centre where barcodes are scaanned and stamps cancelled.

UPDATE 30 October:

Today's post brought a letter from the Norfolk Wildlife Trust printed in a yellowish-green colour, which is reflected in the colour of the stamp.

King Charles III PPI (digital stamp) from Norfolk Wildlife Trust October 2023, C9 license 10017.

UPDATE 3 February 2024: Another user of The Delivery Group (C9 10017) is Oakhouse Foods, this received today:

King Charles III PPI (digital stamp) from Oakhouse Foods January 2024, C9 license 10017.


UPDATE 12 October:

Thanks to JF for sending this first example of the 2nd class Large, this one from Museum Selection of Paignton.  The colour is a good match to the actual stamp, and the barcode is the same as those shown above.

Example of the 2nd class Large King Charles 'digital stamp' used as a Printed Paid Impression.

UPDATE 23 April

My thanks to Jon on Stampboards for showing this amazingly poor example of the 2nd class King Charles PPI - it should, of course, be green.

Mailshot from Leaders of Great Britain (LCGB) of London, events organisers, with very poorly printed 2nd class King Charles III imprinted stamp.

Friday 22 September 2023

Gibbons outsourcing production and distribution of albums and accessories to Dauwalders.

Trade News from Stanley Gibbons.

We have been looking at ways to offer a better and improved range of stamp albums and accessories products for our customers and as a result we have decided to license the production and distribution of Stanley Gibbons stamps albums and accessories to Dauwalders. 

We are extremely excited to introduce Dauwalders as our new albums and accessories licensing partner. Dauwalders are specialists in albums and accessories and have been trading for over 60 years. They are based in Salisbury, Wiltshire, and are as committed and passionate about the hobby as we are.

As well as supplying Lighthouse products they will be taking on Davo as well as providing the Stanley Gibbons range of albums and accessories. They will be taking over all aspects of the Stanley Gibbons albums and accessories side of the business, from production to fulfilment for both collectors and trade partners; this will also include the full range of Davo products.  

Stanley Gibbons will continue to provide the designs of the album pages to Dauwalders to ensure consistency throughout the range and with the catalogues. We will work closely with Dauwalders on improvements and new introductions to the product lines. 
Dauwalders will officially take over all order fulfilment from October 16th. 


Gibbons are retaining the production and distribution of catalogues.

If you normally buy from your favourite dealer, this should make no difference to you.

If you normally buy direct from Gibbons you will probably be contacted direct by them.  I don't know, from this, whether they will eliminate Albums and Accessories from their website shop, or provide a link to Dauwalders, or redirect purchasers to Dauwalders.

Of course Dauwalders also sell stamps so it would make sense for stamps and accessories to be the subject of one purchase transaction.

Wednesday 20 September 2023

Is anybody using the barcoded country definitives?

It's a rhetorical question as I know they are being used, but have seen few examples of use and even fewer non-philatelic.

So I've started a new post in the Postal History blog to record genuine social/commercial use of any of the barcoded country definitive stamps.

If you have any, send them to the usual email address with an explanation, and I'll add them here.

Tuesday 19 September 2023

September 2023 slogan postmarks and other interesting postal markings.

Slogans used in September will be shown here; please check for latest updates before spending your time scanning, but if you have something new or another format, then please do send it in for publication.

The month continued the August use of the default British Heart Foundation support slogan, and it was only on 18th that KD sent the first new slogan for the month.

Still hoping that people will send cards instead of text messages, and supporting the greetings card industry, the latest slogan repeats the Thinking of You Week from previous years.

Send A Card
Deliver A Smile for
Thinking of You Week

18th-24th September 2023

KD sent one from Warrington dated 15-09-2023 and the other format from Bristol dated 18/09/20223.

Thinking of You Week slogan used at Bristol Mail Centre 18/09/2023

Thinking of You Week slogan used at Warrington Mail Centre 15-09-2023

UPDATE 30 SEPTEMBER 2023. We received a letter this week with the default British Heart Foundation slogan, used 29/09/23 at Manchester Mail Centre.

British Heart Foundation default slogan Manchester 29/09/2023

And here is an example of the Thinking of You Week slogan from Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA.

