BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

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BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by yellowduck »

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-58321580

British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) stamps can't be used on mail anymore. Assuming Diego Garcia even had outgoing mail.
British stamps banned from Chagos Islands in Indian Ocean

Mauritius has moved a symbolic step closer to wresting control of the Chagos Islands, in the Indian Ocean, from the UK.

The Universal Postal Union (UPU), a UN agency in charge of the world's postal policies, voted to block the use of UK stamps from the remote archipelago.

All post from the Chagos Islands must now bear stamps from Mauritius.

The UK says it will not cede control until the islands are no longer needed for security purposes.

The US currently uses the largest of the islands - Diego Garcia - for a military air base on what the UK describes as the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT).

Three powerful UN bodies have already ruled that the archipelago, which has a population of about 3,000, is part of Britain's old empire and should be handed to Mauritius immediately.

A set of pretty postal stamps showing sea slugs and angel fish might not seem like the sharp end of international diplomacy, the BBC's Africa correspondent Andrew Harding says.

But he adds that the near unanimous vote by the UPU to make those stamps illegal worldwide, is a blow to Britain, and another sign of its growing isolation over its claim to the Chagos Islands.

The next step could see Mauritius seeking to ban international flights over the area - a vast chunk of the Indian Ocean.

All indications so far show that on the Chagos issue Britain has almost no allies left, our correspondent says.
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by GB 789 »

Has anyone seen any commercial use of BIOT stamps in the last 20 years?

Until the US base is deemed of no further use to the yanks, I can’t see anything changing from the current status quo - It will be America’s call.
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by Erinmania »

GB 789 wrote: 28 Aug 2021 07:27 Has anyone seen any commercial use of BIOT stamps in the last 20 years?

Until the US base is deemed of no further use to the yanks, I can’t see anything changing from the current status quo - It will be America’s call.
Perhaps the question should be, has anyone seen mail from the American base at Diego Garcia using BIOT stamps ?
As it is a military base the answer is probably no.
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by norvic »

Answering the previous post, BIOT Philatelic Bureau is :

BIOT POST OFFICE
c/o Sure (Diego Garcia) Limited
BFPO 485
BFI 4TG
UK

.... which rather suggests that the post is handled by BFPO. (Sure handle the telecoms as well)

Mauritian stamps can only be used by a Mauritian Post Office and there isn't one on Diego Garcia.

Somehow I don't see Mauritius setting one up soon!

Meanwhile buy your BIOT stamps here! http://www.biotpostoffice.com/index.asp
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by GB 789 »

The 300 local inhabitants on the island may well be allowed to use the US forces post office for correspondence too. Economically, it really can’t be feasible for a local postal system to be in place.
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by Erinmania »

Are there local inhabitants ? The personnel are either US military or contractors employed by the military.
Rather absurdly the BIOT Post Office website suggests they can be visited at "downtown Diego Garcia".
No one is allowed anywhere near the Chagos Islands without a special permit and tourism is prohibited.

I would expect all mail is handled by the US military authorities and the use of a BFPO number is just a cover for issuing BIOT stamps in the UK and is not involved in postal mail activities at all. I could be wrong of course.
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by GB 789 »

Erinmania wrote: 28 Aug 2021 08:19 Are there local inhabitants ? The personnel are either US military or contractors employed by the military.
Rather absurdly the BIOT Post Office website suggests they can be visited at "downtown Diego Garcia".
No one is allowed anywhere near the Chagos Islands without a special permit and tourism is prohibited.

I would expect all mail is handled by the US military authorities and the use of a BFPO number is just a cover for issuing BIOT stamps in the UK and is not involved in postal mail activities at all. I could be wrong of course.
According to Wikipedia, there are no local indigenous people on the island, but there are around 3200 mostly US personnel - 1700 armed forces and 1500 contractors.
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by whiteknight&dog »

:? 1. Since BIOT issues recommenced in 1990 it has been stated that they are issued for use by the 3000 civilian workers on Diego Garcia who, being civilians, one supposes are not allowed to use British military or American military postal services. I seem to remember reading some time ago that most of these contracted civilians are Philippines citizens. This is a much larger target population for a postal service than a number of other territories including The Vatican, though the Holy See does receive lots of tourists (well, it did before the pandemic at any rate) who might use the postal service while BIOT of course has no tourists.

