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Encyclopedia > Postcode

UK and Australian postal codes are known as postcodes. The term is also used in some other English-speaking countries, such as South Africa, New Zealand, and Singapore, although often with the alternative spelling post code. A postal code is a series of letters and/or digits appended to a postal address for the purpose of sorting mail. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ...

Contents


UK Postcodes

UK postcodes are alphanumeric. These codes were introduced by the Royal Mail over a fifteen year period from 1959 to 1974. They have been widely adopted not just for their original purpose of automating the sorting of mail but for many other purposes — see Postcode lottery below. Royal Mail is the national postal service in the United Kingdom. ... UK and Australian postal codes are known as postcodes. ...


However, as the format of the codes does not achieve its objective of primarily identifying the main sorting office and sub-office they have been supplemented by a newer system of five digit codes called Mailsort. Mail users who can deliver mail to the post office sorted by mailsort code receive discounts, whilst delivery by postcode provides no such incentive. Mailsort is a five-digit address-coding scheme used internally by the Royal Mail (the UKs postal service) for the automatic direction of mail. ...


Format

The format of UK postcodes is generally:

LD DLL
LLD DLL
LDD DLL
LLDD DLL
LLDL DLL
LDL DLL

where L signifies a letter and D a digit. It is a hierarchical system, working from left to right — the first letter or pair of letters represents the area, the following digit or digits represent the district within that area, and so on. Each postcode generally represents a street, part of a street, or a single premises.


The part of the code before the space is the outward code used to direct mail from one sorting office to the destination sorting office (the alphabetic part identifying one of 124 postal districts), while the part after the space is the inward code used to sort the mail into individual postmen's delivery rounds, each separate code usually identifying the address to within 80 properties, although large businesses may have a unique code.


The letters in the outward code can only be one of a set of known combinations, which usually gives some clue to its geographical location (but see London below). For example, BS indicates Bristol and G indicates Glasgow; see List of postal codes in the United Kingdom for a full list. Although BT indicates Belfast, it covers the whole of Northern Ireland. The letters in the inward code, however, are restricted to the set ABDEFGHJLNPQRSTUWXYZ (so cannot be one of CIKMOV), which generally do not resemble digits or each other when hand-written. Bristol is an English city and county and one of the three administrative centres of South West England (the others being Plymouth and Exeter). ... Glasgow (or Glaschu in Gaelic) is Scotlands largest city and unitary council, situated on the River Clyde in the countrys west central lowlands. ... The term postcode in the UK is used rather loosely for any component of a postcode. ... Belfast (Béal Feirste in Irish) is a city in the United Kingdom, and the second-largest city on the island of Ireland. ... Royal motto: Quis separabit (Latin: Who will separate?) Northern Irelands location within the UK Official languages English, Irish, Ulster Scots Capital and largest city Belfast First Minister Office suspended Area  - Total Ranked 4th 13,843 km² Population  - Total (2001)  - Density Ranked 4th 1,685,267 122/km² NUTS 1...


There is one exception (other than the overseas territories) to this format; the postcode for the formerly Post Office-owned Girobank is GIR 0AA. Small-town post office and town hall in Lockhart, Alabama A post office is a facility (in most countries, a government one) where the public can purchase postage stamps for mailing correspondence or merchandise, and also drop off or pick up packages or other special-delivery items. ... Girobank was founded in 1968 and originally was known as National Girobank. ...


London postcodes

Main article: London postal district. // The system of London postal districts predated the introduction of postcodes throughout the United Kingdom in the 1960s. ...


In the London area postcodes are slightly different, being based on the old system of 163 London postal districts and predating by many years the introduction of postcodes in the 1960s: Part of the London skyline viewed from the South Bank London is the most populous city in the European Union, with an estimated population on 1 January 2005 of 7,421,328 and a metropolitan area population of between 12 and 14 million. ... // The system of London postal districts predated the introduction of postcodes throughout the United Kingdom in the 1960s. ... The 1960s in its most obvious sense refers to the decade between 1960 and 1969, but the expression has taken on a wider meaning over the past twenty years. ...

  • In central London, WC and EC (West Central and East Central)
  • In the rest of London, N, NW, SW, SE, W and E.

The London postal districts rarely coincide with the boundaries of the London boroughs (even the older, smaller metropolitan boroughs). The numbering system also appears arbitrary on the map: for example, NW1 is close to central London, but NW2 is a long way out. This is because (after starting with 1 for the area containing the main sorting office) they were numbered alphabetically by the name of the main sorting office. The administrative area of Greater London contains 32 London Boroughs, of which 12 (plus the City of London) make up Inner London and 20 Outer London. ...