USPS Thinking of You Week slogan used at Grand Rapids Michigan USA 25 SEP 2023
on 2022 Global Forever stamp.

Other postmarks, postal markings etc,

I will probably produce a separate page of Yellow Label surcharge marks eventually, but for the present I will put in these monthly posts any which I see.

This is the standard wording for a counterfeit stamp surcharge label for £2.50.  It was addressed to the Southampton area.

Counterfeit Stamp - Invalid Stamp 1159 Fee to Pay stamp with £2.50 overprinted.

When a definitive stamp with no barcode is used - or when the Revenue Protection department thinks that the stamps used are no longer valid - this label is used.  In this case it is the Olympic definitives are deemed invalid.

Stamp No Longer Valid for Postage Fee to Pay stamp £1.10 with no identification number

For many years 'tick-box' labels have been in use and P6715 is the current(?) one, which now has provision for a wide selection of mis-use.

As well as he 'Size and.or weight' deficiency, this includes the following:

- re-used stamp
- Unofficial Redirection
- Unpaid PPI
- Counterfeit Stamp
- Defaced/Barcode Removed
- BR Cancelled.

Multiple-reason 'tick-box' Fee To Pay label P6715 for £2.50

Unofficial Redirection is something that has worried some in the Union for sometime; casual redirection rather than payment for the full redirection service means that the letter is being handled twice for no additional payment.  

Unpaid PPI (Postage Paid Impression) is an odd one, because if the mail had been posted without a contract posting docket being provided by the license-holder, then that should have been picked up at the office of posting and the license-holder's account charged.  The only explanation for this being used, that I can think of, is if a license-holder provided a PPId envelope for a reply, when of course the docket could not be provided at the time of sending.  Either way, the license-holder would be charged - or is there another explanaiton.

The meaning of BR Cancelled has been the subject of some speculation with possible explanations being: Business Reply account has been cancelled, or "Barcode Recorded" - which would effectively cancel the stamp.

Any other thoughts, or knowledge from insiders, are welcome!

If you have any other interesting postal markings, please send them to one of the email addresses in the top right of this blog.  Thank you.

Remember, any other slogans appearing in September will be added to this post, so check here before you spend time scanning and emailing.  I'll add new ones as quickly as possible.


Monday 18 September 2023

Post Office Self-Service Kiosks will remain in use for the forseeable future - official.


I reported earlier that Royal Mail would be removing all their Post and Go machines at the end of this year - that is the ones in the Postal Museum, various Armed Forces Museums around the country, and in a few other tourist attractions.

When this was originally reported there was a suggestion that Royal Mail had not given much thought to the position of the Post Office Branch Self-Service Kiosks (SSKs), or those in Guernsey, Jersey and Gibraltar.  

I asked Royal Mail for a statement on the SSKs, and asked the other organisations including Post Office Ltd what their plans are.

The islands were first to reply, both saying that they had no plans to close down operations and that they would continue to use them in all locations.

Guernsey Stamps @guernseystamps

Good morning. We have no plans to withdraw our Post & Go machines. We'll be releasing our 2024 stamp schedule in the near future with full details of what's coming up next year.

Jersey Stamps  @JerseyStamps

We also have no plans to withdraw the machines, keep an eye out next year for new issues!

I've still had no response from Gibraltar, but last week received responses from both Royal Mail and Post Office Ltd on their SSKs.

Post Office

Post Office  @PostOffice

Hi, sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Our SSK’s remain unchanged at the present time and there are no plans immediately to change them.

Royal Mail

"I understand SSKs remain well stocked and so will continue to remain operational. The next review will be 2024 when a reprint is expected. This will really be a question for Post Office Ltd.  

If they continue with them, and need postage stock for them, then we will supply that." 


My thanks to RW for these photographs of the Paignton Self-Service Kiosks.

Self-Service Kiosks at Paignton Post Office

Inside of Self-Service Kiosk at Paignton Post Office.
Click on these images to enlarge them.

So it will be well into next year before the King Charles III Post and Go stamps appear for self-service kiosks.

