Royal Mail has launched a new online service which will allow customers to purchase their postage online.
Under the new scheme, people wanting to send a letter or parcel will be able to select the appropriate amount of postage payable on their item via the internet and then pay by debit or credit card for delivery.
Each item of mail processed through the internet will receive a unique barcode, which online customers can then print off and attach to their letter or parcel prior to posting.
It is hoped that the online service, which will apply to first-class, second-class and international deliveries, will save customers having to queue at post offices to purchase stamps.
Postage purchased online will cost no more than that which uses ordinary stamps.
Announcing the new internet service, Royal Mail said that online postage would provide its customers with "more choice and flexibility" in the way they pay to send their mail.
"We have launched this service in response to demands from the general public who want to be able to buy and print their postage online, direct on to an envelope or a label," said Royal Mail marketing director Alex Batchelor.
"The service is perfect for busy people, but it is also aimed at home workers who post small quantities of mail on a regular basis as well as people who sell goods via auction websites," he added.
The launch of the Royal Mail's online postage service comes as the state-owned postal operator struggles to compete against private competition after losing its monopoly on postal deliveries at the beginning of this year.