2. As with stamps of many philatelic entities eg British Antarctic Territory, South Georgia etc, the stamps serve to underline British sovereignty over the Chagos Islands and act as a form of philatelic propaganda announcing the 200 year old British claim to and rule over the islands. Sometimes the role of stamps as propaganda is even more important than their job as money makers for their respective postal services. This is why the Mauritius government wishes to see the suppression of BIOT stamps.

3. The United Nations, UPU and International Court of Justice can say what they like, and the Mauritian government can grind its teeth and complain as much as it likes, while the United States needs to use Diego Garcia as a vital strategic military base, whose need is underlined by the renewed Afghanistan crisis, there is no way that the USA will allow sovereignty to pass from the United Kingdom to a petty state such as Mauritius. Short of launching an invasion of the Chagos, setting up a post office on one of the islands and selling stamps from it, the UPU’s laughable assertion that only Mauritius stamps may be accepted from Chagos will never be a reality. The hopeless nature of these international organisations which work themselves up into a lather and a froth on issues such as this but fail to get to grips with the actions of China in places such as East Turkestan and Hong Kong and probably, at some stage, Taiwan is emphasised by this current BIOT controversy.

4. With all this in mind, I have little doubt that BIOT stamps will continue to be issued in the future with no more and no less frequent genuine postal usage than they did prior to this latest nonsense from the UPU.
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by Number-O-Ne »

The only (potential) consequence of this decision might be someone getting curious and finally starting to buy those BIOT stamps that apparently nobody wants.

UPU will not register or distribute those stamps based on the fact that BIOT postal authority is not recognized as a stamp issuing authority on the islands. That's what I believe the decision means.

The UPU, in practice, does not have the authority to decide which stamp is valid for postage once affixed on an outgoing correspondence. Strange, but true when you read the regulations.

On the other hand, I doubt we'll ever see a bona fide commercial international cover mailed from the main post office of Diego Garcia. The whole argument is moot from a postal history standpoint and remains just a political tug-of-war that Mauritius has no hopes of winning.
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by Erinmania »

Lots of viewpoints but do Stampboard members have ANY postal history items from Diego Garcia ?
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by MJ's pet »

Nearly all covers look philatelic. Here is one online:

BIOT.jpg
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

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B.I.O.T. Farquhar Island November 19, 1973 unsealed cover to Great Britain.
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by HalfpennyYellow »

It will be interesting to see if this decision will impact the status of BIOT stamps in catalogues.

If the UPU does not recognise these stamps anymore, assuming that they remain in use, I believe they would have a similar status to stamps of Artsakh, ​Iraqi Kurdistan, Transnistria, the breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine etc - which are not listed by SG or most of the other major catalogues to my knowledge.
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by GB 789 »

HalfpennyYellow wrote: 29 Aug 2021 07:01 It will be interesting to see if this decision will impact the status of BIOT stamps in catalogues.

If the UPU does not recognise these stamps anymore, assuming that they remain in use, I believe they would have a similar status to stamps of Artsakh, ​Iraqi Kurdistan, Transnistria, the breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine etc - which are not listed by SG or most of the other major catalogues to my knowledge.
I’d imagine they would still be listed by SG because they are a Commonwealth nation and there are likely to be a fair few collectors of them in SG’s home markets. Therefore, it would be in SG’s interests to continue listing them. The other examples you give are from areas that SG does not specialise in so very few collectors are affected by those issues from those countries being ignored.

I guess you could look at the continued listing of every GB commemorative issued by Royal Mail in a similar way. There are plenty of examples of them that are clearly not easily available to the general public, particularly mini sheets, and that really go against SG’s listing rules.

