Untitled Document

Refugee Relief Stamps and Covers

Refugee Relief stamps

The SERVICE and definitive stamps that replaced the multitude of different overprints

From the 15th of November 1971, until the 31st of March 1973, India levied a 5 paise surcharge on all mails, except postal cards and newspapers. This surcharge was due to the influx of refugees to India from Bangladesh, the former East Pakistan, and was to help finance part of the relief efforts.

In order to collect the surcharge it was necessary to make the necessary stamps available throughout India as soon as possible. To facilitate such, several different overprints were prepared until a Relief stamp could be made available. To make the surcharge applicable throughout the country immediately, postmasters were authorized to overprint several different stamps locally. Thus, in addition to the several standard machine overprints, a multitude of varieties exist with rubber stamp overprints.


Nasik Security Press, the printer of Indian postage stamps, prepared an overprint that was to be distributed throughout all of India. The overprint is in black and was applied to the 5 paise Family Planning stamp , issued on October 16, 1967, which was a part of the larger fifth definitive set, issued over a ten year period (1965-1975).
The bilingual overprint simply reads “REFUGEE RELIEF” in English and Hindi, with the English running vertically in one line on the right side of the stamp, and the Hindi in two lines horizontally towards the left.

Five other machine overprints are listed in all major catalogs and each was done for a specific geographic area or areas.

Determining which overprints are genuine is the major question facing anyone collecting this material. I have learned that much material is disputed and as soon as you feel you know if something is genuine or not, someone comes along and tells you just the opposite. I would appreciate any comments on any of this material from other collectors.

I have a great deal more material to scan and post, so please bear with me.

The Following Thirteen Overprints are Common Forgeries and can generally be purchased all over the world. Since most dealers have no knowledge of this specific issue they are almost always sold as genuine overprints. Other forgeries also exist.

Nasik Press
All India Overprint errors

Bangalore printed on back Bangalore inverted and shifted

Refugee Relief Revenue stamp
Refugee Relief Revenue stamp

Nasik printer's waste


Postal Stationery Errors

Express Delivery Covers and Stationery

More Refugee Relief