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What is a Forever Stamp?

Lady liberty and U.S. flag forever stamps.
Liberty Bell forever stamp.
Forever Stamps can be used to mail a letter regardless of the current rate of first class postage.
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A forever stamp is a postage stamp in the United States that is valid for First-Class postage no matter when it is used. By concept, once purchased, a forever stamp is a perpetual stamp that never expires or declines in value. Its value is the First-Class Mail stamp postage rate for a one ounce letter at the time of use.

The U.S. Postal Service submitted a proposal in May 2006 to the U.S. Postal Rate Commission to create a forever stamp beginning in 2007. The proposal was approved and forever stamps went on sale in April of 2007. Forever stamps are sold at the First-Class Mail Stamp postage rate in effect at the time they are purchased. They can be used for postage within the United States and for mail sent from the United States to an international destination, although that would require additional postage.

The advantages of a forever stamp to the consumer include the ability to stock up on first class postage at the current rate and use them until the supply is exhausted. As postage rates change, it is no longer necessary to buy two or three cent stamps to add to the old postage stamp. For most consumers, the greatest advantage of a forever stamp is convenience.

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An advantage to the postal service of a forever stamp is cash flow. The postal service obtains cash in the present for stamps that won’t be used until the future. Also, the postal service would not need to use employees to sell the obsolete two-cent stamps or to handle the rush of consumers seeking new higher-rate stamps.

The likelihood of people hoarding stamps was not expected to be a big problem prior to approval. Most consumers don’t want the hassle of keeping track of a large quantity of stamps. Business mail was not likely to be overly affected, either, since most businesses use metered or preprinted postage rather than stamps.

Many countries, including Finland, Israel, Belgium, Brazil, and Great Britain, use non-denominated stamps, although the way they are used varies from country to country. Some countries refer to these as “stamps for standardized mail.” The United Kingdom first began using these types of stamps, which they call non-value indicators (NVIs), in 1989 to alleviate problems when postal rates change.

Although the U.S. has used non-denominated stamps in its history, they were not the same as a forever stamp. The U.S. Postal Service used lettered stamps as contingency stamps several times when postage rates increased.

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Discuss this Article

anon956868
Post 68

Anyone know why the 'Flags of our Nation' roll of stamps are no longer available. The choices currently available are so boring now. What happened?

anon323344
Post 66

@anon193732: You'll probably never read this post, but -- what? You want to use US stamps to send letters to the USA from Israel? Israel is another country, so you'll need Israeli stamps.

anon303711
Post 65

I'm trying to send a letter to my boyfriend from the UK, and I have a stamp that says 2011 Forever. Can I still send it with that?

anon244812
Post 64

What is the use of the big stamp with bar code in the 20 stamps booklet? Can you use it?

anon242814
Post 63

I'm wondering. I have a roll of flag and liberty stamps with usa 1st class and forever on them, but they are from 2011. Do I need a once-cent stamp also to get my mail through?

anon193732
Post 61

I'm traveling to Israel and I want to bring stamps to send postcards back to the US. I have US stamps and I'm not sure if they will work in Israel to send letters back home or if I need to find new stamps once I arrive in Israel

jbolhuis
Post 60

Wow! After reading the comments on this subject I have to leave a post...

@anon106653: A forever stamp holds it's value forever; that is why it is called a forever stamp. If it only held the value of the year it was made it would be a first class stamp. You do not add any other stamps to it when mailing a letter 1 ounce or below. The forever stamps you purchased in 2010 would not need four more added to it in the year 2020 if the value of stamps reached $2. The value of the forever stamp will be whatever the value of stamps are on the day of use. The price you purchase it for is not needed; that is why it is not printed on it as is the case with other stamps. It is clearly marked with the word "forever".

Your explanation is incorrect and absurd. I am a postmaster in Virginia, so you can take my explanation as being true. You can also look up "Forever Stamp Fact Sheet."

anon175434
Post 58

@53 (re " the big stamp with the barcode on it"): Sorry, you may not (If you count an unused book or strip, you'll find that if you include the big one your total will be off by (plus) one.

