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Countdown for customers to use up their non-barcoded stamps

Royal Mail is advising customers to check their wallets and drawers to find and use their non-barcoded Definitive stamps before they become invalid.

After 31 January 2023 Definitive stamps will not be valid for postage unless they carry the unique barcode introduced by Royal Mail in February 2022.

Today begins a 100-day countdown before non-barcoded stamps become invalid. With Christmas fast approaching, now is the perfect time to use up non-barcoded stamps when sending festive greetings to friends and family.

There are some non-barcoded stamps that can be used after the deadline. Customers can continue to use Special Stamps issued on a theme or to commemorate special events and non-barcoded Christmas stamps, as these will continue to be valid for postage. These cannot be swapped for barcoded stamps.

If customers cannot use up their non-barcoded Definitive ‘everyday’ stamps before the deadline, they can swap them for equivalent in barcoded stamps. The Swap Out scheme opened on 31 March 2022 and there is currently no end date as to when customers should swap their non-barcoded stamps by - so they will still be able to access the swap out option after 31 January 2023.

Royal Mail is keen to ensure that no customers are left out of pocket following the transition. People who cannot use their stamps before 31 Jan 2023 can swap their non-barcoded stamps for barcoded equivalents – free of charge

Swap Out forms are available from: where a form can be printed or requested

• Royal Mail’s Customer Experience team – customers can call 03457 740740 and request a form be posted to them

• More than 1,200 local delivery office Customer Service Points

Earlier this month Royal Mail launched a national awareness programme to ensure that everyone who wishes to swap out their stamps will have the opportunity to do so. Leaflets are being delivered to 31 million addresses, giving people the opportunity to swap their old stamps for the new barcoded version. A national marketing campaign has also been launched in newspapers, on radio and on social media.

The unique barcodes now used on stamps can facilitate operational efficiencies, enable the introduction of added security features and pave the way for innovative services for customers.

Customers can now watch and share exclusive videos by scanning the barcoded stamp in the Royal Mail App. The two videos, both featuring Shaun the Sheep, were made exclusively for Royal Mail by multi-award-winning British animation studio, Aardman. Of the current videos available, one is a generic, fun animation and the other a ‘Happy Birthday’ message.

More videos will be released in the coming months.

David Gold, Director External Affairs & Policy said:

“The 100-day countdown to use up existing supplies of Definitive stamps has now begun. Many of us have stamps kept in drawers and wallets, or in a tray on a desk or tucked away on the mantlepiece. With Christmas approaching, now is the perfect time to use them up. If that is not possible, customers are invited to swap them for barcoded stamps of the same value, completely free of charge.”

Barcoded stamps were first trialled in March 2021. Following the success of the trial we announced in February 2022 that we would be adding unique barcodes to all our Definitive postage stamps and Christmas Special Stamps.

The call to use existing stocks of stamps or swap them for barcoded stamps of the equivalent value is not connected to the change of Monarch. Further details on stamps featuring His Majesty King Charles III will be made at the appropriate time, after consultation with the Royal Household

Stamps eligible for the Swap Out scheme:

Eligible stamps are the regular 1st and 2nd Class ‘everyday’ stamps, and all other values, featuring the profile of Her Late Queen Elizabeth.

Non-barcoded Christmas and other special stamps with pictures on continue to be valid for postage and should not be submitted for swap out. Customers only need to swap out the ‘everyday’ stamps featuring the profile of The Queen.

Stamps that have already been used for postage will not be accepted on the Swap Out scheme.

Obtaining a Swap Out form:

There are three ways customers can obtain a Swap Out form:

• Via the Royal Mail website at where customers can download a form. Customers who do not have access to a printer can instead complete a web form and request a form be posted to them.

By contacting Royal Mail’s Customer Experience team by telephone on 03457 740740 and requesting a form be posted to them.

• By visiting one of more than 1,200 local delivery office Customer Service Points, where they can pick up a form in person.

Customers can complete a standard Swap Out form for stamps worth up to the value of £200.

Customers wishing to swap stamps with a value of more than £200 will need to request and complete a Bulk Stamp Swap Out form.

Bulk Stamp Swap Out forms can be requested from

Royal Mail will launch an ongoing nationwide awareness programme, that will run throughout the year, to ensure that everyone who wishes to swap out their stamps will have the opportunity to do so. The campaign will include press and radio advertising and a national door drop leaflet delivered to every household in the UK.

Returning the Swap Out form:

Customers returning the form and non-barcoded stamps can do so free of charge.

Customers who pick up a Swap Out form from a local delivery office Customer Service Point or request one to be posted to them – will also receive a freepost envelope.

Customers who print off a Swap Out form can address an envelope to: Freepost SWAP OUT. No other address details are needed.

Royal Mail will endeavour to process all Swap Out forms within seven working days.

Mail posted with non-barcoded stamps after 31 January 2023:

Mail posted with non-barcoded Definitive stamps after 31 January 2023 will be treated in the same way as if there is insufficient postage on an item. Any item that has insufficient postage may be subject to a surcharge.


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