Non-denominated postage is postage intended to meet a certain postage rate that retains full validity for that intended postage rate even after the rate is increased. It does not show a monetary value, or denomination, on the face. In many English speaking countries, it is called non-value indicator (NVI) postage. Invented to reduce the cost of printing large issues of low-value stamps to "top-up" old issues, NVI stamps are widely used, including in the United States and many European countries.
The Universal Postal Union approved the use of non-denominated stamps on international mail in 1995.
Non-denominated postage was first introduced in the United Kingdom in 1989 for domestic mail, in part as a workaround to the problem of fast-changing rates.
The British Post Office has issued "non-value indicated" Machins using textual inscriptions "1ST" and "2ND" to indicate class of service rather than a numeric value. It has since introduced a number of variations including those for worldwide and European use, for different weights, and for postcards.
In past years, non-denominated postage issued by the United States differed from the issues of other countries, in that the stamps retained their original monetary value. Some stamps, such as those intended for local or bulk mail rate, were issued without denomination.
This practice began in 1975, when there was uncertainty as to the timing and extent of a rate increase from ten cents for the first ounce of first class postage as the end of the year approached. Christmas stamps were released without denomination, giving the United States Postal Service flexibility to refrain from reprinting hundreds of millions of stamps in a new denomination. The rate increase, to thirteen cents (US$0.13), occurred just after Christmas.
The United States also issued stamps with letter denomination, beginning from A, B, etc., during postal rate changes. After reaching the letter "H", this practice was discarded in favor of simply indicating the class of postage (e.g., first class) for which the stamp was intended.
On March 26, 2007, the US Postal service unveiled the first such stamp, which went on sale April 12, 2007, for 41 cents (US$0.41), the so-called "Liberty Bell" stamp, which is marked "USA FIRST-CLASS FOREVER". On October 21, 2010, the second Forever Stamp, featuring pinecones on evergreen trees, was issued for the Christmas season. Coils of Forever stamps were first issued on December 1, 2010 in the se-tenant format with Lady Liberty and the Flag design. The latest re-design, announced June 16th, 2011, features four American scientists: Melvin Calvin, chemist; Asa Gray, botanist; Maria Goeppert Mayer, physicist; and Severo Ochoa, biochemist. These stamps are always sold at the current first-class postage rate. They are always valid for the full first-class postage regardless of any rate increases since the stamps' purchase (unused "forever" stamps purchased in April 2007 therefore are valid for the full 44 cent first-class postage rate, despite having been purchased for 41 cents).
Some fundraising (or semipostal) stamps have had this feature for years. For example, the breast cancer research stamp was issued in 1998. Currently it is worth US$0.44.
The United States Post Office announced on December 16, 2010, that beginning with the Lunar New Year, Year of the Rabbit, stamp to be issued January 22, 2011; thereafter, all first-class mail 1-ounce rate stamps will be issued as forever stamps.
Customers can use Forever Stamps for international mail, but since all international prices are higher than domestic prices, customers will need to attach additional postage. The value of the Forever Stamp is the domestic First-Class Mail letter price in effect on the day of use.
Canada's NVI is called the "Permanent" stamp, which is a trademarked term. It was originally marked by a white capital "P" overlaid on a red maple leaf, which is itself within a white circle. Later releases, such as the 2009 Silver Dart commemorative, varied the colours. In that example, the Maple Leaf around the "P" is white and the "P" is dropped out. The circle does not appear.
In announcing its decision to adopt non-denominated postage in 2006, Canada Post noted that it had to print more than 60 million one-cent stamps following the last price increase in 2005. The Canadian and American NVI programs are essentially equivalent, as both cover regular domestic first-class mail. One Canada Post NVI stamp covers the cost of mailing a standard letter up to 30 g within Canada, while the United States Postal Service's NVI stamp covers mailing up to 1 oz (28 g) within the United States.
New Zealand Post started issuing the Kiwistamp in 2009. One stamp will always be worth the required postage of a Standard Post medium domestic letter. Customers may use multiple Kiwistamps or mix them with denominated stamps to make up the required postage for bigger domestic or international mail.
Singapore has two NVIs today: 1st Local and 2nd Local. The first Singapore NVIs were issued in 1995; almost every issue had a "For Local Addresses Only" stamp. Later, in 2004, a new NVI denomination was released: "2nd Local". Since then almost all issues have "1st Local" stamps, and some have "2nd Local" stamps, rather than the previous "For Local Addresses Only". 1st Local stamps are valid for standard letters within Singapore up to 20 g, and 2nd Local stamps are valid for standard letters within Singapore up to 40 g.
The Åland islands currently issue three NVI denominations: Inrikes (domestic), Europa (Europe) and Världen (the world).
Finland's first NVI stamp (ikimerkki) was issued on 2.3.1992. There are two denominations, one valid for domestic 1st class, or overnight, domestic letter of up to 50 g and the other for similar 2nd class letter. The stamps may be combined for more expensive tariffs.
Sweden currently issues three forms of NVI valid for letters within Sweden of up to 20 g. These stamps may be combined when weight of letter exceeds 20 g. For up to 100 g - use two stamps, for up to 250 g - use 4 stamps, 500 g - 6 stamps, 1 kg - 8 stamps, 2 kg - 12 stamps. These charges only apply to regular letters - surcharges apply to bulkier letters.
- Brev: first class overnight delivery within Sweden. Brev ('letter') or Brev Inrikes ('letter domestic') is printed on the stamps. Price as of January 2009 - 6 SEK;
- Ekonomibrev: second class (up to three days for delivery) within Sweden. Price as of January 2009 - 5.50 SEK. Note: Economy Mail should be marked with a B to the left of the stamp;
- Föreningsbrev: rate for not-for-profit organizations. Price as of January 2009 - 5.00 SEK. Not-for-profit organizations are allowed to mail letters up to 100 g in weight using 1 Föreningsbrev stamp and up to 250 g using 2 stamps. Letters in excess 250 g are subject to regular postage charges.
Regular first class stamps can also be used to mail letters abroad, providing that their combined value corresponds to the appropriate tariff by Swedish Post. For instance, to mail a letter up to 20 g in weight, two Brev stamps are required.
- ^ Lee, Christopher (2006-05-04). "Proposed stamp would resist postal rate hikes". The News Journal (The Washington Post): pp. A1, A12.
- ^ Post Office Unveils 'Forever' Stamp from Associated Press. Retrieved on 2007-03-26.
- ^ USPS (December 16, 2010). "Forever Stamp Program Expands To Give Customers Convenience and More Choices". postal bulletin 22300 (12-16-10). U.S. Postal Service. http://www.usps.com/cpim/ftp/bulletin/2010/pb22300/pdf/info.pdf. Retrieved December 19, 2010.
- ^ Canada Post news release, 19 September 2006. Retrieved 2010-11-04
- ^ http://www.nzpost.co.nz/home/sending-within-nz/letters-documents/kiwistamp-postage-stamp
- ^ Posten.se, price list for stamped domestic mail (Swedish)
- Discussion of UK version.
- United States Postal Service guide to non-denominated postage stamps
- Non-denominated US stamps: Pictures and rates
- ForeverStamps.com Blog covering the Forever Stamp
- Slate.com, Nathaniel Rich: "Should I invest in 'Forever' Stamps?" Slate, May 17, 2007: Criticism of Forever Stamps as an investment
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