Old stamps and discontinued money: what should you do?

How to exchange your stamps before they're invaild - www.silvermagazine.co.uk
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Have you got old stamps or bank notes that you need to deal with? Time is running out

Paper £20 and £50 notes are no longer legal tender. And the stamps in your desk drawer will be useless soon too. Here’s what you can do with your old stamps or money to ensure you don’t lose their value.

Cash money

Let’s talk about money first. The paper £20 and £50 notes are pretty much done for. These were withdrawn from circulation at the end of September 2022.

Have you got any still kicking around though? All is not lost, although you don’t have forever to act on this. The Bank of England website has advice about what to do with old notes. 

British £50 notes (Image: Adobe Stock)

You can swap them at some Post Office counters, or at your bank, or at the Bank of England itself, or even by post. For more information about this, have a look at the Bank of England site.

Scottish paper banknotes have also been taken out of circulation. Much like the Bank of England, you can swap these paper notes at your Bank of Scotland branch. 

But it’s not only folding that’s had a makeover. Stamps have also had a shakeup, and not just because of our change in monarch.

Are you hoarding a load of old stamps?

Image of Royal Mail's new barcoded stampsRoyal Mail first- and second-class stamps are also receiving a makeover. Originally you had until the end of January 2023 to use the old ones, but the Post Office have extended this now until 31 July 2023.

The new stamps will feature a barcode alongside Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s profile. At least until Charles pops his head on there – after which we are not sure what happens. But if you’ve got stamps without barcodes, you might need to act to get them used up before they stop being operational. 

The new stamps are getting a barcode to enable digital services. These barcodes will be scannable by the Royal Mail app, which will connect to a ‘digital twin’ stamp. The idea is that eventually customers will be able to access information and even send messages through the barcoded stamp. A barcode also makes the stamps harder to counterfeit.

The non-barcoded stamps that are still largely in circulation will become invalid after 31 July 2023. If you use the wrong stamp after this, you or the recipient could be charged for insufficient postage. But don’t panic – you can swap them. See below.

Make sure you don't miss swapping your old stamps as new ones are issued - www.silvermagazine.co.uk

Special picture stamps aren’t being updated with barcodes yet. These are stamps that have been printed to commemorate a person or place. They will remain valid until Royal Mail provide more information. Despite new Christmas stamps with barcodes being released, Christmas stamps from previous years will also remain valid. 

So, now’s probably the time to collect up any random stamps you’ve got kicking around in wallets or drawers. 

Can you change your stamps?

The non-barcoded stamps can still be used until the end of January. So, prioritise using them on Christmas cards you send out to family and friends this year. 

Special picture stamps aren’t being updated with barcodes yet

If you don’t think you’ll use them before the deadline, or would rather be on the safe side and get the barcoded ones in preparation, Royal Mail have a Swap Out Scheme. You can use this scheme to exchange your non-barcoded stamps for the new ones.

You’ll need to print and fill out a PDF form, and send it off to Royal Mail along with your non-barcoded stamps. 

Royal Mail has said they’ll aim to process applications within seven working days. However, there isn’t a guarantee that you’ll get your new stamps within this time frame.

Unfortunately, stamps cannot be swapped at Post Offices. Royal Mail have said this is for security purposes, as Post Office branches are not equipped to verify whether stamps are legitimate and unused.

There is no end date for stamps to be swapped out, so if you think you might use them before February, but the time comes and you actually haven’t, there’s no need to panic. You’ll still be able to use the Swap Out scheme. 

Visit the Royal Mail website to access the Swap Out forms, along with more information.

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About Lana Hall
Lana can usually be found spinning her collection of records, or writing odd poems in her phone notes. Her mixer of choice is a ginger beer, and you’ll never find her away from the sea for more than a few weeks.

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