When do first and second class stamps become unusable?

Christmas stamps have barcodes on them for the first time this year (Image: Royal Mail)

Yep, it happens. First and second class stamps as we know them, they are officially changing.

In an effort to go digital, Christmas and Definitive (the regular) stamps now come with a unique barcode.

They link the stamp to the Royal Mail app, with the aim of making it easier to track everyday mail.

For new stamps to be valid, they must appear on the envelope with the barcode attached. This means that all existing stamps that are not barcoded must be used up before the exchange takes place.

So when will that be, exactly?

When must I use my old stamps by?

Initially, Royal Mail gave the public until 31 January 2023 to use up any old stamps.

First-class stamp with barcode

The new stamps will have a bar code next to them, which will also be on the envelope (Image: PA)

However, the deadline was then extended by six months, empty 31 Julywhen Royal Mail realized that people needed more time to use up non-barcode stamps.

Customers also have the chance to exchange old stamps before the exchange.

In March, Royal Mail launched a ‘Swap Out’ scheme, which is available on their website.

There is also an option to send them at post offices with customer service points, or even via Freepost.

Christmas is a great chance to use up old stamps, by posting cards and gifts to loved ones.

Be quick with postings though, as Royal Mail strike dates affect the last post dates over Christmas.

This year’s Christmas stamps will also be the last to feature Queen Elizabeth II’s silhouette, as Royal Mail switches to an image of the new monarch, King Charles III.

Royal Mail announced the move to barcode stamps earlier this year, saying on its website: “Following a successful national trial, we will now add unique barcodes to all our standard ‘everyday’ Definitive and Christmas stamps.

“Each barcoded stamp will have a digital twin and the two will be linked with the Royal Mail app. The unique barcodes will simplify operational efficiency, enable the introduction of additional security functions and pave the way for innovative services for our customers.’

MORE : How much are first and second class stamps this Christmas?

MORE: Last post dates for Christmas 2022: Royal Mail, Amazon, John Lewis reveal when to buy

MORE: Royal Mail staff go on strike with people warned about posting Christmas cards a week early

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