If/When they do we should expect Royal Mail to produce stamps, first day covers and presentation packs, perhaps from the single machine that they have retained for that purpose - or maybe they will be produced by Cartor/Walsall on a sideways coil in the same way that self-adhesive stamps are for first day covers.

Something else to remind them about, perhaps?


Not this year, but maybe next year.


Thursday 7 September 2023

We're taking a break.

Our office will be closed from tonight until Monday 18th September.

Blog comments may be moderated during our closure, and some emails may be answered, but nothing will be posted except what we take with us!

Our shop will also be closed.

Monday 18th

We have returned and I'm catching up!   Orders will be sent tomorrow if I have time to complete them today.  

News soon about the future of Post Office Post & Go SSKs.


More competition for Royal Mail's parcel market, while business account customers look at more surcharges on their costs.


Post Office adds DPD to list of parcel companies it deals with.

According to The Telegraph, Royal Mail's retail partner, Post Office Ltd, has now reached agreement with French-owned courier company DPD for the acceptance of inland and international parcels at PO branches.

DPD Driver & Van (image: DPD)


DPD, which is owned by La Poste, has signed an agreement that will allow customers to select and pay for UK and international parcel services online before dropping them off at a Post Office branch.

Customers can choose to print the label at home or ask a member of staff in the branch to do it for them.

DPD provides delivery services for dozens of retailers in the UK, including Asos, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Ikea.

The deal extends the courier’s relationship with the Post Office following the launch of a click and collect service in 2021.

That partnership, which marked the Post Office’s first deal with an external courier firm in its 360-year history, enables people to pick up their DPD parcels from Post Office branches.

The online parcel service will also offer deliveries through Evri, the German courier that rebranded from Hermes last year.

It comes as a further blow to Royal Mail, which previously held an exclusive deal with the Post Office.

In a note to staff, Post Office deputy chief executive Owen Woodley said the company was at risk of continuing to lose customers because of its lack of online offering.

He said: “This is an incredibly competitive market, which is compounded by the fast rise of alternative PUDO [pick-up drop-off] providers, such as lockers. And we all know, the long-term decline of stamps will inevitably continue.

“We regard Parcels Online as being crucial to securing long term sustainable growth for our Postmasters through a multi-carrier and multi-channel Post Office.”

At launch, 3,600 Post Office branches will be available for the online DPD service, increasing to 4,000 next month.


Fuel, Green and Peak Surcharge extras for Royal Mail's Business Contract Customers.

ChannelX ("the leading provider of intelligence & news for all businesses and business people who ply their trade on online marketplaces)" reports on new fuel and green surcharges being applied by Royal Mail to business users' costs.


"Consumers (anyone that pays online or at the Post Office) won’t be impacted. But if you have a business account this is going to hit you hard.

"Put simply, this Christmas you’ll be paying a new 2p Green Surcharge, plus a new 10p Peak Surcharge, plus an additional 8% Fuel Surcharge for every parcel you send.

Fuel Surcharge

"We’ve become used to the Royal Mail Fuel Surcharge, which is applied on the product price after any discounts or commissions, and before VAT. They aim to keep this surcharge lower than other delivery companies. 

"Currently a fuel surcharge of 8.0% is applied to:

  • Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed® by 9am, 1pm and end of the day Sunday
  • Royal Mail Tracked 24® and Royal Mail Tracked 48®
  • Royal Mail 24® and Royal Mail 48®
  • Special Delivery Guaranteed Returns
  • Royal Mail Tracked Returns® and Mail Order Return
Green Surcharge

"The Green Surcharge applies to some products for Royal Mail account customers – you are basically being co-opted into making contributions towards funding decarbonisation measures in the Royal Mail network at a rate of 2p per item. The Green Surcharge will be introduced on or after the 6th of November 2023.

"You might be forgiven in questioning why this is being levied as a surcharge instead of just jacking up prices by 2p per item. It’s worth noting that as a surcharge Royal Mail can hike the rate any time they like with 30 days notice.

