The price of a postage stamp for a standard letter is to increase by 10 cent to €1.10 from the end of this month, An Post has confirmed.

It is the first increase in the price of a standard stamp in more than four years.

The price hikes - which will also see an increase in the standard international letter price to €2.00 from €1.70 - come into effect on May 27.

However, An Post clarified that all existing national 'N' rate stamps would automatically represent €1.10 postage from that date, while Worldwide ‘W’ stamps would cover the €2.00 international letter rate.

The price increases were originally signalled in February of last year but were subsequently postponed as part of the semi-state's public service measures during the pandemic.

While parcel volumes surged in 2020, the decline in traditional letter volumes continued to put upward pressure on the unit cost, the company said.

In addition, a marked reduction in flights out of Ireland during the Covid-19 crisis, as well as between international destinations, resulted in a four-fold increase in freight costs for An Post in the past year.

"The new international rates including a new Zone for Australia and New Zealand do not fully cover these costs, but freight charges are expected to fall as restrictions lift and more flights become available," An Post said.

Chief executive of An Post David McRedmond said the introduction of a price increase for postage stamps was delayed for 14 months as a measure of social solidarity with the public during the pandemic.

Mr McRedmond told RTÉ's Morning Ireland that the price increase will come into effect in one month's time but will not impact the price of parcels.

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He said the price increase is the first in four years and will allow a vital public service to be invested in and be sustainable into the future.

Mr McRedmond said that in the last few years An Post had invested in automation, electric vehicles, and new products and services, the benefits of which were seen in the last year when it managed to keep its postal networks fully open.

He said that 99% of routes and services were maintained during the pandemic, which cost the company €50m in replacing staff and paying for personal protective equipment. He said this was all funded from its balance sheet.

Mr McRedmond said this price increase is part of managing its core economics responsibly.

Support for SMEs

An Post has also announced that its extending its temporary Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) supports to the end of 2021.

That includes discounts of 34% on parcels and 5% on mail through the An Post Advantage Card.

Free postage to and from care homes and free newspaper delivery for older customers will also continue until the end of the year, it said.

There will also be no increase in charges for sending Registered Mail, large envelopes and packets within Ireland.

And while large mailers will continue to receive discounts for high volume postings, bulk mail rates will increase by 5 cent and meter rates by 10 cent.

"These increases are necessary for An Post to accelerate its successful transformation into a modern network delivering to every community across the country," An Post CEO David McRedmond said.

"The increases are being implemented in conjunction with our policy of fair, cost-reflective pricing for our products and services," Garrett Bridgeman, Managing Director, An Post Commerce added.

"Mindful of the impact on customers, we will continue to offer stamp promotions for personal mail and practical discounts and commercial supports for the business community as it rebuilds," he added.