However, because they know lots of potential catalogue buyers collect them they continue to fully list them every year rather than footnoting the issues like they do with other countries.
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by norvic »

AND, irrespective of what anyone else says, the British Government (unlike the authorities in the break-away areas) say that they are valid for postage. They could be used at the BFPO - GIbraltar stamps, rather than UK, were often used by Forces in Gibraltar.
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by HalfpennyYellow »

@GB 789 - I agree that it's unlikely that SG will stop listing future BIOT stamps.

Meanwhile, here is an example of recent usage (2019) of BIOT stamps. It's from the BIOT Post Office and it contained some recent stamps which I had purchased online. Although it is postmarked "DIEGO GARCIA CHAGOS", I'm not sure whether or not it was actually sent from the territory given the Singapore return address.

Their website currently states that: "A wide range of current and past issues of British Indian Ocean Territory postage stamps and first day covers can be purchased online from the BIOT Post Office on Diego Garcia (using PayPal) and they will be sent out to you direct from the Territory" (emphasis mine)

I imagine that the BIOT Post Office itself is one of the largest users of BIOT stamps - so this is likely one of the closest ways you can get to 'commercial use' of their stamps.

BIOT.jpg
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by GB 789 »

HalfpennyYellow wrote: 29 Aug 2021 07:57 @GB 789 - I agree that it's unlikely that SG will stop listing future BIOT stamps.

Meanwhile, here is an example of recent usage (2019) of BIOT stamps. It's from the BIOT Post Office and it contained some recent stamps which I had purchased online. Although it is postmarked "DIEGO GARCIA CHAGOS", I'm not sure whether or not it was actually sent from the territory given the Singapore return address.

Their website currently states that: "A wide range of current and past issues of British Indian Ocean Territory postage stamps and first day covers can be purchased online from the BIOT Post Office on Diego Garcia (using PayPal) and they will be sent out to you direct from the Territory" (emphasis mine)

I imagine that the BIOT Post Office itself is one of the largest users of BIOT stamps - so this is likely one of the closest ways you can get to 'commercial use' of their stamps.

Image
That makes a lot of sense. As for your cover, in the 181 years of stamp history since 1840, I bet that there have been less than 10 stamped covers sent in that time between BIOT and Malta (unless of course you’re a regular purchaser from them!) Great postal history there.
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by Greaden »

Which has seen more postal action: BIOT, or Um al Quwain, or Sharjah, or the like?
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by yellowduck »

Greaden wrote: 29 Aug 2021 09:50 Which has seen more postal action: BIOT, or Um al Quwain, or Sharjah, or the like?
There are covers from the Trucial States, not from the post office (the PO covers are common, other covers, like Bank of the Middle East, are $100-250 at auction).

How many stamp-issuing places issue stamps that don't get used? Thinking of British territories:
BIOT
South Georgia

BAT at least gets tourists on a regular basis.

Gibraltar has lots of post offices.

Transnistria, the stamps can't be used on international mail. Artsakh stamps have been accepted on international mail.
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by whiteknight&dog »

yellowduck wrote: 29 Aug 2021 20:32
Greaden wrote: 29 Aug 2021 09:50
How many stamp-issuing places issue stamps that don't get used? Thinking of British territories:
BIOT
South Georgia

BAT at least gets tourists on a regular basis.

Gibraltar has lots of post offices.

Transnistria, the stamps can't be used on international mail. Artsakh stamps have been accepted on international mail.
The truth is - rather more than you first think. I would add certainly add Ross Dependency (New Zealand Post), Australian Antarctic Territory (Australia Post) - though these may be available for use in mainland Australia, perhaps someone can update me on this, French Southern and Antarctic Territories, all the Stamperija products from countless Francophone, Lusaphone and Spanish-speaking African countries plus Sierra Leone and Maldives on whose behalf Stamperija does not claim to have issued any products since the latter part of last year, most IGPC products (we might note that Antigua and Barbuda seems to sell only definitives at its postal counters and also note that the ‘Grenadines of St Vincent’ products do not seem to be sold at post offices in the islands themselves).