However, don't feel like it's a dumb question because not a single night goes by that I don't have stamp "returned for postage" on several letters due to the senders having made the very same mistake.

anon175408
Post 57

@54 et al: Unless there has been a change (doubtful, since it would require the U.S. Postal Service to reach an accord with each and every foreign nation's postal system) non-denominated U.S. stamps are not honored outside the U.S.P.S. service area.

While I wouldn't be entirely surprised to learn that some sort of reciprocal agreement had been reached with Canada and/or Mexico agreeing to recognize non-denominated postage.

The chances of any other country accepting them? Slim and none.

anon174437
Post 56

Forever stamps are the best! once you buy a forever stamp, it works forever, no matter what!

anon157363
Post 55

@Post 37: That flag "USA first-class" stamp is not a forever stamp. I have those and they are worth 41 cents. Only stamps that actually say "Forever" are forever stamps and their value = the current value of a 1 oz letter stamp (right now it's 44 cents). If the postage goes up, the value of "Forever" stamps goes up too!

anon145807
Post 54

ok so if i want to mail a letter to venezuela can i use one of them? or like do i have to use more?

anon143919
Post 53

so seriously. can you use the big stamp with the barcode on it? i don't want to be a jerk and use them when its wrong, but i don't want to be an idiot either when they are able to be used. anyone?

anon140794
Post 52

Lots of mis-information in these posts.

If you have questions about postage rates, visit the USPS website (since you are on the net anyway.) The Postage Rate Calculator is very good. Just search for USPS Rate Calculator.

As for the Forever stamps (the ones that actually say "forever" on them), they will always be worth the postage rate of the current 1 oz. First Class single-piece letter. You can use one for a letter that is 1.0 oz. or less.

If you have a heavier letter, a large envelope, or package - the forever stamps are all worth the current 1 oz. letter rate, regardless of when you bought them, or how much you paid for each.

For example, if the rate goes up to 75-cents for the first oz, each forever stamp will be worth 75-cents - on any mail piece sent through US Mail, including First Class, Priority, Parcel Post, Express Mail, foreign mail, etc.

anon139836
Post 51

Forever stamps looks like a sure bet investment. I mean you can buy stamps today, and sell them over rate hikes competing with the USPS itself. This is actually a dumb move for USPS, because they can actually lose money. This is a good for the amateur investor, and pro investor with don't want put out a lot of risk.

The only thing that could make the value of these things go down if the USPS disappears, but that won't happen with a government bailout. No brainer investment for people, even for the average joe.

You can hoard stamps for years, then sell them in a discount against the USPS pricing, and still make a profit. If you are up to it, try it.

anon137909
Post 50

the forever stamp does not even say "first class" on it, even though it can only be used for that. It looks just like a kid's sticker! Crazy!

anon135894
Post 49

i used the big stamp from the cover of the booklet and it worked fine. Sailed right through the postal system. Anyone else ever try this??

anon106653
Post 48

@anon39270, the stamps only hold the value that you originally purchased them for. i.e. The current price for a forever stamp is .44 cents (2010) so 20 years from now the value of that same stamp will still be .44 cents, even if the price for one ounce is $2 then. So, you would need five forever stamps from this year for 1 ounce in 20 years.

anon93953
Post 47

When postal rates go up, more people will conduct business on-line. We are already paying for that service and that would be paying twice.

anon84158
Post 45

this whole forever stamp is clever. my teacher makes her class every year write a letter to themselves and she puts the student's address on the destination address and a friend or family member who would still live there on the return address. she mails them to you in five years, so a forever stamp is pretty useful. just in case people wanted an example of a forever stamp being used.

anon73579
Post 44

What is the use of the big stamp with bar code in the 20 stamps booklet? Can you use it?

anon62174
Post 42

Can you use the the big stamp with the code bar on it?

anon57340
Post 41

I have a book of stamps that have a picture of uncle sam's hat that say "USA H first class rate" with no monetary denomination. Is it considered a forever stamp?

anon42706
Post 40

Very informative. I wanted to mail a birthday card which was more than 3.5 oz so I had to use two forever stamps. Thanks everyone for the review.

medulla
Post 39

anon40592, 3 stamps it is. :)

anon40592
Post 38

I have a 3 ounce large envelope to mail out and only have forever stamps. The USPS says I need $1.22 for the envelope, so can I use the forever stamp as $.44, meaning 3 stamps is equal to $1.32? Please help.

