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Barcoded stamps are the future

7 Apr 2022

barcoded stamps

After a successful trial period, Royal Mail has begun to roll out stamps with barcodes on a permanent basis. Unique barcodes will be added to all definitive stamps as well as all Christmas stamps. Definitive stamps are the ones that we use on an everyday basis with a side profile of HM The Queen (both 1st and 2nd class stamps). 

After 31st January 2023, definitive stamps without barcodes will no longer be accepted. Posting a non-barcoded stamp after this date will mean that you are liable to a surcharge because it will no longer be a viable form of postage. You must also ensure that the barcode remains intact when posting, otherwise the stamp will be invalid. The barcodes are the same colour as the stamp and sit alongside the main body, separated by a simulated perforation line.

Why are we transitioning to barcoded stamps?

The barcode ensures that each stamp is unique which provides an extra security layer. Each stamp will have a digital twin which it will be connected to via the most up-to-date version of the Royal Mail App. The unique barcodes will facilitate a more detailed postal tracking service and increase the efficiency of the Royal Mail’s postal operations. You don’t need to worry about a data breach, as no personal information will be held in the barcode. 

Royal Mail will be rolling out some exciting and unique new features too. Eventually customers will be able to watch videos, service information, birthday messages and greetings from senders, all by scanning their unique barcode in the Royal Mail App. In fact, you can already choose and share a Shaun The Sheep video to the recipient via the barcode, and you can expect many more in the near future! 

Nick Landon, Royal Mail’s commercial director, said in a statement: “The introduction of unique barcodes on our postage stamps allows us to connect the physical letter to the digital world.” 

The ‘Swap Out’ scheme 

Royal Mail opened a ‘Swap Out’ scheme on the 31st March 2022 for people who want to exchange their existing definitive stamps for barcoded ones. You can collect a ‘Swap Out’ form from your local Delivery Office’s Customer Service Point, print one off the Royal Mail website; or contact Royal Mail customer service and have one posted out to you. Unfortunately swap out forms are not yet available in Post Offices, but keep an eye on our social media channels and we’ll let you know when they are. Please note it will not be possible to swap stamps at any Post Office branch.

Christmas stamps

Any new Christmas stamps from now on will be barcoded, however you do not need to swap out your old Christmas stamps for new ones. Non-barcoded Christmas stamps will continue to be accepted after January 2023. 

Commemorative stamps

The only stamps that will remain non-barcoded are the special issue stamps which are produced as a one-off in order to commemorate a person or event in the UK. 

Royal Mail is encouraging everyone to use up as many of their non-barcoded stamps as possible, with a reminder to swap out any remaining stamps before next January.

If you have any questions – just ask at your nearest Post Office.

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