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Last chance: Stock up on postage stamps now before prices rise by up to 13% on 2 April

You've got less than a week left to stock up on Royal Mail postage stamps before prices rise by up to 13% on Tuesday 2 April. Below we explain the key changes and how to beat the hikes.

Here's how prices are changing:

Standard and large letter stamp prices

Class & letter size (1) Current price Price from Tuesday 2 April Price rise (%)
First – standard £1.25 £1.35 10p (+8%)
First – large £1.95 £2.10 15p (+8%)
Second – standard 75p 85p 10p (+13%)
Second – large £1.55 £1.55 No change

(1) Standard and large letters using the stamps above can weigh 100g max (large letters can weigh up to 750g using other stamps). Standard must be no larger than 24cm x 16.5cm x 5mm. Large letters can be no bigger than 35.3cm x 25cm x 2.5cm.

The cost of Royal Mail's 'Signed For', 'Special Delivery Guaranteed' and 'Tracked' services will also increase from 2 April, as will the cost of sending small and medium parcels by first and second class. See a full list of prices (link opens PDF).

Martin Lewis: 'Every time stamps go up in price I've suggested people stock up and bulk-buy in advance'

Martin Lewis, MSE founder.

Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: "For years, every time stamps go up in price I've suggested people stock up and bulk-buy in advance, as provided the stamp doesn't have a price on it and instead just says the postage class, it's still valid after the hike.

"This has been an effective tactic, as a first-class letter stamp is now £1.25, soon to be rising to £1.35 – in 2012 it was just 60p. So you may as well stock up now."

If you stock up on stamps now, be careful to avoid fakes. If you use a counterfeit stamp, your recipient may have to pay a £5 surcharge. Royal Mail said: "We would always recommend that customers buy their stamps from reputable high street outlets and, where possible, to get a receipt. Stamps are also available directly from the Royal Mail online shop." (Be mindful that delivery charges may apply here, though.)

If you're aware of a retailer or individual selling suspicious stamps, you should report this to Royal Mail via its website (or by calling 03457 740 740), to fraud reporting centre Action Fraud and to your local Trading Standards office.

For more guidance on spotting counterfeit stamps, see the Royal Mail website.

The price of standard-letter first-class stamps has risen three times in the past year

It's the third time the price of standard-letter size first-class stamps has been hiked within a year – they went up 16% last April (from 95p to £1.10) and then rose by a further 14% in October (to the current £1.25). 

Standard second-class stamp prices were frozen at 75p in October 2023, though they'd increased by 10% in the April before (from 68p).

Royal Mail blames the latest hikes on increasing cost pressures, wage increases and its requirement under the 'universal service obligation' to deliver letters to all UK addresses six days a week. It adds that the number of addresses it delivers to rose by four million between 2004/05 and 2022/23. 

Nick Landon, chief commercial officer at Royal Mail, said: "We face a situation where letter volumes have reduced dramatically over recent years, while costs have increased. It is no longer sustainable to maintain a network built for 20 billion letters when we are now only delivering seven billion.

"As a result of letter volume decline, our posties now have to walk more than three times as far to deliver the same number of letters as before, increasing the delivery costs per letter."

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

Still have non-barcoded stamps? Exchange them using Royal Mail's 'Swap Out' scheme

On 31 July 2023, Royal Mail scrapped everyday non-barcoded stamps – the ones that feature a profile of the Queen's head – in favour of barcoded versions. You can no longer use these non-barcoded stamps, but you can still exchange them for new barcoded versions for free.

It's worth noting that Christmas stamps or 'special' stamps with pictures on are still valid, so you won't need to swap these.

To swap your 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 (links open PDFs). If you don't have a printer, you can request a form on the Royal Mail website. Both forms include instructions on where to send your stamps.

There is currently no deadline on when you need to complete the swap by, but we suggest doing it sooner rather than later in case the scheme closes. Royal Mail says it'll try to swap your stamps within seven working days.

For more information on the 'Swap Out' scheme, see Royal Mail's website.

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