It’s arguable that here in Britain, Royal Mail can be similarly described - apart from an occasional newish ‘special’ stamp on post sent from a source linked to stamp collecting, I have not received any ‘ordinary’ letters with ‘special’ stamps used on them for 18 months or so. Even last year’s Christmas cards arrived without the special Christmas stamps applied to them. Doubtless this is true also elsewhere.

In many countries postage stamps are only of use in the role of being sold as Collectables often at remarkably high prices and in large numbers; genuinely commemorating significant events and anniversaries and persons of importance in the country’s history; acting as propaganda to project the country’s current government’s political goals and achievements; and as an assertion of sovereignty. Occasionally they may still be of use as receipts for the pre-payment of postage.
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by norvic »

Sorting out some boxes of cards for bulk sale, I came across this one of Diego Garcia.

"Looking south along the narrow stretch of the island, the supply warehouse is located on the lagoon side and the airstrip accommodates the supply aircraft transports" so says the caption.

Sent to 'Dad and Caroline' the writer says "it's nearly Christmas and I'm on a tropical island. sitting on a beach drinking ice cold beer...."

Paid at the inland rate of 20p on 21 Dec 1989, this unfortunately has a LONDON IS ML machine postmark, as if it had been posted in the UK. I suspect it was bulk-shipped, possibly via the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, and posted in London.

Diego Garcia postcard 1989.
Diego Garcia postcard 1989.
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by Global Administrator »

.
I cannot imagine SG listing new issues if UPU says they are not valid?

"The Mightiest Empire The World Has Ever Seen" within a century has turned into a few near deserted, remote, windswept rocks. :)


OK .. the game is to pinpoint the tiny red speck of BIOT !
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by gavin-h »

OK .. the game is to pinpoint the tiny red speck of BIOT !
Is it the irregular shaped one immediately above the left-hand value tablet? :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by HalfpennyYellow »

Global Administrator wrote: 01 Sep 2021 02:45 Image
I had never realised that Malta is not shown on this stamp. It might be argued that it might be because of the islands' small size, but then again Gibraltar and the Falklands are indicated (with even larger blotches of red than Ireland!). :roll:

Egypt and Sudan are also omitted.

To get back on topic, Linn's Stamp News contains an article about the UPU decision and it suggests that no further BIOT stamps will be issued:
Linn's Stamp News wrote:The first stamps for the British Indian Ocean Territory were issued in January 1968, less than three years after it was established as a British overseas territory on Nov. 8, 1965. What may likely be the territory’s last stamps were released June 8. This set of six se-tenant (side-by-side) stamps features angelfish.
https://www.linns.com/news/us-stamps-postal-history/biot-sta ... by-the-upu

The BIOT post office website does not mention anything regarding this decision at the moment.
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by ligneN »

Greaden wrote: 29 Aug 2021 09:50 Which has seen more postal action: BIOT, or Um al Quwain, or Sharjah, or the like?
Quite some covers from Um and Shar and other "Sheikhdoms" 1960s/early 1970s have been seen, all properly franked and sent registered (merchandise contents) or unsealed (new issue announcements, stocklist) to dealers or private collectors in US, Canada and Europe. Or stamp magazines like Linns etc. With proper transits/arrivals. - Only later on they switched to the standard stampless postal business envelopes.
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by whiteknight&dog »

As regards Linns Stamp News reporting that no more BIOT stamps will be issued because the UPU says so, I just don’t understand why this is so difficult.

The UPU can say whatever it likes but just because it says something over which it has absolutely no control - that is - neither the UPU nor Mauritius nor the United Nations nor The Emperor of Ice cream nor anyone else has possession of the Chagos Islands apart from the United Kingdom with The United States, very much with its tail between its legs after the Afghanistan debacle, renting part of the island as a vital military base (more important now than ever), does not mean that the UPU will have its way.

The UK continues to assert (despite what various biased international organisations say) that Diego Garcia and its sister islands are British territory (which it may hand over to Mauritius in the future when its need as a military base ends - which looks unlikely in the foreseeable future given Biden’s abandonment of Afghanistan and the likely ensuing mayhem there) and the UK retains possession of the islands. In practical terms Mauritius can not physically sell stamps for mail in Chagos unless the UK allows it to do so but doing so would be an admission that BIOT is not British sovereign territory which the UK says it is and has been for 200 years.

