Now you can’t even exchange your stamps at the Post Office as Royal Mail cites ‘security considerations’

Royal Mail has warned customers that they cannot exchange their old-style stamps at a post office for security reasons.

From 31 January 2023, stamps without a barcode will no longer be valid and can only be exchanged if sent to Royal Mail.

Last week we reported that customers should either use up their old stamps before the deadline or exchange them using Royal Mail’s Stamp Swap Out programme.

Withdrawn: From 31 January 2023 stamps without a barcode will no longer be valid and can only be exchanged if sent to Royal Mail.

One reader says he was surprised to find that his local post office could not exchange their stamps.

Although leaflets were distributed to every household in Britain earlier this year to highlight the changes, the news may come as a surprise to many.

Tory MP Kevin Hollinrake told the Mail on Sunday at the weekend he was unaware of the new rules.

Royal Mail this year began issuing new barcode stamps that allow customers to track letters and parcels through its app.

Royal Mail says this is an extra security feature that makes them harder to counterfeit.

But people shouldn’t try to exchange their old stamps at post offices because staff don’t have the equipment to check them.

Royal Mail says it carries out a series of rigorous security checks to ensure the stamps are legitimate and not in use. But it says that post offices are not built for that.

Stamps are considered protected printed matter in the same way as banknotes, which means that it is a crime to knowingly reuse or sell used or counterfeit stamps. Proven security features include die-cuts, ‘Royal Mail’ printed with special ink on the surface and wide oval perforations near the base.

A spokesman for the firm says: “We also have phosphor bands printed on the stamp and these are difficult to counterfeit. Post offices do not have the necessary phosphor reading machines.’

Ahead of the old stamps’ expiration date, the post office says it expects customers to come into the office thinking they can just exchange their old stamps for new ones over the counter. But instead they need to be sent to Royal Mail, who will send replacements in return.

Royal Mail says it aims to process exchange requests within seven working days. A spokesperson says: “It should be noted that this is a target and not a guarantee.”

It advises customers to place their stamps via special delivery to avoid problems, and says it will refund the equivalent of barcoded stamps.

To exchange your stamps, complete the form at and send it along with your stamps to Royal Mail. Make sure you write Freepost Swap Out on the envelope.

Christmas and other commemorative stamps will be valid after January 31.