Royal Mail U-turn means Christmas stamps CAN still be used after 2023 despite shift to barcode system
If you have old Christmas stamps you CAN continue to use them after 31 January 2023 following a Royal Mail U-turn. The postal service had initially announced, as part of a wider shake-up, that Christmas stamps would be replaced by new barcoded versions from 31 January 2023. This would have rendered old festive stamps useless unless swapped.
Update: 4 August 2022: You've now got less than six months to use any non-barcoded everyday stamps – those with the Queen's profile on – before they become worthless on 31 January 2023. Alternatively, you can swap them for barcoded versions for free using Royal Mail's 'Swap Out' scheme. See our latest Stamps shake-up MSE News story for full info and help.
But while Royal Mail says it will still add a barcode to new Christmas stamps, it's confirmed that "following discussions with key stakeholders, including feedback from our customers", non-barcoded Christmas stamps will remain valid.
The U-turn means you can continue to use Christmas and "special" commemorative stamps, such as the Doctor Who collection, after 31 January 2023 – and they don't need to be swapped for barcoded alternatives.
Any other stamps, however, including all those with the Queen's head on them that say '1st' or '2nd' class, or any other price, will not be valid after 31 January 2023. You will need to swap them for a barcoded version (see below for more on this) or pay an as-yet-undisclosed surcharge to continue to use them.
Royal Mail first announced the shake-up to switch to using barcoded stamps on 1 February 2022.
You'll be able to 'swap out' old stamps for free
It'll be possible to exchange current stamps for barcoded ones for free under Royal Mail's new 'Swap Out' scheme, which opens on 31 March 2022 and will run until 31 March 2023.
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