Postage Stamps Categories -- Types of Postage Stamps

Postage Stamps Categories -- Types of Postage Stamps

When there is a postage stamp placed at the upper right portion of an envelope, it means that the sender of that letter has paid out the necessary postage needed for the postal service to deliver the letter to you. Therefore, postage stamps must bear vital information about the country where the letter came from.

Along with the existence of postage stamps came the existence of stamp collectors. Stamp collecting is a very popular hobby throughout the world. Stamp collectors love to sort through their collection, and to do that, they need to identify postage stamps categories or the types of stamps they have onhand. Click here to read Interesting Facts about Stamp Collecting Today

When you browse through the StampWorld free online stamp catalogue, you will notice that the stamps can be sorted via postage stamps categories (see the Search box, circled red on the rightmost part of the United States online stamp catalogue below). Click here to go to the catalogue.

Postage stamps categories StampWorld

Postage Stamps Categories -- What Types of Stamps Exist

When you collect stamps, you will come across postage stamps categories or types that are unique in their own way.

Please note that the different postage stamps categories listed here are in alphabetical order:

  • Airmail stamp -- this stamp is used for payment of airmail service. Airmail postage stamps usually show images of airplanes and even famous pilots. These stamps are considered to be a special type of mail delivery that is entirely separate from mail delivered via ship, train or other vehicles.

Postage stamp categories - airmail stamp

  • Booklet stamp -- the stamps are printed and issued in a booklet layout.

booklet stamp

  • Certified mail stamp -- stamp that lets the sender have proof of mailing via a mailing receipt. Only available for First Class Mail and Priority Mail letters mailed in the United States. Every certified mail is given its own label number that serves as an official record of an item being mailed by the postal service.

certified mail stamp

  • Coil stamps -- the stamps can be bought in a roll or they can be issued individually in a vending machine as tear-off stamps.

coil stamps

  • Commemorative stamp -- these limited-issue stamps serve to commemorate, honor or remember particular historical or special events that are of some significance to man. Although it can be used as postage, commemoratives are often owned by collectors and sold privately through auctions and online.

commemorative stamp

  • Customised stamp -- a stamp wherein you can choose the image by sending a photo or by using a computer. Some customized stamps are actually meter labels and not true stamps. Also called personalised stamp.

customized stamp

  • Definitive stamps -- the most commonly used stamps and they are issued mainly for everyday postage charges. They are issued year after year, and the number produced is not limited. Since they are very common, they have less interesting designs than commemorative stamps. The same design may be used for many years and are often issued in a sequence of stamps with varied denominations. Definitive stamps are available for sale for many years.

definitive stamp

  • Express mail stamp -- Also called special delivery stamp.

express mail or special delivery stamp

  • First day covers -- postage stamps are first issued on a particular date, often called first day issues or first day covers (FDCs). An FDC usually appears as an envelope with a postage stamp, and a postmark bearing the stamp's first day of issue.

first day cover

  • Forever stamps -- In 2007, the USPS introduced the forever stamp, which costs exactly the same as a standard first-class definitive stamp. However, unlike other stamps, it can be used "forever" as a first-class postage stamp on standard-size envelopes weighing 1 ounce or less. For instance, if you buy a forever stamp for 50 cents and a few years later the price of first-class stamps goes up to 53 cents, the forever stamp can still be used, and you don't need to buy extra 3 cents in postage to be able to send your mail. Also called permanent or non-denominated postage stamp.

forever stamp

  • International stamp -- A country can also sell stamps on behalf of other countries.
  • Local post stamp -- stamp used when a postal service operates only within a specific geographical area such as a city or a distinct transportation route.

local post stamp

  • Military stamp -- stamp for a country's military forces. They were used in time of war, or while ensuring a peace-keeping operation. Most often, the letters will be transported by the army itself until they reach the country of destination. Military stamps were widely used during World War II by soldiers who wish to send letters to their families.

military stamp

  • Minisheet or miniature sheet -- commemorative issue that is smaller than a regular full sheet of stamps, usually having more than 1 stamp.


