What Are Semipostal Stamps? (Meaning, Value + More)

It seems like every time someone mentions the Postal Service, it’s to complain about rising stamp prices. That makes sense considering that stamps have increased 13 cents in the past ten years.

But even as stamp prices continue to rise, millions of people are willing to spend more to purchase Semipostal stamps. These stamps are priced higher than other postage stamps, with the extra money supporting charities. If you’d like to know more, check out all my research!

What Are Semipostal Stamps?

A Semipostal stamp, also known as a Charity stamp, is a postage stamp sold at a higher-than-normal postage rate, with the extra money going to a charitable organization. Sometimes these stamps have a plus sign printed on them, but often there’s nothing to distinguish these stamps from other postage stamps. USPS currently sells four Semipostal stamps.

To learn more about the history of Semipostal stamps and how they work, keep reading!

Semipostal stamps—also known as charity stamps—are postage stamps sold at a higher-than-normal postage price.

Then, the additional money from the purchase price is given to support a particular purpose, such as health or disaster relief. 

Occasionally, these stamps show two denominations separated by a plus sign as a way of distinguishing between the retail price of the stamp and the charitable donation.

Also, USPS’ Semipostal stamps include a plus sign but don’t indicate the amount given to charity.

Further, there are two ways Semipostal stamps can be released in the United States.

For example, one way is through the Semipostal Authorization Act (SAA), and the other is through Congressional legislation.

How Are Semipostal Stamps Different From Other Stamps?

Semipostal stamps are different from other stamps because their purpose isn’t solely to pay for postage.

As Forever stamps, they’ll cover postage costs for any one-ounce letter for the foreseeable future, but that’s not the only thing they do.

That said, Semipostal stamps are more expensive than other stamps (17 cents more expensive, to be exact).

Then, that extra money goes to supporting organizations and charities associated with health, preservation, and other causes.

Which Semipostal Stamps Does USPS Offer?

Currently, USPS offers four semipostal stamps. With that, below is a list of the different semipostal stamps and their issue date and release location.

  • Breast Cancer Research Stamp: issued July 29, 1998, in Washington, DC
  • Save Vanishing Species Stamp: issued September 20, 2011, in Louisville, KY
  • Alzheimer’s Stamp: issued November 30, 2017, in Baltimore, MD
  • Healing PTSD Stamp: issued December 2, 2019, in Charlotte, NC

Breast cancer and vanishing species stamps result from congressional legislation, while the Alzheimer’s and PTSD stamps are the product of USPS’ Semipostal Authorization Act.

How Much Do Semipostal Stamps Cost?

How Much Do Semipostal Stamps Cost? USPS

Semipostal stamps retail for $15 for a sheet of 20 stamps, which works out to 75 cents per stamp.

Currently, the price of retail postage stamps is 58 cents, making Semipostal stamps 17 cents more expensive than other stamps.

By law, the revenue generated by stamp sales (minus the postage and the reimbursement of costs to the Postal Service) is transferred to the selected agency or charity.

Where Does The Money From Semipostal Stamps Go?

Money from Semipostal stamps goes to various agencies and charities, depending on which stamp you purchase.

Below, we’ll look at the four semipostal stamps available as of 2022 and see how much money has been donated to the various causes.

Breast Cancer Research Stamp 

70% of the proceeds from the sale of these stamps goes to the National Institutes of Health.

Additionally, 30% goes to the Medical Research Program at the Department of Defense. Overall, these stamps have raised more than $93.8 million.

Save Vanishing Species Stamp

100% of sales are transferred to the US Fish and Wildlife Service to support the Multinational Species Conservation Funds. Currently, more than $6.5 million has been raised.

Alzheimer’s Stamp

100% of the net amount raised is donated to the National Institutes of Health to support research and medical discoveries about Alzheimer’s disease.

Overall, these stamps have raised more than $1.1 million.

PTSD Stamp

100% of sales are donated to the Department of Veterans Affairs to support post-traumatic stress disorder. So far, more than $1.3 million has been raised to support this cause.

Where Can I Buy Semipostal Stamps?

You can buy Semipostal stamps at Post Offices, online, or by calling 1-800 STAMP-24 (1‑800‑782‑6724). 

Can I Submit A Proposal For A Semipostal Stamp?

In most cases, private citizens cannot submit proposals for new semipostal stamps.

That said, submissions must be accompanied by an official letter from one or two executive agencies certifying that they’re willing to implement the proposal and adhere to the conditions set up by the Semipostal Authorization Act.

Furthermore, proposals need to be carefully planned and coordinated.

In other words, they cannot be mere suggestions, as is the case with nominations for commemorative postage stamps.

So, organizations wishing to submit a proposal for a Semipostal stamp should be aware that the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee is looking for causes that have “broad national appeal” and that are “in the national public interest and further human welfare.”

With that, USPS will consider proposals until May 20, 2023, submitted by mail to the following address:

Office of Stamp Services

Attn: Semipostal Discretionary Program

475 L’Enfant Plaza SW., Room 3300

Washington, DC 20260–3501

Also, proposals can be submitted in a single Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) file sent by email to semipostal@usps.gov with the subject line: Semipostal Discretionary Program.

If you are looking to learn more, you can also read our posts on USPS stamps types, Purple Heart Forever stamps, and what are non-machinable stamps.

Conclusion

Semipostal stamps have only been available in the US since 1998, but they’ve helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars in that time.

In addition to the current offerings, money has been raised for 9/11 rescue workers and charities working to stop domestic violence.

Therefore, if you have been touched by one of the causes USPS is raising money for, buying a Semipostal stamps sheet is an easy way to donate money to organizations working hard for change.

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Marques Thomas

Marques Thomas graduated with a MBA in 2011. Since then, Marques has worked in the retail and consumer service industry as a manager, advisor, and marketer. Marques is also the head writer and founder of QuerySprout.com.

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