"The Green Surcharge is applied on the product price after any discounts or commissions or other surcharges, and before VAT for:

  • Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed® by 9am, 1pm and end of the day Sunday
  • Royal Mail Tracked 24® and Royal Mail Tracked 48®
  • Royal Mail 24® and Royal Mail 48®
  • Special Delivery Guaranteed Returns
  • Royal Mail Tracked Returns®
Peak Surcharge
"The Peak Surcharge is effective across Royal Mail’s busiest time of year when they scale-up their network at additional cost. In previous years, Royal Mail have always swallowed these costs… after all the more parcels you send the more money they make, but from this year onwards they appear to want penalise you for being busy over the Black Friday and Christmas period!

"The Peak Surcharge is applied on the product price after any discounts or commissions or other surcharges, and before VAT and will start to be charged from the 20th of November 2023 and be effective through to the 7th of January 2024.

For more details see the ChannelX report.

Why the Machin replacement definitives shouldn't be called the "Jennings" definitives.

As regular readers will know the definitive stamps of King Charles III feature a portrait of His Majesty The King created by Martin Jennings for the obverse of the new UK coinage and subsequently adapted for use on stamps.  As such some collectors and writers have referred to them as the 'Jennings definitives'.

The new coin effigy was carefully adjusted and digitally re-lit to make it suitable for use on definitive stamps, with the aim of creating a worthy successor to Arnold Machin’s classic image of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth. As with all new stamps, the image was approved by HM The King.

However, an interesting story crossed my screen last week from a reader who alerted me to a YouTube video by Graham Beck. 

Graham has produced the Exploring Stamps series of 137 videos (so far), and others which have done so much to engage youth collectors especially, but collectors of all age groups worldwide.  These were especially welcome during the Covid pandemic.

Graham approached Martin Jennings for an interview, and the response was interesting to say the least.

Martin Jennings from Exploring Stamps Video.

Apparently Jennings wasn’t happy with the resulting stamp. 

He produced a bas-relief sculpture for the coin, which was its intended purpose (see above)

Royal Mail took that design and did not consult him when they then turned it into the postage stamp, despite his requesting collaboration when he found out that they were using his sculpture. 

Arnold Machin had used a deep relief (see below), a very defined relief sculpture that he then took several photographs of with several different combinations of lighting to create the famous Machin image. This (King Charles) image did not go through that process, and apparently it is a lot more flat than the Machin design, as can be seen by comparing the two pictures here.

(Text edited from video soundtrack with permission.)

Arnold Machin and Queen Elizabeth II deep relief sculpture. © Royal Mail Group.


Life's strange, isn't it?   Royal Mail have been approached for comment.

Dame Shirley Bassey (Music Giants 8) - 21 September 2023

With the embargo date only 2 days after the issue of the Paddington stamps Royal Mail runs the risk of the latter being overwhelmed by Shirely Bassey before it has really got started!

Royal Mail is celebrating the unique voice and iconic status of Dame Shirley Bassey 70 years on from the start of her career in 1953 with a set of eight special stamps capturing her spellbinding performances and a miniature sheet with four stamps shows a more natural side of Dame Shirley with photographs taken during recording sessions and rehearsals.

Dame Shirley Bassey is one of Britain’s best-loved performers and the first female vocalist whose albums have charted in the UK top 40 over seven consecutive decades. Born in 1937 in Tiger Bay, Cardiff, Dame Shirley toured theatres and revues until she signed a record deal with Philips and scored the number one hit, ‘As I Love You’, in 1959. 

By the 1970s, she was an international star with numerous hit albums spanning contemporary pop, show tunes and soundtracks. Some of her greatest work was with film composer John Barry, creating the James Bond themes ‘Goldfinger’, ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ and ‘Moonraker’, which became her signature songs. 

In the 1990s and 2000s, she attracted a whole new audience, performing the official song for the 1999 Rugby World Cup with Bryn Terfel and attending the 2007 Glastonbury Festival in diamante wellington boots. She was awarded a CBE in 1994 and a DBE in 1999.

