Nick Park's cartoon creation helps launch barcode change to iconic Royal Mail stamps, as non-barcode versions are due to be phased out

A cute cartoon character created by Lancashire’s Nick Park is helping make people aware of changes to the iconic stamps used by the Royal Mail.

By Phil Cunnington
Tuesday, 1st February 2022, 3:45 pm

A cute cartoon character created by Lancashire’s Nick Park is helping make people aware of changes to the iconic stamps used by the Royal Mail.

The Royal Mail’s ‘Definitive’ stamps – the regular everyday stamps which feature the profile of HM the Queen – will have the addition of unique barcodes following a successful trial. Existing, non-barcoded stamps are to be phased out by the eginning of next year.

Bosses say the move is part of an ongoing modernisation drive, and will allow the unique barcodes to facilitate operational efficiencies, enable the introduction of added security features and pave the way for innovative services for customers.

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ne of the new barcoded ‘Definitive’ stamps issued by Royal Mail. The barcodes on the ‘Definitive’ stamps, which feature the Queen’s head in profile, will carry things like videos and added security features. THey will be launched nationwide with a video featuring Lancashire-born Nick Park’s creation Shaun the Sheep. Non-barcoded definitive stamps are to be phased out by January 2023

Nick Landon, Royal Mail chief commercial officer said: “Introducing unique barcodes on our postage stamps allows us to connect the physical letter with the digital world and opens up the possibilities for a range of new innovative services in future.”

Recipients of mail featuring a barcoded stamp can watch an exclusive video by scanning the stamps in the Royal Mail App. The exclusive video features Preston-born Nick’s creation Shaun the Sheep, animated by the multi-award-winning British animation studio, Aardman. The video is the first in a series of planned videos to be released during 2022 that will allow customers sending stamped mail to choose which video the recipient can see when they receive an item of mail.

The new barcoded stamps will have a digital twin and the two will be connected by the Royal Mail App. The barcodes match the stamp colour and sit alongside the main body of the stamp, separated by a simulated perforation line.

The Definitive stamps were created by the sculptor Arnold Machin, and the design has changed very little since it was introduced in June 1967.

Nick Park at the unveiling of the Wallace and Gromit bench at Preston Market last year. Shaun the Sheep first appeared in the Wallace and Gromit adventure A Close Shave

Non-barcoded Definitive and Christmas stamps will remain valid until January 31, 2023. Royal Mail says customers will be encouraged to use non-barcoded stamps before this date, or exchange them for the new barcoded version through Royal Mail’s ‘Swap Out’ scheme.

The ‘Swap Out’ scheme will open on March 31, 2022. Customers will be able send unused stamps via a Freepost address. Forms will be available via a variety of channels, including local Customer Service Points; the Royal Mail website and via our Customer Experience team.