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Stamp prices to rise by up to 16% – but there's a way to beat the hike

Standard stamp prices are to rise by up to 16%, Royal Mail has confirmed. From Monday 3 April, the cost of first-class stamps will be hiked to £1.10 (up 15p from 95p), while second-class stamps will increase to 75p (up 7p from 68p).

This means you have until Sunday 2 April to stock up on first or second-class stamps to secure them at their current price to beat the hike. Just ensure you're given new barcoded stamps rather than old-style versions without a barcode. 

In February last year, Royal Mail announced it would scrap non-barcoded 'everyday' stamps that feature a profile of the Queen's head. You'd no longer be able to use these types of stamps from 31 January 2023, but this deadline was later extended for a further six months in recognition of users needing more time to adjust to the change. It means non-barcoded stamps can still be used until 31 July 2023 (or swapped for barcoded stamps – see below for more on this).

From Monday 3 April, the cost of stamps will rise as follows:

Standard letters (max 100g, 24cm x 16.5cm x 5mm)

  • First class: £1.10 (up from 95p)
  • Second class: 75p (up from 68p)

Large letters (max 100g, 35.3cm x 25cm x 2.5cm)

  • First class: £1.60 (up from £1.45)
  • Second class: £1.15 (up from £1.05)

Royal Mail blames the increases on a "25% drop in letter volumes since the pandemic, increasing costs and the highest inflation rates for a generation".

For larger deliveries, see our Parcel delivery guide to help cut the cost of parcel couriers.

If you still need to swap your non-barcoded stamps, exchange them NOW via Royal Mail's 'Swap Out' scheme

Don't think you'll use your old stamps before 31 July? Royal Mail's 'Swap Out' scheme lets you exchange these stamps for free, and there is currently no deadline for swapping out stamps.

You'll need to complete a standard 'Swap Out' form for stamps worth up to £200, or a Bulk Stamp 'Swap Out' form for stamps worth more than £200.

You don't, however, need to exchange Christmas stamps and 'special' stamps with pictures on, as they will continue to be valid after the 31 July deadline. 

There are three ways to get a standard form: 

  • Phone Royal Mail's customer services team on 03457 740740 and ask for a form to be posted for free. Calls to this number are capped at your standard geographical rate, so you may want to check with your phone network how much it'll cost beforehand.

  • Visit your local post office OR delivery office where you can pick up a form and envelope in person. ALL delivery and post offices will stock them. This means you'll be able to fill in a form, pop it into a Freepost envelope with any remaining non-barcoded stamps and hand it over at the post office.

If you need a Bulk Stamp Swap Out form, you can print this out from the Royal Mail website (link opens a PDF) or request one online, or call the Royal Mail customer services number above. 

There's no limit on the number of forms you can request.

It's free to post your form and stamps back to Royal Mail 

How you return your stamps to Royal Mail depends on how you picked up your Swap Out form: 

  • If you collected your form from a local delivery office or post office, or requested one to be sent to you, you'll have been given a Freepost envelope. Send this off with your stamps once you're ready.

  • If you printed the form yourself, you'll need to send your own envelope to 'Freepost SWAP OUT'. It'll be free to post, and no other address details are needed.

Unfortunately, there's no way to get proof of postage when you send the Freepost envelope. 

However, Royal Mail advises that those sending Bulk Swap Out forms send them via special delivery. Royal Mail will refund the additional cost to do this with barcoded stamps worth the same amount.

You can't take stamps to the post office to be swapped but, as mentioned above, you can pick up a form and post it from your local branch.

You should get your new stamps within seven working days

Royal Mail says it will try to ensure all stamps are swapped within seven working days.

If you accidentally send stamps that aren't part of the Swap Out scheme to Royal Mail, it's said it will swap them for barcoded stamps – although it encourages people to use those stamps up first if they can.

Be warned: we've spotted several complaints online and in our reader inbox from people who say they've experienced delays in receiving their stamps back, or that their stamps have gone missing in the post. If you have any issues you should contact Royal Mail on 03457 740740.

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