anon39270
Post 37

I had to mail an important letter. Digging through my drawer to find a stamp, I found one last "Flag" Forever stamp, used it, and mailed my letter. About a week letter, I got the letter back with three cents postage due. It took two more days until I could get to the post office to buy a three-cent stamp. (I was so annoyed I paid with a $20 bill). So much for "Forever."

medulla
Post 36

Okay, I may sound stupid here, but really I need to know this! Pls reply!:

I've just arrived in the US and I have no idea how to deal with the postage stamps and all. I'd like to know whether I can use these Forever stamps for letters to Canada? How many stamps do I have to put on my letter? (my letter is probably about 3-4 pages)

anon26297
Post 35

The forever stamps will never go away.

Economically it's in USPO interest to have this from now on.

For me the forever stamp has always been with the bell...and never anything else. (I could be wrong, but I've had most of mine since they first came out).

anon26296
Post 34

Its not gotcha, when you can buy a lot of 'forever' stamps now and not need to buy any through atleast several more price increases.

I still have forever stamps bought when they first came out.

anon26293
Post 32

some of you were talking about going to a local USPO for the forever stamps.

I bought my last batch of stamps online via uspo.

But I see other area business's that sell stamps for USPO too...

anon26292
Post 31

The comment that consumers don't want to track their stamps stack is stupid.

What is there to keep track of?

I have over 300+ forever stamps and use about 2-3 a month max.. per being 100% online.

Per this I have a little tray underneath where I keep mailing labels which is, in fact, kept in an empty dvd holder. Hardly a tracking problem.

As it is I rarely use stamps so these are actually stamps for my whole local family, but even they ahve in recent years gone online (Ive been online for 10-15 years orso).

They will like be 50cents plus by the time I need more. Maybe I should stock up and have a 1000 or so on hand?

anon22948
Post 30

If it doesn't say "forever" it isn't.

wantthe411
Post 29

You can go to the USPS website to have all of your questions answered as well as see a picture of the Liberty Bell Forever Stamp. While there, you can also purchase them and have them mailed to you.

I was around when mailing a letter cost 4 cents yet I truly believe that even at 42 cents, it's a bargain. I do wonder, instead of these frequent inconvenient 1 cent hikes, why not raise it to 45 cents, invest the overage (perhaps not the stock market right now) and cover future increases with the yields, thus no more customer increases for a couple years at least...

anon18122
Post 28

always buy a "Forever" stamp which says the word Forever on there. There is a big bell. These stamps really work especially for someone like me who can't remember the postage rates because they change so often & I hardly use stamps. Forever stamps are a great idea!

anon17923
Post 27

Add me to those who were sold the 41 cent "Flag " stamps when I asked for forever stamps at the post office. I think the post office has not trained its workers adequately and may have supply problems from time to time. I understand that forever stamps are still being sold for 42 cents but a recent attempt to buy some at my local post office produced only confusion and no stamps.

anon16911
Post 26

I hate battling over one penny but just did. I, too, bought a roll of the flag stamps under the impression they would be "forever." Now I'm buying penny stamps plus apologizing to businesses who paid the penny on their end just to receive my check. What a deal!

anon16820
Post 25

I fell for the bogus "forever stamp" too. Just got a supposedly "forever" stamped envelope back w/ postage due. This is the biggest scam the USPS has ever perpetrated.

anon15456
Post 24

Forever stamps are first of a new "gotcha" series of stamps.

anon14159
Post 23

I also bought a roll of "flag" stamps and was told these would not require the 1c or 2c stamps if the rate changed. Today, I found out differently when I received a letter back /c 1c due. There is no price on these stamps. Anyway, it just gives me another reason for paying bills on line.

anon13194
Post 22

I bought a roll of 41 cent Flag stamps recently and was assured by the postal clerk that they would be good for first class postage regardless of rate changes. I guess too many postal clerks are like their IRS buddies as reliable informants.

origami
Post 21

@anon1076

the only disadvantage i can think of with respect to forever stamps is that the value of the stamp itself is not printed on the stamp. in other words, you have to know how much it is worth.

