Glossary Terms

Issued on special United Nations themes, aid in focusing attention on specific subjects of worldwide concern. Peacekeeping, the environment, world health and human rights have been featured on UN commemorative stamps. Commemorative stamps are available for only one year after the issue date.

The United Nations philatelic items most in demand, Special Souvenir Sheets, are issued, for instance, in honour of every fifth anniversary of the United Nations. Other souvenir sheets are issued from time to time. The duration of sale is one year.

Have special design elements and are issued in sheets of fewer than 16 stamps which are available for 12 months from the date of issue.

Included in the stamp programme from time to time. Befitting the central theme of an issue, a stamp series will last for a number of years and constitutes a mini-collection within the vast spread of a United Nations stamp collection. Stamp series have been issued on the themes of Human Rights, Endangered Species, Flags of the Member States of the United Nations, Indigenous Art and World Heritage. The period of sale of these stamps differs from one series to another, i.e. between 12 and 24 months.

“Regular” stamps for general mailing purposes, issued sporadically to meet current postal rates and remain on sale for an indefinite period. When required, additional quantities of these stamps can be obtained through reprinting.

Issued sporadically to meet prevailing postal rates and remain on sale for an indefinite period. When required, additional quantities of these postal stationery items can be obtained through reprinting.

Envelopes affixed with stamps and cancelled with the date of their first day of issue are produced for each new stamp issue. For the three offices, New York, Geneva and Vienna, there is one “official” first day cover designed for each new stamp issue. The covers, bearing the new stamps and first day cancellations, are available as of the day of the stamp issue in some or all of the following options:

  • Single (and pair for New York only)
  • M.I. block of 4
  • Combination – 2 or more stamps
  • Jumbo – complete miniature sheet
  • Triple-cancelled – stamps from all three offices

These covers can be obtained for a period of 180 days from date of issue while supplies last.

Souvenir cards are generally issued accompanying a commemorative stamp issue. The card reproduces the new issue stamps as well as stamps from previous issues on related themes. Cards are available in mint condition or with the lowest value in each denomination of the new issue affixed and cancelled first day of issue as appropriate, and a message from the Secretary-General is included. Souvenir cards remain on sale for 6 months.

Maximum cards are issued occasionally together with a commemorative stamp issue. The cards are available mint as well as with the new issue stamp affixed and cancelled first day of issue as appropriate. Maximum cards are available for a period of three months.

Annual collection folders are available in mint and cancelled condition (cancelled with the regular stamp of the last issue of the year). They contain one single of each commemorative and definitive stamp and souvenir sheet issued in the year and are released simultaneously with the last issue of the year. Pages include a technical information about each issue, with special spaces in each folder to affix the stamps. A separate folder is issued for each of the three currencies ( New York, Geneva and Vienna stamps) and the folders are available for a period of two years while supplies last. Individual folders are released at varying times for commemorative stamp series such as the Endangered Species (available mint and cancelled first day of issue) and the Flag Series and are on sale for differing periods of time.

Issued infrequently in three different currencies. A prestige booklet is a multi-page booklet which includes a variety of stamps on a common theme. Background information on the theme is provided through appropriate text and illustrations. The first such booklets were produced in 1995. They are available in mint and cancelled condition and are available for sale for a period of 24 months from date of issue subject to stock availability. The stamps contained in a prestige booklet and are not available individually and are also not included in the Annual Collection Folders.

Released to commemorate UNPA’s attendance at stamp shows throughout the world ( New York only if the attendance coincides with a first day of issue). Each card has a United Nations stamp affixed and cancelled as appropriate. A special “show cachet” is also imprinted on each card. The cards are available for six months from the date of release.

Special subscription category devoted to products such as envelopes, special event sheets, philatelic folders which have been created through the cooperative efforts of UNPA and another national postal administration, as well as all other special philatelic items. Products in this category are generally produced in limited quantities and thus have differing periods of sale.

It normally consist of the United Nations emblem and an appropriate text in four positions on each sheet of stamps. As a rule, a block with marginal inscription can be obtained only with a minimum order of:

(a) 4 stamps of commemorative issues;
(b) 4 stamps of definitive issues, irrespective of face value.

Space is provided on the subscription form for you to indicate your preferred M.I. positions.


Used in designs of United Nations stamps from time to time, such as se-tenant pairs, se-tenant blocks of four or se-tenant strips of five stamps. To accommodate the special needs of customers for these formats, a new standing order category has been added which allows you to place a separate standing order for your se-tenant requirements. This special requirement will supercede your usual commemorative stamp standing order. As an example, if an issue consists of a sheet of 25 stamps in a se-tenant strip of 5 format and you indicate that you want to receive six se-tenant units, you will be provided with one full sheet and one se-tenant strip of five stamps.

These are undertaken as and when necessary. Due to customer interest in reprints, a new category for these items, in mint and cancelled condition, has also been added to the standing order subscription.

This product is available only to visitors to the UN building in New York. The sheet contains 10 UN stamps pin-perforated with blank tabs next to each stamp. There are five stamp designs depicting classic UN, New York images repeating four times on the sheet. The blank tab is used to capture and print your photo image.

Collectors who are unable to visit the UNPA’s Personalized Stamp Shop in the public visitor area of Headquarters, New York, can purchase through the mail a generic personalized stamp sheet. On the blank tab where the photo image is printed, several generic images of the UN are printed.

In conjunction with certain stamp shows, the UNPA creates special personalized sheets. On the blank tab where the photo image is printed and in the gutter, special designs from a particular stamp show such a postmark imprint or a logo for a stamp show is printed.

For each stamp issue the UNPA creates a specially designed cachet cover. These covers are used to create official first day covers. The cachet design usual appears on the left side of the front of the cachet cover.

A collection of cancelled United Nations stamps on such themes as Endangered Species, Peace, Human Rights, Flags, Space and Ocean.

* not subject to reprint