The area covered by the London postal districts was somewhat larger than the County of London and included parts of Kent, Essex, Surrey, Middlesex and Hertfordshire. In 1965 the creation of Greater London caused this situation to be reversed as the boundaries of Greater London went far beyond the existing London postal districts. The County of London (in red), super imposed upon todays Greater London area, to show the difference in size with post-1965 Borough boundaries The County of London was an administrative county of England from 1888 to 1965. ... Kent is a county in England, south-east of London. ... Essex is a county in the East of England. ... Surrey is a county in southern England, part of the South East England region and one of the Home Counties. ... Middlesex as a traditional county before 1888. ... Hertfordshire (pronounced Hartfordshire and abbreviated as Herts) is an inland county in the United Kingdom, officially part of the East of England Government region. ... 1965 (MCMLXV) was a common year starting on Friday (link goes to calendar). ... Greater London is the top level administrative subdivision covering London, England. ...


Those places not covered by the existing districts received postcodes as part of the national coding plan such that the postcode areas of "EN" Enfield, "KT" Kingston upon Thames, "HA" Harrow, "UB" Uxbridge", "TW" Twickenham, "SM" Sutton, "CR" Croydon, "TN" Tonbridge, "DA" Dartford, "BR" Bromley, "RM" Romford and "IG" Ilford cross administrative boundaries and cover parts of neighbouring counties as well as parts of London. Enfield is the name of several places. ... Kingston upon Thames, part of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, is an ancient market town where Saxon kings were crowned, and is now a lively suburb of London. ... Alternative meanings: Harrow, London, a place in the London Borough of Harrow; Harrow School, a famous public school in the United Kingdom; The Harrow, a fantasy and horror magazine. ... Uxbridge is a place in the London Borough of Hillingdon in west London. ... Twickenham is a town in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames in the south-west of London It is best known as the home of Twickenham Stadium - the headquarters of the Rugby Football Union. ... Sutton is the principal town in the London Borough of Sutton. ... Croydon is a major suburban town and commercial centre situated 9. ... Location within the British Isles Tonbridge is a market town in the English county of Kent, with a population of 31,600 in 2001. ... Dartford is the principal town in the borough of Dartford. ... Bromley is the principal town in the London Borough of Bromley. ... Romford is a place in East London. ... Ilford is a town in the London Borough of Redbridge in East London. ...


A further complication is that in some of the most central London areas, a further gradation has been necessary to produce enough postcodes, giving unusual codes like EC1A 1AA.


While most postcodes are allocated by administrative convenience, a few are deliberately chosen. For example in Westminster: Westminster is the area located immediately to the west of the ancient City of London, in the centre of the wider conurbation of London. ...

The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and is now the dominant branch of Parliament. ... This article is about the British House of Lords. ... The Palace of Westminster, known also as the Houses of Parliament, is where the two Houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (the House of Lords and the House of Commons) conduct their sittings. ... Buckingham Palace and the Victoria Memorial. ... 10 Downing Street, commonly known as Number 10, is arguably the most famous street address in London. ... In the United Kingdom, the Prime Minister is the head of government, exercising many of the executive functions nominally vested in the Sovereign, who is head of state. ... The First Lord of the Treasury is the head of the commission exercising the ancient office of Lord High Treasurer in the United Kingdom, usually but not always the Prime Minister. ... 11 Downing Street (commonly known as Number 11), is the official residence of the Second Lord of the Treasury, who in modern times has always been the British Chancellor of the Exchequer. ... The Rt. ... The new eastern entrance to HM Treasury HM Treasury (Her/His Majestys Treasury) is the United Kingdom government department responsible for and putting into effect the UK Governments financial and economic policy. ...

Postcode lottery

Postcodes were devised solely for the purposes of sorting and directing mail and rarely coincide with political boundaries. However, over time they have become a geographical reference in their own right with postcodes and postcode groups becoming synonymous with certain towns and districts. Further to this, the postcode has been used by organisations for other applications including government statistics, marketing, calculation of car and household insurance premiums and credit referencing.


There are several groups, mostly on the fringes of major population centres, who are affected in one way or another by the associations of their postcode. There is a movement in Windsor and Maidenhead to change the first two characters of their postcodes from "SL" to "WM" for vanity as it is associated with Slough. A business man in Ilford wishes to have the postcode of IG1 changed to E19 as he claims customers do not realise his business based there is in London. Slough (pronounced ) is a town and unitary authority in the county of Berkshire in the south of England. ... Ilford is a town in the London Borough of Redbridge in East London. ... IG1 is the postcode for Ilford in the London Borough of Redbridge in East London. ...


