A stamp act is a law that puts a tax on the transfer of some documents. Those that pay the tax get an official stamp on their documents. Many products have been covered by stamp acts such as playing cards, patent medicines, cheques, mortgages, contracts and newspapers. The items often have to be physically stamped at approved government offices following payment of the duty, although other methods with annual payment of a fixed sum or purchase of adhesive stamps are more practical and common. Stamp acts have been made common in many countries, like Australia, China, Canada, Ireland, Malaysia, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The money raised by the tax, called stamp duty, was first used in the Netherlands in 1624 after a public competition to find a new form of tax. However, it has more been used in Great Britain and its colonies.