Royal Mail is adding special coding to stamps, making it possible for people to watch videos, messages and other information.
The move from Tuesday follows a successful trial, with the aim of connecting a letter with the digital world.
Customers can scan the coding – which takes the form of a rectangular 2D barcode – in the Royal Mail app and will eventually be able to watch videos, information about services, or birthday messages and other greetings from senders.
At the moment, a video featuring Shaun the Sheep, created exclusively for Royal Mail by the animation studio Aardman, can be viewed.
It is the first in a series of planned videos to be released during 2022 that will allow customers sending stamped mail to choose which one the recipient can see when they receive an item of mail.
The coded stamps will have a “digital twin” and the two will be connected by the Royal Mail app.
The codes match the stamp colour and sit alongside the main body of the stamp, separated by a simulated perforation line.
The coding will be available on “definitive” stamps – the regular everyday stamps featuring the profile of the Queen. Non-coded definitive and Christmas stamps will remain valid until January 2023.
Nick Landon, the 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.”
• This article was amended on 21 February 2022 to restore the article’s original description of the new stamp feature as a barcode, and remove “corrections” (to text, and in a 3 February footnote) that erroneously renamed the feature a QR code. A line has also been inserted defining the type of barcode used.