Fight Against the Illegal Stamp Issues

WADP - World Association for the Development of Philately

World Numbering System

The Universal Postal Union has introduced the WNS,  the WADP Numbering System which is being managed by the WADP Secretariat for the members of the World Association for the Development of Philately (WADP) which are all the UPU members and their philatelic partners. The WNS is considered to be the optimal method for ensuring the authenticity of the officially issued postage stamps of the postal administrations of the member countries of the Universal Postal Union. The WNS constitutes a major breakthrough in the philatelic world as it is aimed at protecting collectively the interests of the stamp issuing country, the stamp collector and philatelist and the stamp trade.

The WNS is a system whereby every postage stamp issued by the postal administrations of the UPU member countries is registered and given a unique number. Consequently, all officially issued postage stamps as of 1 January 2002 will be assigned by the WADP Secretariat a WNS number composed of the ISO Alpha 2-letter code of the postal administration concerned and a number which will be a function of the date of issue of its stamp and the receipt of these stamps at the Universal Postal Union Headquarters.
The scanned stamps, a brief description of them and their WNS numbers will be made known to all interested parties and partners of the WADP, stamp catalogues, the philatelic press for ease of reference. The information will also appear on UPU's website.

What are the advantages of the WNS?
* By numbering every legal stamp issued from 1 January 2002, and making this information available to the philatelic industry, a control mechanism will be created which will act as the point of reference against which issues can be verified.
* The creation of a bone fide, central register of authentic issues will serve to encourage the legal philatelic market and, conversely, curb the market of illegal issues. Raising awareness of what is and what is not a legal issue will have a cleansing effect on the philatelic industry.

The WNS Number is not intended to replace the current stamp numbering systems of existing stamp catalogues. Its aim is to serve as a complement to them that will allow an easier recognition of the legitimate issues of the countries and postal administrations concerned, members of the UPU. These numbers will enable collectors to recognise from philatelic publications and catalogues what stamps have been legally issued by a country and to subsequently question those stamps which may be fraudulent.

The International Federation of Philately (FIP) is promoting with its members and collectors that any stamps issued after 1 January 2002 which are intended for exhibits for competition in world, international and regional philatelic exhibitions, these stamps must have an allocated WNS number in order for the exhibits to be eligible.

A large number of postal administrations have already committed to join the system from the start. All the partner associations of the WADP have pledged their support. We are confident that all players in the philatelic world will recognise the advantages of being part of this new system. We welcome of course any queries that anyone may have on the subject.

As the registering of each stamp has to be paid for by the issuing administration and the first fee will be for all the stamps issued over the previous year. We hope that this will prompt postal administrations to review their issuing programmes and policies in particular where the postal administration's name is associated with a great deal number of stamps.


WADP Secretariat
International Bureau of the
Universal Postal Union
Case postale
3000 BERNE 15
Tel: +41 31 350 32 15
Fax : +41 31 350 31 10/351 02 66

Note: All UPU Circulars denouncing illegal stamp issues are published on this site (click the PWO logo on the bottom of the site and follow the link Illegal Issues.

The WADP is taking measures to stem the growing tide of illegal postage stamps. Indeed, the philatelic market has been confronted, over the past few years, with a large number of stamps being produced illegally in the name of an increasing number of countries. Many such stamps has been identified as illegal because they have been issued neither with the knowledge not the authorisation of the country concerned, or they have been issued in the name of places and territories which do not qualify for the issuing of postal stamps.

The authenticity of stamps in general is being openly questioned by an increasingly large number of interested parties, both from the philatelic industry as well as from the allied industry and stakeholders. The sale of fraudulent postage stamps not only defrauds the collectors who believe they are purchasing genuinely authorised stamps, but the postal administrations concerned suffer severe losses of legitimate philatelic and postage revenue.

The problem of illegal stamps was high on the agenda of the General Assembly of the WADP which met on 12 June in Brussels, Belgium on the occasion of the BELGICA 2001 World Philatelic Exhibition. Over 60 UPU member countries together with all philatelic partner organisations (AIJP, ASCAT, IFSDA and FIP) agreed unanimously to the necessity of establishing of WADP Numbering System or WNS. This will be a comprehensive numbering system for all stamps scheduled to be issued by the postal administrations of the member countries of the Universal Postal Union after 1 January 2001. The main aim of the WNS is to ensure the authenticity of official UPU postage stamp issues, thereby strengthening their position on the stamp market for the mutual benefit of the posts, the collectors and the trade. The overriding concern is to guarantee the survival of philately and stamp collecting, not only as a business, but also as the "King of Hobbies".

Each postal stamp will be allocated a unique WNS Number composed of the ISA Alpha 2-letter code and a unique number. The number will be a function of the date of issue and receipt at the Universal Postal Union Headquarters. The WNS number is not intended to replace the current stamp numbering system of stamp catalogues, but its aim is serve as a complement that will allow all philatelic partners to easily recognise the legitimate issues of the postal administrations concerned. These numbers will enable collectors to recognise from their catalogues what stamps have been legally issued by a country and what stamps are fraudulent. The existence of the stamp and its number will be notified on a timely basis to the philatelic trade and industry.

It is hoped that this practice will assist in the reduction of excessive issues produced by some postal administrations. Postal authorities will also be able to better recognise fraudulent stamps being used on mail within the postal system.

Once the system is in force the FIP will follow-up by submitting a motion to the Congress, stipulating that any stamp issued after a certain deadline must have an allocated WNS number in order to be eligible for competitions in FIP exhibitions.

It is essential for the success of the WNS system that all partners of the philatelic industry give their wholehearted support.

Reprinted from: FLASH, No. 77, p. 25, Sept. 2001. Published by Fédération Internationale de Philatélie (FIP).

More information about the illegal issues can be obtained from the IB of the UPU, Mrs. Maria Libera.

Published: 10/13/2001. Revised: 01/23/02.
Copyright © 2001 by FIP, WADP & PWO
All rights reserved worldwide.