How Many Different Types of U.S Stamps Are There?

The first stamp was issued in 1840.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of unique stamps have been issued around the globe.

There are several significant types of stamps in the USA, and each type has a distinctive use.

Some stamps were quite popular in the past but have become obsolete because people have replaced them with other tools that allow for faster communication.

Here are the most 9 common types of stamps in the USA:


1. Definitives

These are the most common stamps because they’re being printed all the time. Regular-issue stamps are issued in several denominations to mail regular mail.

You will usually notice a difference between various stamps because of the differences in the ink, printing techniques, or paper used to create the stamp.

These stamps are reprinted all the time and are always easy to get.

2. Commemoratives

These stamps are the ones most favored by collectors because they’re issued to honor a particular person, event, or date. These limited-issue stamps are usually issued for a few months and are rare to find.

If any stamps are unsold, they’re usually destroyed. Collectors are sometimes willing to pay large amounts of cash for discontinued stamps because each one of them will be one of its kind.

3. Forever Stamps

A Forever Stamp costs the same as a first-class Definitive Stamp, which can be used to mail a letter that weighs 1 ounce or less.

However, unlike a Definitive Stamp, the Forever Stamp doesn’t lose its value and can be used forever.

If, in the future, the cost of mailing a 1-ounce letter increases, you can still use the same Forever Stamp.

Because it can be used forever, this stamp is also called a Permanent Stamp. You can use more than one stamp to mail a heavier letter.

4. Semipostals

These stamps are also issued for special occasions and contain a surcharge that helps to raise funds for a cause.

Collectors are also interested in these stamps because each one of them is related to a unique cause.

Stamps are issued in cases of natural disasters, fighting for a good cause, or helping fund a not for profit organization that aims to help people.

A Semipostal Stamp will cost more than a Definitive Stamp used to mail a similar letter. The USPS decides which organizations and causes to support through different stamps.

Congress usually requires the USPS to issue stamps to support causes like breast cancer or help the disabled rescue workers of 9/11.

5. First Day Covers

First Day Covers or FDCs represent the first issue of stamps.

This first issue usually appears as a postage stamp with an envelope that shows the date of issuing.

These stamps are only worthy if they have been canceled, as the first issue will become valuable and desirable by collectors.

6. Airmail

Airmail postage was invented to cover the costs of transferring mail by air. However, domestic airmail was canceled because all letters are currently transferred by air.

International airmail stamps are still issued to transfer mail from the US to other countries. In most cases, airmail stamps show images of airplanes or pilots.

7. Postage Due

Postage Due stamps are used on letters when you haven’t put enough stamps on the letter. This stamp will show the amount of postage due that you still have to pay.

It’s very functional and doesn’t show images of people or things, unlike other types of stamps.

Although the sender is the person responsible for paying the postage for the letters sent, if there aren’t enough stamps, the recipient can pay the due amount.

Stamps show different numerals that correspond to the amount that still needs to be paid.

A recipient can refuse to pay the amount of postage, and in this case, the letter will be returned back to the sender.

8. Special Delivery

Special Delivery stamps guarantee that the letter will be immediately delivered to the recipient once it has reached the nearest post office.

People choose to buy these stamps when they need to deliver an urgent letter.

A sender will pay an extra fee, and the stamp is usually not decorated.

These stamps are also called Express Mail stamps.

9. Military Stamps

These stamps are issued by the USPS for letters handled by the army.

During times of war or peace-making operations, military stamps are used on letters that the military will transport until they reach their final destination.

Military Stamps were widely used during World War 2 and the Vietnam War as they helped soldiers stay in touch with their families and friends back home.

Currently, these stamps aren’t that popular because electronic means of communication have replaced them.

Military personnel usually use instant messages or smartphones to communicate with their families back home.

What About Postage Meters

Postage meters are rented by people to be used at home or in the office.

They cancel the need for buying and sticking stamps on envelopes because they print the amount due in postage directly on the envelope.

A postage meter might work for you if you’re planning to send medium to high volumes of mail that include letters and small-sized parcels.

They will help you track mailing costs and make your letters and parcels look more professional. Depending on the meter type, the cost of renting a postage meter can be anything between $25 and $250.


There are several types of stamps that can be used to mail different letters. However, some of them are more common than others.