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.


22 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..


  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!,

  9. I have reused uncancelled stamps a number of times and never had a problem. They get to their destination and have never been returned to sender. The Postal Service doesn’t have time to deal with people over a .49 stamp they are in enough financial trouble as it is. Illegal or not, I wouldn’t worry about it.

    I have also reused an envelope with stamped postage without issue. For example, you are sent a letter with a return envelope which has stamped postage via a postal meter (not Business Reply Mail). I simply cover the address on the return envelope with a plain white label and write a new address in. Works fine.

  10. Another thing I wonder is, what about those charities that send pre-stamped donation envelopes in fundraising letters they send me (in the hopes that I’ll send a donation so as not to waste their stamp). Wouldn’t it be OK to soak off those stamps and use them on another letter, since they haven’t been used as postage yet?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s