for first-class letters, this isn't too big of a deal, but if you are adding a bunch of stamps to a package, it might be a little annoying adding up stamps with values printed on them, and forever stamps.

needless to say, the advantages far outweigh this disadvantage. i cannot think of a reason not to get forever stamps in lieu of regular stamps.

origami
Post 20

@anon8985

i haven't heard anything about them ceasing the forever stamp program, its just that the cost of a forever stamps increase from time to time. the first forever stamp was on sale for 41 cents, and those stamps will continue to be sufficient for first-class mailing forever.

recently, the rate increased to 42 cents, so any forever stamps you buy will cost that much, but they will work even after the next increase.

origami
Post 19

@anon1238

forever stamps are just first class stamps, so the envelope weight IS relevant. according to the us postal service, the standard first class letter rate is for envelopes up to 1 ounce.

you can mail first class letters up to 3.5 oz. but the rates for such letters is more than the standard rate, so you will need more postage than just a forever stamp.

anon12698
Post 18

A forever stamp has the Liberty Bell on it and on the side is printed 1st class postage. Personally, I always buy forever stamps. I hate those 1 cent increases that would force me another trip to town!

anon12399
Post 17

Who would ever buy a non-forever stamp, if a forever stamp is available at the same price? Wouldn't it be like buying a carton of milk expiring tomorrow rather than a carton good for two more weeks?

anon12285
Post 15

We actually have these in the UK! For a while now you can buy first class and second class stamps which now just say 1st and 2nd on. These stamps are always sold at the current rate for a first and second class stamp but will always be valid.

Last month the price of stamps went up and yes certainly a few people go out and buy an extra book of stamps before the price goes up but few people horde them. I guess even if they do then the post office has still sold them a load of stamps!

anon8985
Post 14

I'd like to know how long they'll be sold for; I remember hearing on the news that they'd stop selling them after a time, did I mishear?

malena
Post 13

Hey Marsupalamy. That's weird. One first class mail stamp covers one ounce worth. And, I always thought that that covers up to 10 sheets. As a matter of fact, I just sent something out that contained 9 pages and it hasn't been sent back. You might want to check with your post office!

marsupalamy
Post 12

you want to know what irks me? well, I'll tell ya then. I can send a 3 page letter with the forever stamp and it goes through but, if I send a 4 page letter, it comes back to me stating "needs (like) 56 more cents" why? how can that one extra page have to cost so much more?

anon1298
Post 11

I think "Forever" is referring to how long before I use up the half-book of .37 and whole-book of .39 stamps I still have.

anon1286
Post 10

How much does a forever stamp cost?

anon1238
Post 9

I'd like to know also, regardless of what envelope weights the postage will just be "41" cents?

anon1165
Post 8

Can you buy forever stamps two years from now, a week before the next rate increase? I can see, obviously, the benefit to buying a stamp for 42c when it will soon (in a week or two) be worth 45c.

As for buying stamps for discount, this is very true. You can buy hoards of post WWII stamps for usually 10% below face value. Stamps are the worst investment. I remember a few years back spending $30 and getting $35 worth of 2-8c stamps. It was a pain in butt, though, putting on 10 stamps and filling up the entire envelope with stamps. people thought i was crazy using 60 year old stamps, but in reality, i was crazy to lick that old 60 year gum on the stamp

anon1076
Post 7

what are the disadvantages?

anon1068
Post 6

How long will the Forever Stamps be sold?

anon1066
Post 5

Discounted stamps.

Single-piece retail customers generally do not have access to "discounted" stamps (before the forever stamp.) The only ways that I know to get a discount would be:

1. buy hot or counterfeit or washed stamps (completely illegal, could lead to federal prosecution.)

2. buy postage with a credit card with rebate feature. I have Visa and M/C with 1% rebates, and Discover starts at 1/4% increasing to 1% based on annual volume. Not huge, but a discount.

anon961
Post 3

You can still get stamps for 10% off though.

Moderator's reply: Really? I didn't know that! Can you tell us where you get discounted stamps?

anon750
Post 2

Hi - I just have one question - how do you pay for the additional ounces on first class mail? I believe it is for 17 cents for each ounce. Would love to know. thanks

anon194
Post 1

where's a picture of the forever stamp?

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