The stamps

Set of 8 stamps featuring Shirely Bassey, Music Giants 8 - issued 21 September 2023

1st Class: Performing at the Pigalle nightclub, London, 13 September 1965 

Photo: R McPhedran/Express/Getty Images

1st Class: Performing in Bournemouth, October 1974 

Photo:  David Redfern/ Redferns/Getty Images

1st Class: Performing at the BBC Electric Proms, The Roundhouse, London, 23 October 2009 

Photo:  Brian Rasic/Getty Images

1st Class: Performing at the Safeway Picnic in the Park 2002 

Photo:  Simon Meaker /Alamy Stock Photo

£2.00: Hyde Park, London, 29 June 2002 

Photo:  Simon Meaker /Alamy Stock Photo

£2.00: Performing in Brighton. 

Photo:  David Butler / Shutterstock, under license from

£2.00: Singing ‘World in Union’ (with Bryn Terfel) during the Opening Ceremony of the Rugby World Cup, Cardiff, 1 October 1999 

Photo:  Gary M Prior/ Allsport/Getty Images

£2.00: Performing during the Oscars held at the Dolby Theatre, Hollywood, California, 24 February 2013 

Photo:  Mark Davis /Wireimage/Getty Images

Miniature sheet

The miniature sheet features four stamps with a beautiful selection of candid photographs taken of Dame Shirley Bassey during recording sessions and rehearsal sessions throughout her illustrious career.

Set of 4 stamps in miniature sheet featuring Shirely Bassey, Music Giants 8 - issued 21 September 2023

1st Class:  Rehearsing before a concert at the Royal Albert Hall to celebrate her 25 years in show business, March 1978;   During rehearsals before the opening of her season at the Talk of the Town theatre in London, 26 September 1962.

£2.00:  In the recording studio, 1961;  At Grouse Lodge Studios, Ireland, 2009.

Technical details

Probably* -  Printed in sheets of 48, horizontal se-tenant strips of 4, in lithography on gummed paper perf 14.5.   The 146 x 74 mm miniature sheet with stamps 41 x 30 mm is also printed in litho on gummed paper but self-adhesive. All are printed by Cartor Security Printers.

*Design/photography details of sheet stamps awaited.

Miniature sheet:  Design by Royal Mail Group Ltd.  Photo acknowledgements:
Rehearsing before a concert at the Royal Albert Hall, photo © Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images; Talk of the Town theatre in London, 26 September 1962, photo © George Freston/Fox Photos/Getty Images;
in the recording studio, 1961, photo © Jon Lyons/Shutterstock, under license from; at Grouse Lodge Studios, Ireland, 2009, photo © Danny Clifford; border:
pictured in October 1973, photo © Victor Blackman/Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Prestige Stamp Book

Music Giants 8: Shirley Bassey prestige stamp book with panes 1-4 in order as shown.
Definitive pane 4 is self-adhesive and contains 1 x 10p, 1 x 2nd class and 2 x 1st class
King Charles definitive stamps, coded M23L MPIL

Scan of actual definitive pane

Actual definitive pane from Shirley Bassey PSB; click for larger images in all cases.


My thanks to RP for sending this picture of the most spectacular PSB error anyone has seen for a long time.  It's more spectacular than my Music Giants Queen error.   The book was in his order from Royal Mail Edinburgh.

Here is a pane inverted, and face down in the book (ie facing the back) apparently from the foot of the primary sheet.  The stack of books has then been guillotined leaving this pane with only the values showing on the upper stamps and a huge margin at the foot.

Inverted and reversed definitive Shirley Bassey PSB primary sheet leaves a huge miscut with only the values showing in the upper stamps.

Obviously there will be a few more from the bottom of the sheet, and a greater number which have the (majority) top part of the 1st and 10p stamps at the foot of the pane. 

Products available

Set of 8 stamps, miniature sheet, first day covers (2), presentation pack, stamp cards (13), prestige stamp book, Collectors sheet, Fan sheet, press sheet of 18 miniature sheets, coin covers, framed stamp set, framed Collectors sheet, and framed stamped set signed in gold ink by Dame Shirley Bassey edition of 70(price £250).

Collectors Sheet

The eight stamps with attached pictorial label - these are self-adhesive and therefore different to the sheet stamps.  (Price £13.60)

Shirley Bassey Collectors Sheet of 8 self-adhesive stamps.

All these will be available from the Royal Mail website and some Post Office branches.

