THE clock is ticking for people to use old Royal Mail stamps before they become worthless.
Today (July 31) is the last day to use non-barcoded stamps before they're replaced with barcoded ones.
This means anyone with a stash of 1st or 2nd class stamps has just hours left to use them before they become invalid.
If you continue to use old stamps after today, you could face a surcharge in the same way that you would if you sent mail with insufficient postage.
This will have to be paid by the recipient of the post.
However, commemorative and non-barcoded Christmas stamps will still be valid.
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The move will make letter sending more secure, but it doesn't make post any easier or cheaper for customers to track.
When will my 1st and 2nd class stamps expire?
From July 31, 2023, you won't be able to use the current style of stamps that feature an image of The Queen's head.
Instead, only the new style stamps complete with their new barcodes will be valid, and you'll face a surcharge trying to use anything otherwise.
They will be replaced by similar stamps with a barcode attached next to them.
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Royal Mail said that every barcode will be unique and will enable the introduction of added security features – including information about relevant postal services.
What can I do with my old stamps?
Stamps can be traded in before the cut-off deadline – and Royal Mail will let you do it for free.
Customers will have to fill out a "Swap-Out" form on the Royal Mail website or call the postal giant directly to request a form.
Alternatively, you can get one in person from a local delivery office – but not a Post Office.
You can find your local delivery office by using the online locator tool on the Royal Mail website.
You'll then have to post back the stamps you want to swap to a Freepost address.
But if you have more than £200 worth of stamps, Royal Mail recommends these are sent by recorded delivery.
And if you have more than £2,500 worth of stamps to swap, you need to contact the Royal Mail’s offices in Edinburgh.
How much do stamps cost?
In April, Royal Mail hiked the price of first class stamps by 15p to £1.10.
The price of second class stamps jumped by 7p to 75p.
These changes have been subject to careful consideration by Royal Mail in light of the 25 per cent drop in letters being sent since the pandemic.
Increasing costs and high inflation rates are also to blame for the price hikes.
Royal Mail charges different postage prices depending on the size or weight of the item.
The stamps can be bought individually if you buy them at a Post Office counter.
Otherwise, you can typically buy them in sets of multiple stamps.
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First class stamps are more expensive than second class, as they will get your letter to its destination faster.
You can buy second class stamps individually from the Post Office.
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