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Information about Royal Mail Machin Exchange


To All Philatelists from Richard Camp, Telford

There seems to be a bit of confusion in some philatelic quarters about the RM “Swap-out” (or should it be “exchange scheme”?) for non-data-coded Machin stamps.  (They are not barcoded – no bars and they do not look like barcodes as seen elsewhere!)

There are some points which people need to appreciate.

Firstly.  The non-data coded stamps DO NOT HAVE TO BE “SWAPPED-IN” BY THE END OF JULY!  They only should not be used after that date.

There is no set date for the end of the Swap-out Scheme and RM informs me that currently there are no plans to end the scheme.   Therefore, collectors of Machins and other stamps affected (see the second point) need not decide now whether to keep their collection or swap it in before it becomes impossible to swap the stamps for usable stamps if it cannot be sold as a collection when they no longer want it.

Note that RM might decide to end the “Swap-out” scheme in the future (see the third point) so collectors retaining affected collections should “keep their ear to the ground”.  Hopefully, if an end date is set, it will be well publicised.

Secondly.  The RM website is not absolutely clear on what needs to be “swapped in”.  It begins by stating, “Regular stamps (?) without a barcode will no longer be valid .....” and it pictures Machins.  It then goes through lots of info. on how to exchange stamps and it shows examples of what should be swapped – 4 x Machins, and examples of what need not be swapped – commems and Christmas.  To find out more one has to scroll down quite some way and click on questions and open a PDF file and one can find details of further stamps which need to be swapped.  All very difficult to follow!  So here is a list as far as I can work it out.

The list of stamps which will no longer be accepted on mail is:  Machins of all types from 1p to £5, including those with 1st, 2nd (will be swapped for current values) or with E on them, stamps marked for large letters, on them, the double-headed issues, Regionals, Country stamps, the £10 Britannia stamp, decimal Castles, the small Olympic worldwide stamp, Machins with special use such as International tariffs, worldwide including postcards, special and recorded signed for and similar.  Note that some of these stamps are found (or also found) in booklets and miniature sheets

Note that all KC3 definitives are coded so do not need to be swapped and all Christmas issues have been removed from the need to be swapped.

It is not clear what is happening with stamps having a ½p in their value.  Hopefully the ½p’s can be added together and swapped! 

There are other stamps which RM has not mentioned as needing to be swapped.  These  include small sized stamps with various designs such as flags, heraldic symbols, messages, views, patterns, etc., repeats of the first QE2 definitives (Wildings) but with decimal values on them, repeats of Queen Victoria stamps (on anniversaries of the stamps) and various other miscellaneous designs.  Some of these come from stamp booklets, some from miniature sheets, some from Smiler and similar sheets and some from exhibition sheets!!  It is suggested these should be swapped if not needed but can be kept and swapped later.  A few might be worth a bit so best to keep.

Remember that you do not have to swap stamps being invalidated that you have in your collection – just not use them and hopefully swap them when you give up colleting if you cannot sell them for a reasonable sum.

Thirdly.  RM should be made to understand that there are very many collections of Machins and other affected stamps, both in the UK and around the world.  If these collections are to remain intact, RM MUST clearly state that the “Swap in” scheme will be never ending so such collectors will not feel forced to swap in their collections to avoid being landed with them if they become worthless as a collection.

It is suggested that all collectors of Machins and other stamps affected should write to RM and ask (or demand) that the “Swap-in” scheme be extended indefinitely.   RM may only do this if they realise that they will upset many possible customers if they do not.

The address is:  Mr. Nick Read, CEO of Royal Mail, RM Headquarters, 185 Farringdon Road, London, EC1A 1AA

Finally.  It is my personal opinion that when one buys a stamp from RM one enters into an unwritten contract with RM.  One buys a stamp which can be used as payment for posting an envelope or package and RM agrees to accept it as payment for the delivery of the said envelope or package.  If RM declares some stamps as invalid and declines to accept them, they have broken that contract.  And that the “swap-in” scheme does not change the broken contract as it has not been agreed by both parties.

Is anyone reading this message legally qualified to express a legal opinion on the above point or know of anyone who would be willing to express such a legal opinion?  If so, would you or they do so without charge and let me know?

My contact details are as follows.  Do feel free to contact me (preferably by email) to let me know your views on this subject or the result of any correspondence with RM or anyone else on the subject.  You may pass on my contact details for this purpose.

Please pass  on this message to any collectors you know who do not use email and would not otherwise receive it.

Richard Camp.

01952-405458       Email:

Chairman and Vice-President, Telford stamp and Card Club.

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