Wednesday 6 September 2023

King Charles III make-up definitives, from official first day covers.

I can now show in detail the King Charles III definitive stamps used on Royal Mail's official first day covers.

These pictures show more clearly that there are no security slits.  According to a comment on the previous blogpost - you can click on the images to see them enlarged.

Royal Mail said: "I can confirm that there has been no error in the stamps used for our First Day Covers. As the stamps on a First Day Cover are not for use, they are produced using stamps from a coil that do not have the elliptical security markings."

Set of 7 King Charles III definitives without security slits on Royal Mail first day covers.

I have some of these available as I did with the Wales barcoded stamps FDC last year.  The price is £15.00 in the UK, by bank transfer, including postage.   Please email as soon as possible.

Outside the UK, and other methods of payment, please ask.  Only a few available.

All now allocated with a waiting list for any that are not taken up.

Anonymous Comments - to be or not to be, that is the question!

Regular readers will know that I have often asked for readers to avoid leaving their comments anonymous.  There are too many of them to know which is which, and in some cases that is relevant.

This is why if you go to make a comment you will see this text:

The blog settings allow for this to be stopped, but then there are only two other options:

The alternatives are that 

- only the members can comment - members are anybody who can initiate or edit a post; or

- only Users with Google Accoounts

I don't want to force anybody to have a Google account.   These are the options facing anybody providing a comment:

but the settings do not distinguish between 'Anonymous' and 'Name/URL'. 

I would like to see there being no 'Anonymous'  option.  Even if you use a name, you don't need a URL.  

There is no way for the moderators to individually contact any commenter other than those with Google accounts.  

If I do decide that there will be no more Anonymous comments, only pseudonyms, you Anonymous people will waste a lot of time commenting only for your comment to be deleted and not published.

So please use a name - or better still a Google account if you have one - to make life easier.  You don't really have anything to hide.

Friday 1 September 2023

Post and GOne – Royal Mail announce P&G Closing at Christmas 2023.

Royal Mail Stamps and Collectibles has announced the closure of Post and Go.

"Following a thorough review of our Post & Go Kiosks we have taken the decision to end all remaining Post & Go activities by the end of this year.

"Several factors have contributed to this decision including the fact that there has been no new Post and Go issues for several years and the change of Monarch would now require new issues to be re-introduced.

"Existing kiosks will remain operational through until Christmas, including a final overprint on certain kiosks, details of these will be shared by our operational partners at IAR soon. 

"All remaining Post & Go kiosks will shut down on 31st December 2023 and be removed from all sites shortly afterwards."

Background to Post and Go, original website article 2008.


Original Wincor-Nixdorf installation at Birmingham Post Office October 2008.

Edit: NB this announcement only applies to Royal Mail machines provided by IAR, installed in museums.

I have enquired as to the situation regarding Jersey Post, Guernsey Post and Gibraltar Post which all use IAR machines, and about Post Office Self-Service Kiosks which use different machines.

UPDATE 5 September - replies from Postal Administrations.
Good morning. We have no plans to withdraw our Post & Go machines. We'll be releasing our 2024 stamp schedule in the near future with full details of what's coming up next year.
Morning  We also have no plans to withdraw the machines, keep an eye out next year for new issues!

1st class post to increase to £1.25 from 2 October 2023

To start this post I'll repeat today' press release.  As I find more about prices I will include it below.

A second post today concerns Post & Go activities. 

Royal Mail Press Release - Stamp prices

1 September 2023 

From 2 October 2023, the price of First Class stamps will increase by 15p to £1.25 due to increasing cost pressures, the challenging economic environment, and the lack of reform of the Universal Service Obligation (USO) despite the significant structural decline in letter volumes. The price of Second Class stamps will remain at 75p.

The new price of a First Class stamp is in line with European median prices, and Second Class stamp prices remain well below the median. Royal Mail has sought to keep price increases as low as possible in the face of declining letter volumes. Letter volumes have fallen from 20 billion in 2004/5 to 7 billion a year in 2022/3, while the number of addresses has risen by four million in the same period.

