Notes from the Past

Postage Due Labels

Although widely called a "stamp," the postage due label is not a stamp by the common definition of the word.  It does not prepay postage, nor does it frank a letter.  It is purely an official indication of an amount due the postal service on an item of delivered mail.

Generally not very attractive, postage due labels are mostly plain and very functional, usually with large numerals indicating the amount due.

Postage due labels were first issued in 1859 by France.  The US issued them beginning in 1879, and Great Britain did not consider them necessary until 1914.

In recent years there have been two trends.  On one hand, postage due labels are being used less and less as postage meters take over their function; on the other hand, many countries are beginning to produce attractive multicolored pictorial postage due labels.

The latter trend is obviously aimed at philatelic sales, since the labels serve no postal purpose outside a nation's postal service, and there is no point in making them available to the general public.

Some of the inscriptions to be found on postage due labels are To Pay (Great Britain), Bajar Porto (Indonesia), Deficit (some Spanish-language countries), Doplata (Poland), A percevoir and Chiffre Taxe (France), Losen (Sweden), Multa (Portugal), Portomarke (Germany), Segnatasse (Italy), A Payer te Betalen (Belgium), Enapoimon (Greece), Efterporto (Danish West Indies), Portzegal or Te Betalen Port (the Netherlands), Postas le Nioc (Ireland), Taxa Devida (Brazil), and Portomarke (Austrian area and Norway). 

- Kenneth A. Wood
This is Philately - Volume Two G-P
Van Dahl Publications 1982
Posted October 8, 2000

Editor's Note:  The United States discontinued the use of postage due stamps in 1985.

Index of 508 Notes from the Past

Note:  If the link isn't returned the first try, try again.

Comments? Send me an e-mail
Please include a reference to this item.