Residents of West Heath in SE2 wish to have their postcodes changed to that of adjacent Bexleyheath citing higher insurance premiums as reason to change. Some residents of Kingston Vale in SW15 wish to have their postcodes changed to adjacent Kingston upon Thames for the same reasons. Residents of Denham, Buckinghamshire have postcodes associated with Uxbridge which causes confusion to delivery drivers. SE2 is the postcode for Abbey Wood in the London Borough of Greenwich. ... Bexleyheath is a place in the London Borough of Bexley. ... Kingston Vale is a place in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames. ... SW15 is the postcode for Putney in the London Borough of Wandsworth The post town for this postcode is LONDON. Robert Louis Stevenson once lived here. ... Kingston upon Thames, part of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, is an ancient market town where Saxon kings were crowned, and is now a lively suburb of London. ... Denham is a village in Buckinghamshire, England. ... Uxbridge is a place in the London Borough of Hillingdon in west London. ...


In all these cases Royal Mail has said that there is "virtually no hope" of changing their postcode referring to their policy of only changing postcodes to match changes in their operations. [1] However, under this policy residents of Wirral had their postcodes changed from the "L" (Liverpool) to "CH" (Chester) group when a new sorting office was opened. [2] Wirral is a metropolitan borough in Merseyside, North West England, which occupies part of the Wirral peninsula, more commonly known locally as The Wirral. ...


Some postcode areas straddle England's border with Wales and Scotland. Examples of such postcodes include CH4, HR3, SY10, NP16 and TD15. This has led to Sky Television subscribers receiving the wrong BBC and ITV regions, and newly-licensed radio amateurs being given incorrect callsigns. Royal motto (French): Dieu et mon droit (Translated: God and my right) Englands location within the UK Official language English de facto Capital London de facto Largest city London Area - Total Ranked 1st UK 130,395 km² Population - Total (mid-2004) - Density Ranked 1st UK 50. ... National motto: Cymru am byth (Welsh: Wales for ever) Waless location within the UK Official languages English, Welsh Capital Cardiff Largest city Cardiff First Minister Rhodri Morgan Area  - Total Ranked 3rd UK 20,779 km² Population  - Total (2001)  - Density Ranked 3rd UK 2,903,085 140/km² Ethnicity: 97. ... Transport in Scotland Timeline of Scottish history Caledonia List of not fully sovereign nations Subdivisions of Scotland National parks (Scotland) Traditional music of Scotland Flower of Scotland Wars of Scottish Independence National Trust for Scotland Historic houses in Scotland Castles in Scotland Museums in Scotland Abbeys and priories in Scotland... British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB - formerly two companies, Sky Television plc and British Satellite Broadcasting) is a company that operates Sky Digital, the most popular subscription television service in the UK and Ireland. ... Mrs. ...


Other cities' postcodes

Until the 1960s, cities such as Belfast, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne and Sheffield were divided into different postal districts, each with a number, e.g. Toxteth in Liverpool was Liverpool 8. When the national postcode system was introduced, these were incorporated into it, so that postcodes in Toxteth would start with L8, followed by the rest of the postcode. A similar system is still used in the Republic of Ireland for Dublin's postal districts. The 1960s in its most obvious sense refers to the decade between 1960 and 1969, but the expression has taken on a wider meaning over the past twenty years. ... Belfast (Béal Feirste in Irish) is a city in the United Kingdom, and the second-largest city on the island of Ireland. ... The city from above Centenary Square. ... Edinburghs location in Scotland Edinburgh viewed from Arthurs Seat. ... Glasgow (or Glaschu in Gaelic) is Scotlands largest city and unitary council, situated on the River Clyde in the countrys west central lowlands. ... Leeds Coat Of Arms Map sources for Leeds at grid reference SE297338 Leeds is a city in the metropolitan borough of the City of Leeds in the West Riding of Yorkshire in the north of England. ... Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough in Northwest England. ... Manchester is a city in the North West of England. ... This article is about a city in the United Kingdom. ... This article is about the city in England. ... Map sources for Toxteth at grid reference SJ355885 Huskisson Street, Liverpool Toxteth is an area of inner-city Liverpool, England, starting approximately a mile south from the city centre. ... Dublin (Irish: Baile Átha Cliath), is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Ireland, located near the midpoint of Irelands east coast, at the mouth of the River Liffey and at the centre of the Dublin Region. ... Dublin postal districts are used by Irelands postal service, known as An Post, to sort mail in the Dublin area. ...