  • Official mail stamp -- stamp used by the government.

official mail stamps

  • Occupation stamp -- stamp used by the occupying army.

occupation stamp

  • Overprint a regularly-issued postage stamp such as a definitive or commemorative issue, which has been changed after release by Printing Over a part of the stamp. Denominations may be changed through this manner.


  • Perforated stamp -- usually refers to perforations surrounding a stamp to divide a whole sheet into single stamps. Perforated stamps can also be those stamps having perforations across the middle with letters (monogram) or a pattern, which are called PERFINS. These stamps are typically bought by corporations to deter theft by employees.

perforated stamp

  • Postage due -- a stamp denoting that full postage has not yet been paid, and the amount owed is indicated. An example of this are the parcel post postage due stamps of the US Post Office Department.

postage due stamp

  • Postal tax stamp -- a stamp that indicates a tax aside from the postage fee has been paid and it is required to send mail. This is often required on mail issued on a specific day or for a few days.

parcel post postal tax stamp

  • Revenue stamp -- used to collect taxes and fees on alcoholic drinks, medicines, hunting licenses, playing cards, tobacco, firearm registration, documents, etc. It is issued by local and national governments, and by officials. It is also called a tax stamp or fiscal stamp.

revenue stamp

  • Self-adhesive stamp -- a pressure-sensitive, self-sticking stamp that does not need moisture to stick.

self-adhesive stamp

  • Semi-postal stamp -- A first-class definitive stamp may be bought for 50 cents, but a first-class semi-postal stamp costs 60 cents. The excess 10 cents will be transferred to a charitable institution (less the postal service's costs) to fund a cause. Also called charity stamp.

semi-postal stamp

  • Souvenir sheet -- commemorative stamp issued in a big format valid for postage. It often contains an imperforate or perforate stamp as part of its design. Please see minisheet.

souvenir sheet

  • Special stamp -- a stamp that is not considered a definitive or commemorative stamp. Holiday stamps (Christmas, Thanksgiving) or Greetings stamps and Love stamps are examples of special stamps.

special stamp

  • Specimen stamp -- sent to postal administrations and postmasters as a means to validate genuine stamps and avoid forgeries.

specimen stamp

  • Test stamp -- a label stamp not valid for postage. It is used by postal authorities to test out machines that can detect a stamp on envelopes or to test out their sorting and cancelling machines. Also called dummy or training stamps.

test stamp

  • Variable value stamp -- stamp issued by a machine similar to an ATM, with the value or amount of your choice printed during the time the stamp is dispensed. The value may be variable or based on a fixed series of postal rates.

variable value stamp

  • War tax stamp -- stamp added to an envelope aside from a regular postage stamp. It is the same as a postal tax stamp, but the revenue is used to pay for the costs of war.

war tax stamp

  • Water-activated stamp -- The adhesive or gum on this stamp must be moistened, usually by licking; therefore, the stamps are also called Lick and Stick stamps.

water-activated stamp

What Postage Stamps Categories Do You Have?

There are many other types of stamps or postage stamps categories available in the world, and the ones mentioned above are definitely going to be helpful when you are trying to identify your stamps, especially if you are just new to stamp collecting.

Postage Stamps Categories

It is up to you to collect all sorts of postage stamps categories you want and it can become a unique collection. As for people who want a more specific collection, they can collect something based on postage stamps categories or types. The easiest postage stamps categories to find and gather are those frequently used on mail: commemoratives, definitives and special postage stamps.

Ever since the invention of the first postage stamp, postage stamps categories had always been a very important part of man's history. Many people agree that it is a very powerful and effective medium for people to instill history into our present world which is now greatly influenced by modern technology. This goes to show that despite all the different modern devices that man has invented, stamps will always continue to prevail and exist in society as long as there is history to tell.