Stamp prices to rise by 12% – but there is a way to beat the increase
Standard stamp prices are to rise by up to 12%, Royal Mail has confirmed. From Monday 4 April, the cost of 1st class stamps will be hiked to 95p (up 10p), while 2nd class stamps will increase to 68p (up 2p).
In past years, we'd normally suggest you stock up on stamps marked '1st' or '2nd' (not the ones with a price) as they're still valid after any hikes.
But things are a little bit more complicated this year. New barcoded stamps are now being rolled out, meaning existing ones will no longer be valid without paying extra costs from 31 January 2023.
After this date, of the stamps that are currently in use, you'll only be able to send post with Christmas stamps (following a Royal Mail U-turn) and collectable stamps, such as those in the Doctor Who series.
You've got a few weeks to stock up on current stamps in order to beat the impending price rise, but if you want to use them after January 2023, they'll need to be exchanged for barcoded stamps. Royal Mail is launching a free 'Swap Out' scheme, which opens on Thursday 31 March and will be available to use until 31 March 2023. We don't know the full details yet, such as if there are any limits on the numbers you can swap and if you're covered for non-delivery.
Other stamps rising in price from Monday 4 April include large letter stamps, which will increase to £1.45 (up 16p) for 1st class and to £1.05 (up 9p) for 2nd class. A standard letter can weigh up to 100g and measure a maximum of 24cm x 16.5cm x 5mm. Meanwhile, large letters can measure 35.3cm x 25cm x 2.5cm, but still have to weigh 100g or less – if they weigh more, you'll have to pay extra.
See our Parcel delivery guide to help cut the cost of parcel couriers.
Stamp changes: key dates
If you want to make the most of lower stamp prices and avoid holding on to books of unusable stamps, pay attention to these deadlines over the next 12 months:
- Between now and 3 April 2022. Last chance to buy 1st class stamps for 85p, 2nd class stamps for 66p.
- 4 April 2022. 1st class stamps rise to 95p, 2nd class rise to 68p.
- 31 March 2022. Royal Mail 'Swap Out' scheme opens to exchange stamps with '1st' or '2nd' class markings with new, barcoded stamps.
- 31 January 2023. Only barcoded, Christmas and collectable stamps can be used to send post.
- 31 March 2023. The 'Swap Out' scheme closes. Any stamps without a barcode (excluding Christmas and collectable stamps) can no longer be used.
What does Royal Mail say?
Commenting on the price hikes, Royal Mail chief commercial officer Nick Landon said: "While the number of letters our postmen and women deliver has declined from around 20 billion a year to around seven billion since 2004/05, the number of addresses they have to deliver to has grown by around 3.5 million in the same period.
"We need to carefully balance our pricing against declining letter volumes and increasing costs of delivering to a growing number of addresses six days a week."