News and press releases

  • Royal Mail
    Year of the Snake stamp
    4 February 2013
    Snake Charmer – Royal Mail celebrates Chinese New Year on special stamp sheet
  • Royal Mail heralds the Year of the Snake on a special sheet of 20 stamps
  • The limited-edition sheet features celebrations from Chinatown locations across the UK
  • The launch follows the popular Royal Mail sheet for the Year of the Dragon in 2012
  • The sheet costs £12.50 and will be available from 7 February in Post Offices nationwide and online at

To mark the start of the Year of the Snake, Royal Mail is issuing a limited-edition stamp sheet on 7 February, featuring celebrations by Chinese communities around the UK alongside intricate designs representing all five elemental snake types.

The striking and multi-faceted sheet comprises 20 fireworks Smilers® stamps alongside images of five UK Chinatowns. These are joined by the elemental snake types - Metal, Earth, Fire, Wood and Water - as well as images reflecting the aspirations of Hope, Heritage, Success, Togetherness and Good Fortune.

Philip Parker, Royal Mail spokesperson, said: “The Lunar New Year is a huge cause for celebration across many parts of the UK and worldwide, and as such Royal Mail is delighted to be marking the Year of the Snake with this sheet of stamps.”

Stamps representing the Chinatowns in Belfast, Glasgow and Manchester are adorned with traditional Chinese dragons, with London and Cardiff the other cities featured. The sheet also features four large illustrations of red and orange snakes winding their way around the outside of the sheet.

The stamps follow on from the huge success of Royal Mail’s first ‘Lunar New Year: Year of the Dragon’ sheet from 2012.

London boasts one of the oldest Chinese communities in the UK with records showing some of the earliest settlers in Bow, east London.

Today there are significant Chinese communities in cities all across the country, most notably; London; Manchester; Birmingham; Liverpool; Sheffield and Edinburgh – with most featuring a Chinatown - an area rich in Chinese culture and business. The original Chinatown was situated in Liverpool – however this was destroyed during the Second World War.

A Statistical Bulletin published in May 2011 for the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated the Chinese population in the UK as 451,500.

Cantonese is the predominant language spoken by Chinese living in the UK, followed by Mandarin Chinese and Hakka Chinese.

Natasha Ayivor
Royal Mail Press Office
100 Victoria Embankment
London EC4Y 0HQ
Tel: 0207 449 8250

The Lunar New Year Commemorative Sheet is available in 350 local Post Offices across the UK, online at and from Royal Mail Tallents House (tel. 08457 641 641), 21 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9PB.

For Chinese customers, the sheets can be purchased from Emily Lee at Stanley Gibbons on or from Stanley Gibbons (Asia) Ltd.,10/F Central Building, 1-3 Pedder Street, Central, Hong Kong.

For almost 50 years, Royal Mail’s Special Stamp programme has commemorated and celebrated events and anniversaries pertinent to UK heritage and life. Today, there are an estimated 2.5 million stamp collectors and gifters in the UK and millions worldwide. Her Majesty the Queen approves all UK stamp designs before they are printed.

Stamps and stamp products are available at all Post Office Branches, online at and from Royal Mail Tallents House (tel. 08457 641 641), 21 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9PB.