When do stamps expire? How to swap out Royal Mail stamps without barcodes

Stamps without barcodes will soon expire.  (Brett Jordan/Unsplash)
Stamps without barcodes will soon expire. (Brett Jordan/Unsplash)

Royal Mail has extended the deadline to use non-barcoded stamps, following the introduction of barcoded stamps in February 2022.

Royal Mail introduced the barcoded stamps last year to improve security and efficiency as part of the company’s modernisation drive.

As a result, stamps featuring the late Queen’s profile that don’t have barcodes will soon be invalid.

Find out which stamps are affected and how you can swap yours for the new editions below.

Which stamps will no longer be valid?

While both barcoded and non-barcoded stamps are currently in circulation, from July 31 stamps without barcodes that feature the late Queen’s profile will no longer be valid.

This follows a six month extension to the original January 31 deadline.

All standard decimal Machin series definitive stamps – including no-value-indicated stamps (such as 1st class, 2nd class, 1st class large letter, 2nd class large letter) and make-up value stamps (such as 1p, 2p, 10p and £1) – and international tariff stamps will no longer be valid.

All Country definitive stamps, including Regional/Country Machins (1971-1999) and the replacement Country Emblems (1999 to present) will no longer be valid either.

However, special edition stamps without barcodes, such as Christmas stamps or commemorative stamps, will still be valid.

How do you swap out non-barcoded stamps?

Ahead of the deadline, which is July 31, 2023, people with non-barcoded stamps featuring the Queen are urged to use them.

However, if they know they won’t use them by then, they can swap them for stamps with barcodes.

The Royal Mail has launched a swap-out scheme to help people switch to barcoded stamps, which can be accessed on the Royal Mail website.

Be aware that stamps cannot be swapped at post offices.

Royal Mail has not yet set a deadline for the swap-out scheme, so if you find you still have old stamps after the postage deadline, you can still swap them.