Royal Mail launches 'swap' scheme for non-barcoded stamps


31 March 2022
Royal Mail today has announced the launch of its Swap Out scheme that will allow customers to swap their non-barcoded Definitive stamps for the equivalent value of barcoded stamps.

Definitive stamps are the regular ‘everyday’ stamps featuring the profile of The Queen, but all those issued before 2021 will become invalid on 31 January 2023 as new barcoded stamps replace them.

Royal Mail have now confirmed the plans for the swap scheme, and also stated that any mail posted with non-barcoded Definitive stamps after 31 January 2023 will be treated in the same way as if there is insufficient postage on an item.

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New barcoded stamps

In February, Royal Mail announced it is moving to barcoded stamps as part of the company’s extensive and ongoing modernisation drive. The unique barcodes – actually more like QR codes – can, according to Royal Mail, 'facilitate operational efficiencies, enable the introduction of added security features and pave the way for innovative services for customers'.

The new stamps also allow customers to watch and share exclusive videos – such as a specially created Shaun the Sheep video by Aardman, and a Mother’s Day video - by scanning the barcode in the Royal Mail App.

The new barcoded stamps will have a digital twin and the two will be connected by the Royal Mail App. The barcodes match the stamp colour and sit alongside the main body of the stamp, separated by a simulated perforation line.

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So what about the non-barcoded stamps?

Customers are being encouraged to use-up their non-barcoded stamps before 31 January 2023.

However, those who cannot do so can swap their non-barcoded stamps for the equivalent value of barcoded stamps by completing a Swap Out form.

Customers will need to enclose the non-barcoded stamps and post the form and the stamps to Royal Mail using a Freepost service.

Which stamps are eligible for the Swap Out scheme?

Eligible stamps are the regular 1st and 2nd Class ‘everyday’, unused stamps featuring the profile of HM The Queen and those that show any other value.

Non-barcoded Christmas and other special stamps with pictures on continue to be valid for postage and should not be submitted for swap out. Customers only need to swap out the ‘everyday’ stamps featuring the profile of The Queen.

Obtaining a Swap Out form:

There are three ways customers can obtain a Swap Out form:

  • Via the Royal Mail website at where customers can download a form. Customers who do not have access to a printer can instead complete a web form and request a form be posted to them.
  • By contacting Royal Mail’s Customer Experience team by telephone on 03457 740740 and requesting a form be posted to them.
  • By visiting one of more than 1,200 local delivery office Customer Service Points, where they can pick up a form in person.

Customers can complete a standard Swap Out form for stamps worth up to the value of £200.

Customers wishing to swap stamps with a value of more than £200 will need to request and complete a Bulk Stamp Swap Out form. Bulk Stamp Swap Out forms can be requested from

Royal Mail will launch an ongoing nationwide awareness programme, that will run throughout the year, to ensure that everyone who wishes to swap out their stamps will have the opportunity to do so. The campaign will include press and radio advertising and a national door drop leaflet delivered to every household in the UK.

Returning the Swap Out form:

Customers returning the form and non-barcoded stamps can do so free of charge.

Customers who pick up a Swap Out form from a local delivery office Customer Service Point or request one to be posted to them – will also receive a freepost envelope.

Customers who print off a Swap Out form can address an envelope to: Freepost SWAP OUT. No other address details are needed.

What do you think?

We’d love to know what you think about Royal Mail’s plans.

Will you be swapping any of your stamps for the new versions or keeping them safe in your album?
Do you like the barcoded stamps and will you be collecting them too?

Let us know your thoughts, and if you have any questions you’d like us to put to Royal Mail.