The USO – which currently requires Royal Mail to deliver letters to all 32 million UK addresses six days a week – is in need of urgent reform. Royal Mail has been clear that the cost of delivering an ever-decreasing number of letters to an ever-growing number of households six days a week is unsustainable. Ofcom’s own research in 2020 shows that that a five day a week Monday to Friday letters service would
meet the needs of 97% of consumers and SMEs. Given the ongoing decline in letters, Royal Mail continues to call on Ofcom and the Government to review and modernise the USO to better reflect changing customer needs.

At the full year results in May 2023, Royal Mail reported a £419 million loss.

Nick Landon, Chief Commercial Officer at Royal Mail said: “We understand the economic challenges that many of our customers are currently facing and have considered the price changes very carefully in light of the significant decline in letter volumes.  Letter volumes have reduced dramatically over recent years, down more than 60% from their peak in 2004/5 and 30% since the pandemic. It is vital that the Universal  Service adapts to reflect this new reality.”

As this says, Ofcom have already found that five-day letter delivery would satisfy most users:

• The current USO service levels, including the six days a week (Monday-Saturday) letter delivery requirement, meets the needs of 98% of residential users and 97% of SMEs in the UK.

• Reducing the letters service to five days a week (Monday to Friday), but leaving all other elements of the service unchanged, would still meet the needs of 97% of residential and Small & Medium Enterprise (SME) users.

• We found very little variation in users’ views on five-day letter delivery across the UK, including the four nations of the UK or how remote users’ locations are. Variation by other characteristics such as age, disability or whether users had access to the internet was also very limited.

• However, reducing the frequency of letter delivery to three days a week would have a significantly larger impact on users, meeting around 62-78% of SMEs and 79-85% of residential users’ needs.

• The evidence suggests reducing the frequency of letter deliveries requirement to five days a week would reflect users’ reasonable needs. It would also potentially allow Royal Mail to make net cost savings of around £125-225m per year in 2022/23 terms, assuming Royal Mail is able to realise these savings by modifying its operational delivery model.

(You can read the full Ofcom '2020 Review of postal users needs' here.)

Amid falling mail volumes, and worldwide reductions in mail deliveries, the crux of the matter is that Royal Mail appears to be trying to force the regulator (Ofcom) to abide by its own research and reduce the USO to 5 days a week, while the regulator will almost certainly be under pressure from politicians not to permit this. So blame the politicians.

One thing that would be necessary would a change in posting habits of the NHS, and any other organisation sending communications which could be time-sensitive.  It is pointless sending appointment letters 5 days before the appointment by second class mail. More people need to accept reminders by text message (SMS) and more organisations need to embrace it.

Given the complaints that abound in the media, and on social media, many would say that they are only getting 3-day week delivery.  And remember that many people would not receive letters every day anyway.  There are days when we get none for the household, only for the business.

No news yet on changes for higher-weight items or premium, but we can assume we can confirm that 1st class Signed For will be £2.75, 2nd class SF stays at £2..25.

1st class Large will be £1.95 and 1st Large Signed For £3.45.   The rates for 500g rise to that for 750g across the board, but the top rate is unchanged.   At first sight parcel rates appear unchanged.

Special Delivery 100g rises 50p to £7.35, and 500g rises 50p to £8.15.

The new prices leaflet has now been made available for download here.

UPDATE 22 September 2023

In the same format as reported in earlier tariff posts, these are the changes in summary:

The 1st class inland letter rate will rise from £1.10 to £1.25.

The 2nd class letter rate remains at 75p, but the rates for large letters rise.

Small and Medium Parcel rates are unchanged.








Large Letter – 100g





- 250g





- 500g





- 750g





The effect on sets of Post and Go stamps is an increase of 35p on the 1st class collectors set and 40p on the 2nd class collectors set over the April rates.

There rates for Special Delivery 1pm rise from £6.85 to £7.35 for 100g, and there are 50p increases for other weight steps.

The rates for Signed For are also increasing, the extra is £1.50 for 1st class Letters and Large Letters on top of the rates in the table above. Parcel rates remain unchanged.

The cost of Post Office Boxes is unchanged from the April increase at £330.

There are no changes to International Rates.