Either the UK can continue to allow stamps inscribed ‘BIOT’ to be issued in the territory or it could abandon civilian mail altogether which does not seem very practical. Hence it seems ridiculous to assume that BIOT will not continue to release stamps with its name on them, if only to underline British sovereignty and possession, no matter what philatelic magazines and international organisations say on the matter.
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by Global Administrator »

HalfpennyYellow wrote: 01 Sep 2021 19:20
Global Administrator wrote: 01 Sep 2021 02:45 Image
I had never realised that Malta is not shown on this stamp. It might be argued that it might be because of the islands' small size, but then again Gibraltar and the Falklands are indicated (with even larger blotches of red than Ireland!). :roll:

Egypt and Sudan are also omitted.

Well the Canadians are polite and nice folks but ........ :lol:

Thank goodness the AMERICANS did not design that Global Map stamp!



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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by RevRed+ »



Post from B.I.O.T.

"To Our Valued Customer,

Your order is being processed & due to Covid-19 and airport restrictions, our mails are transported thru sea freight instead of airfreight. The voyager will leave our location Diego Garcia on a certain date (TBA). Once it arrives in Singapore, our contact will collect the shipment and deliver it to Singapore Post Central for distribution to different country of destinations.

I will continue to update on the status of your order.

Thank you & have a safe day."



Regards,



Ms. Ana Tenebro

Customer Service Agent.
Red.
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by yellowduck »

RevRed+ wrote: 01 Sep 2021 23:20
our mails are transported thru sea freight instead of airfreight. The voyager will leave our location Diego Garcia on a certain date (TBA).
An island that is basically a giant aircraft carrier...has no air freight available. And it sounds like Pitcairn Island, to say they don't even know when the next ship will sail.
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by GB 789 »

yellowduck wrote: 02 Sep 2021 03:08
RevRed+ wrote: 01 Sep 2021 23:20
our mails are transported thru sea freight instead of airfreight. The voyager will leave our location Diego Garcia on a certain date (TBA).
An island that is basically a giant aircraft carrier...has no air freight available. And it sounds like Pitcairn Island, to say they don't even know when the next ship will sail.
Likely that the US/U.K. has designated that air strip as military operations only so domestic traffic would need to be shipped.
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by RevRed+ »



And the first message was:

"Thank you for visiting the Online BIOT Post Office, located on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.
You bought the following items from the BIOT Post Office on 31 August 2021.
Your payment via PayPal has been received and the items will be shipped to your address within the next three working days." :?: :?: :?:
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by RevRed+ »



Update:

Ana Tenebro <ana.tenebro@sure.com>
Wed 27/10/2021 13:15
To Our Valued Customer,

I am pleased to inform, that the shipment with your order on it was delivered to Singapore Post Central dated today 27th October 2021. Kindly give 2 to 3 weeks allowance before you receive the mail & please confirm.

Thank you for your patience & have a safe day.



Best regards,

Ms. Ana Tenebro

Customer Service Agent
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by RevRed+ »



And the stamps I ordered duly arrived safely.

BIOT Cover
BIOT Cover


BIOT Cover
BIOT Cover

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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by nigelc »

.
Nice one RevRed! 8-)
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by RevRed+ »



:D :ugeek:

And thanks to yellowduck (and Stampboards) for bringing BIOT to my attention.
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Re: BIOT stamps no longer valid on international mail: UPU vote (BBC)

Post by Number-O-Ne »

RevRed+ wrote: 15 Nov 2021 06:31

And the stamps I ordered duly arrived safely.


Image


Image


Congratulations on your purchase RevRed. I'm glad you received everything safely.

I believe the cover is at least as nice as its contents. The cover is also proof that BIOT stamps are actually valid on international mail. Otherwise Singapore postal service would not have accepted it.

Despite the claims made on the original news article, UPU does not have (and never had) the jurisdiction to determine whether a particular stamp is valid for postage or not.

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