Can you reuse a stamp from a mailed letter that did not get postmarked?

Sadly, no.

I was guessing that would be the answer, but I figured it was worth checking. For some reason, the stamps on the DadMail I receive seem to go unmarked by the post office an unusually high percentage of the time. I received a letter from him today with four forever stamps on it, all unmarked, which seemed like a waste. So I wondered… I don’t suppose I could scrape those off and slap them on another letter?

According to 18 U.S.C. § 1720, paragraph 3,

Whoever knowingly uses in payment of postage, any postage stamp, postal card, or stamped envelope, issued in pursuance of law, which has already been used for a like purpose—
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both[.]

So it looks like the Post Office is way ahead of me on that one.

But now here’s another question. I am reasonably certain the letter my dad sent me was not nearly heavy enough to warrant four stamps. I’m pretty sure it could have gotten by on two. If I were to go to the trouble of weighing it and checking the requirements, and found two of them were in fact not needed, would it be a violation to use just those two? Tragically, I think even the unnecessary stamps are now forfeit, as “which has already been used for a like purpose” suggests yes, their use for the purpose of mailing — even if the use was not required — now makes them tainted.

And anyone else remember hearing about that old trick where you write the receiver’s address in the sender space, and the sender’s address in the receiver space, so that when you don’t attach any postage it gets “returned” to the intended recipient? I wouldn’t exactly recommend trying it, but it looks like that’s only punishable by a fine under 18 U.S.C. § 1725. Although I am sure there is a fraud statute lurking out there you could tag that under as well.

-Susan

12 thoughts on “Can you reuse a stamp from a mailed letter that did not get postmarked?

  1. Hello I Was Just Wondering Can I Reuse A Stamp That Was Giving To Me On A Letter? It Wasn’t Marked Or Anything..Thanks Plase Email Me Back..

  2. YOU CAN REUSE A FOREVER STAMP IF IT’S NOT BEEN STAMPED OVER BY THE POST OFFICE IF IT HAS THE BLACK OR RED STAMP OVER IT THEN IT’S USELESS.

  3. no is it not ok to reuse a stamp that has been used as postage. it doesn’t matter whether it’s been cancelled or not. it is illegal.

  4. all stamps are cancelled by the usps with marking not visible to the naked eye.
    ie: flourecent dyes. so even if it looks like it has not been cancelled, it has been.
    you can not cheat the computer, which ALL mail is run through.

  5. I have had the letter just stuck back in the mailbox by the carrier. The stamp looked unmarked by the post office, the carrier refused it.

  6. if you get mail and stamp is not or some stamps are not stamped my post office you cant use them over but if all the stamps are not stamped over by the post office or you make a mistake by putting them on the wrong envelope you can take the whole envelope to the post office and get 90 %back. but I heard not that I do it if you soak the envelope in water it will peal off and just a little dab of elmers glue will do let it dry overnight this is what I heard not that I do this

  7. Okay, here is another question: Suppose you place postage on an envelope, and then don’t use it because, say you incorrectly addressed it and you are going to tear up the envelope: Can you reuse this stamp (take it off that envelope and put it on another? It has not gone through the post office!

  8. I can just see “The Used Stamp Police” showing up at my door with guns drawn arresting me because I used an unmarked stamp to mail a letter!,

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