December 2020 – Matrix code on stamps of Deutsche Post AG

The digitization offensive announced by Deutsche Post on 3 March has begun. The facts presented at the press conference are all to be put into practice in the next two years. Here only the changes concerning stamps that will begin in the new year are listed. From now on, there will be three stamp formats available at Deutsche Post.

First German stamp with matrix code – issue date 4 February 2021. The theme fits: “Digital Change”.

Stamps with a data matrix code on the right-hand side.

    • In the future, stamps will have a QR code (matrix code in postal jargon), as is already standard for parcels. Anyone who scans the letter before sending it can keep an eye on its status via the Post app. Matrix code franking is more forgery-proof and ensures that postal stamps cannot be used more than once.
    • This is because, concerning forgeries, there are currently around 70 known forgeries since the introduction of the euro, to the detriment of the German Post.
    • re-uses are stamps that have escaped stamping (which may not be reused),
    • stamps with washed-out ink-jet cancellations (offered in large numbers on Internet platforms from Eastern Europe)
    • and complete forgeries, mostly from East Asia.
    • With the total amount of stamps used on postal items amounting to approximately € 1.5 billion annually, a percentage of invalid postal stamps of 4-5% represents an immense sum, which is to be greatly reduced by the planned measures.
    • Philatelists can scan the matrix code of a stamp and receive background information such as issue date, motif, edition, etc. in their app.
    • Deutsche Post AG apparently also wants to convert its cancels to blue color by March 2021. This is affecting cancellation at letter centers. No timeframes are yet known for counter and also special postmarks. The reason for this is that black cancels can make the black matrix code illegible for the machines, which cannot happen with the blue color. This also gives us hope that there will still be cancellations – despite the matrix code.

The classic stamp

Special stamp 2001 with double nominal DM and Euro – still valid for postage today.

Definitive series “Buildings”: here, too, there were double nominals in 2001 that are still valid for franking today.

    • will probably be replaced in the long run by the one with the matrix code, although they will probably continue to exist for a longer transitional period.
    • They will also apparently continue to be valid for postage.



The “mobile stamp”:

The future of postage? Handwritten code.

    • In addition to the stamps with or without code, there is also the handwritten number combination that can be affixed to the top right of the letter. You receive this number combination when you request the desired postage via the app and pay online. A multi-digit alphanumeric code is then generated and sent, which can then be handwritten instead of a stamp on the top right of the postcard or envelope.

There were already beautiful letters without stamps. Before 1840!

So as you can see: the German Post is taking a new approach for postage. The changes now taking place have far-reaching consequences in the field of philately. Those that automatically come to mind – such as: is there a future for the stamp? Or the establishment of new collecting areas – but also there may be some of which we are not thinking of at the moment. In any case, philately must once again prove to be flexible, but it should succeed. And beautiful letters without stamps have existed before and are an interesting collecting field today (pre-philately). Nevertheless, if there were to be no more stamps, I would miss these small cultural carriers and artworks.