Help: Post offices doesn't offer regular postmark cancellation any more?


I don’t really like the cancellation that is printed by the sorting machine, and I don’t like my postcard to be pen cancelled. So I would like to go to the post office counter in person to get my postcards handstamped. I did this last week at a post office in Cambridge.

However, I tried to do the same thing again at the same post office, but this time the lady at the counter told me that they don’t handstamp the postcards, they only do it for large letter or parcel. And I said my postcards were being handstamped last week here, she replied that it shouldn’t happen.

Does anyone know what’s going on? Is this the case for every post office in the UK, or it’s just this particular one? And I’m quite worried about the postcards that I sent out last week, I wonder if they will be delivered properly.

Thanks in advance!


Unfortunately, that information is correct, post office workers should not postmark anything smaller than a large letter.
I have had a same problem with many of the post offices that I have visited on search of stamps.

Really though its is at the counter staffs discretion. Some will do it no questions asked, most will not do it, unless you send the postcard as a registered letter (ppffftt No Way!)
Some will even insist you buy some stamps or will only cancel the stamps sold from that post office.

Fortunately I have kept my local Post Office team sweet, as I tend the purchase alot of stamps from them (they stock specials and themed stamps) and mail out personal and work mail, and occasionally purchase currency.
So they tend to postmark my postcards at the point of posting, but I know when not to take the *Ps***

Lately dispite handstamping at the counter, my postcards and letters have been machine cancelled over the top and some occasions pen/markerpen cancelled dispite the post office cancel. :disappointed:
So No guarantee of a good cancels

1 Like

Thank you so much for the answer! I understand that this might be the post office policy to make sure that the mailing system work smoothly. That’s a bit shame though.

Sadly, they’re not amenable in Oxford either… I feel bad sometimes with swaps when my cards arrive with no postmark at all and people overseas don’t understand that hand cancel isn’t available here. And it’s not that I’ve been lazy, it’s just that it’s not available at my post office :woman_shrugging:

And most of my domestic mail arrives with the dreaded pen cancellation :scream::scream::scream:

1 Like

Yeah, and the printing quality of the machine cancellation is quite bad. Most of the time I couldn’t see the date and the letters on the cancellation clearly. Sometimes I couldn’t even see a cancellation. That’s quite disappointing because for me, the postmarks or the cancellation is part of the fun in sharing postcards.

And it’s really surprising that most of your domestic mail got pen cancelled. I guess it might be because of your local mailman, because for me it’s only a few of them got pen cancelled. I saw from somewhere that some mailmen will use pen to cancel the stamps if they see the stamps not cancelled clearly, which is really likely to happen as I just said.


Sometimes, I even get additional pen cancellation on foreign cards in addition to the hand or machine cancellation applied by the postal authority from that country :flushed:. That just seems unnecessary!

I’m due to move to another city soon, though, so hoping it might be better there :crossed_fingers:


I recently got a postcard that was stunning but when I looked at the stamp, I saw that the post office took a black sharpie and just crossed it out. Seeing the stamp crossed out like that with a marker is like graffiti on a wall to me. I wonder if there’s a way to have them not do that.

I went into my local post office to ask for a postmark/hand cancellation for the first time today.

The worker behind the desk said I should come back after lunch because the post office computer was down, and didn’t know what a postmark was (even when I explained it as a stamp that has the date and maybe name of the post office on)!

I guess I’ll go back after lunch and see if I can explain, but I have very little hope

My village used to have its own postmark - I’ve seen it online - but this was decades ago