MILLIONS of stamps will soon be worthless in a matter of weeks.
Royal Mail has started to phase in newer barcoded stamps, which will replace old-style stamps from January 31 2023.
This means anyone with a stash of 1st or 2nd class stamps has just weeks left to use them before they become invalid.
The move will make letter sending more secure, but it doesn't make post any easier or cheaper for customers to track.
From January 31, only the new style stamps complete with barcodes will be valid, and you'll face a surcharge if you try to use anything otherwise.
The barcodes will soon become commonplace on all standard and Christmas stamps with each one having a "digital twin" that contains a unique code alongside it.
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Nick Landon, chief commercial officer at Royal Mail, said: “This initiative will see Royal Mail become one of the first postal authorities in the world to add unique barcodes to stamps.
"By doing this, we are looking to transform the humble stamp so that we can offer our customers even more convenient, new services in the future.
When will my 1st and 2nd class stamps expire?
From January 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.
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They will be replaced by similar stamps with a barcode attached next to them.
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 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.
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And if you have more than £2,500 worth of stamps to swap, you need to contact the Royal Mail’s offices in Edinburgh.
The "Swap Out" scheme launched in March this year and you can continue to trade in the old stamps well after they become invalid as it runs until March 31 2023.
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