COUNTER POSTAGE LABELS ("HORIZON" LABELS)
Since the introduction of automated tills at Post Office branches, white
rectangular postage labels have replaced stamps on many letters, packets and
parcels. Such labels are generally referred
to as “Horizon” labels, after the name of the PO
computer system concerned. Initially,
all first-class items bore labels showing “1st”, and second class
showing “”2nd”, with bilingual versions in Wales.
9th November 2007, the service indicators for inland letter mail on
the Postage Labels dispensed at Post Office branch counters were changed, to
facilitate the separation of mail into the categories introduced in 2006 by
“Pricing in Proportion” – Letters, Large Letters and Packets. The indicators 1
for all first class letter mail and 2 for all second class were replaced by:
1L, 1LL and 1PK for the three categories of first class
2L, 2LL and 2PK for the three categories of second class.
However, from 27th July 2009, the indicators for Large Letters were
changed to 1LG and 2LG, with BLG for BFPO mail. At the same time, the indicator for
International Airsure letters was changed to AAX. A full list of the codes used, both current
and obsolete, can be found on the website UK ATM Philately.
On 8th June 2009 a trial commenced at Camden High Street PO, on Special
Delivery items only, of a new style of counter postage label. The self-adhesive
labels, 2 to a sheet, were pre-printed with a gold Machin head of the Queen,
and had simulated perforations to resemble conventional stamps. The trial
finished on 11th September 2009.
The next development on the Horizon labels bearing the Queen's head
in gold has now taken place, intended to be limited initially to post offices
An initial distribution was due to be
made giving a potential first day of use on 13th April 2010 at some
offices, but it appears that the distribution was made about one week late, so
that in practice the first feasible day of use could not have been until 20th
April. The intention was to run the
experiment in Wales for long enough to identify any problems arising and, if
necessary, to make changes to the design. Only then was it planned to roll
issue of the new labels out to the rest of the country, but labels were sent to
many other Post Offices in error, and were then brought into general use all
over the UK
as new requisitions for labels were filled.
recently, on 23rd August 2010, a new format of gold label, with
straight edges and rounded corners, presumably designed to overcome the
problems of peeling the "perforated" version, was brought into use at
Old Street PO, London EC1, as shown here.
Such labels next appeared in Chesterfield,
and were then due to be distributed to all PO branches in Wales. By late October, straight-edged gold labels appeared in England, so the "perforated" versions were short-lived. However, each PO ordered new labels only when required, stocks of each version being used up, so white and gold labels were in use at the same time.
From 26th September 2011, a change in software to distinguish the VAT status of transactions resulted in additional characters being added to each label. These consist of lower-case letter after "Royal Mail", and a number after "POSTAGE PAID UK". A full list of the codes and their significance is included in the October 2011 'BPS Journal'
Page revised 26th October 2011