Sunday, June 5, 2011

New International Rates from 4 July 2011

International rates will increase on 4 July due to the fuel surcharge. The new rates are (with old rates in brackets):
$1.60 ($1.50) International postcards and greetings cards
$1.65 ($1.55) Letter rate to Asian and Pacific countries (to 50 grams)
$2.35 ($2.25) Letter rate to Europe, Africa, America (to 50 grams)
$3.30 ($3.10) Letter rate to Asian and Pacific countries (over 50 up to 125 grams)
$4.70 ($4.50) Letter rate to Europe, Africa, America (over 50 up to 125 grams)
$1.50 ($1.35) Christmas Cards
$1.50 ($1.35) Aerogrammes
$1.60 ($1.60) Prepaid postcards (no change in price)
Prepaid envelopes, Registered Post and Express Post stationery will also increase. More information can be found at: New International Prices on the Australia Post website.

Collectors will no doubt have mixed feelings about this rise.

The 'old' rates shown above were only introduced on 4 April - probably making these rates the shortest lived postage rates since decimal currency was introduced. This will pose a challenge for postal history collectors, as covers showing the Lake Eyre $1.55, $2.25 and $3.10, Queen's Birthday $2.25 and Royal Wedding $2.25 correctly used in period very difficult to find.

We also have the peculiar situation that the 'old' $1.35 Christmas Card rate was only a rate 'on paper', having never been in used, as the rate only applies in November and December each year.

Stamp wise we will probably see at least three new values: $1.60, $1.65 and $2.35. Stamps for the $3.30 and $4.70 rates will probably also be issued. A Bush Babies issue is planned for release on 1 July, and it is likely that this will be theme of the new Internationals (I wonder if they will be similar to the 2009 issue?). Personalised stamps will probably be issued.

This rise also explains a number of perculiarities of the Lake Eyre issue. The issue was bought forward; the large size of $1.55 and $2.25 stamps was unusual; personalised stamps were not released; and as mentioned in my June Stamp News article it is known that more than one value was printed in the same sheet, a layout not normally used for Australian stamps. No doubt this is was done to avoid wastage with rates increasing so soon.

The recently reprinted $7.50 (5 x $1.50) booklet with new cover will probably become quite scarce, only being on sale for three months.

Finally, Australia Post has said on its website (link) that it will review the fuel surcharge after 3 months. Could we see a situation where international rates increase again in September, if the fuel surcharge increases?

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