Validation

The consequence of the complexity outlined above is that for almost every rule concerning UK postcodes, an exception can be found which breaks that rule. Automatic validation of postcodes on the basis of pattern feasibility is therefore almost impossible to design, and the system contains no self-validating feature such as a check digit. Validation is usually performed against a copy of the "Postcode Address File" (PAF), which is generated by the Royal Mail and contains about 27 million UK commercial and residential addresses. However, even the PAF can not be relied on as it contains errors and because new postcodes are occasionally created and used before copies of the PAF can be distributed to users. The Postcode Address File (PAF) is a data file available from the Royal Mail. ... Royal Mail is the national postal service in the United Kingdom. ...


It is possible to validate the format of a postcode using the following rules:

  • The postcode must be of 5, 6, 7, or 8 characters in length.
  • The outward code (the set of characters to the left of the space) must be 2, 3 or 4 characters in length
  • The first character of the outward code must be alphabetic.
  • The inward code (the set of characters to the right of the space) must always be 3 characters in length.
  • The first character of the inward code must be numeric.
  • The second and third characters of the inward code must be alphabetic.

A regular expression that validates the format rather loosely is A regular expression (abbreviated as regexp, regex, or regxp, with plural forms regexps, regexes, or regexen) is a string that describes or matches a set of strings, according to certain syntax rules. ...

 /^[A-Z]{1,2}[0-9]{1,2}[A-Z]? ?[0-9][ABDEFGHJLNPQRSTUWXYZ]{2}$/i 

All valid postcodes (except GIR 0AA and some of the Overseas Territories postcodes) will match this, but several invalid postcodes will also match.


Whilst, a more complete regular expression is: A regular expression (abbreviated as regexp, regex, or regxp, with plural forms regexps, regexes, or regexen) is a string that describes or matches a set of strings, according to certain syntax rules. ...

 ^([A-PR-UWYZ][A-HK-Y0-9][AEHMNPRTVXY0-9]?[ABEHMNPRVWXY0-9]? {1,2}[0-9][ABD-HJLN-UW-Z]{2}|GIR 0AA)$ 

However, this too is not completely accurate and will match a few invalid postcodes. The definitive regular expression to use is: A regular expression (abbreviated as regexp, regex, or regxp, with plural forms regexps, regexes, or regexen) is a string that describes or matches a set of strings, according to certain syntax rules. ...

 /^([A-PR-UWYZ]dd? d[ABD-HJLNP-UW-Z]{2})|([A-PR-UWYZ][A-HK-Y]dd? d[ABD-HJLNP-UW-Z]{2})|([A-PR-UWYZ]d[A-HJKSTUW] d[ABD-HJLNP-UW-Z]{2})|([A-PR-UWYZ][A-HK-Y]d[A-HJKSTUW] d[ABD-HJLNP-UW-Z]{2})|(GIR 0AA)$/ 

Application

The PAF is commercially licenseable and is often incorporated in address management software packages. The capabilities of such packages allow an address to be constructed solely from the postcode and house number for most addresses. By including the map references of postcodes in the address database, the postcode can be used automatically to pinpoint a postcode area on a map. See http://www.streetmap.co.uk for an example of this in practice. The Postcode Address File (PAF) is a data file available from the Royal Mail. ...


Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland was the last part of the UK to be postcoded, between 1970 and 1974. While Belfast was already divided into postal districts, rural areas, known as townlands, posed an additional problem, as many roads were not named, and houses were, similarly, not numbered. Consequently, many people living in such areas shared the same postal address, which still occurs in the Republic of Ireland. Royal motto: Quis separabit (Latin: Who will separate?) Northern Irelands location within the UK Official languages English, Irish, Ulster Scots Capital and largest city Belfast First Minister Office suspended Area  - Total Ranked 4th 13,843 km² Population  - Total (2001)  - Density Ranked 4th 1,685,267 122/km² NUTS 1... 1970 (MCMLXX) was a common year starting on Thursday. ... 1974 (MCMLXXIV) is a common year starting on Tuesday (click on link for calendar). ... A townland is the lowest-level geographical unit of land used in Ireland, smaller than a Parish or County. ...


Crown Dependencies

The Channel Islands (Jersey and Guernsey) and the Isle of Man established their own separate postal administrations from the UK in 1969, and did not adopt postcodes until the early 1990s. Their postcodes follow the UK format, with Jersey being postcode area JE, Guernsey GY, and Isle of Man IM. The Channel Islands are a group of islands off the coast of Normandy, France, in the English Channel. ... 1969 (MCMLXIX) was a common year starting on Wednesday For other uses, see Number 1969. ... // Events and trends The 1990s in its most obvious sense refers to the years 1990 to 1999, but has held a strong influence into the 2000s. ...


Overseas Territories

Some of the UK's overseas territories have their own postcodes: A United Kingdom overseas territory (formerly known as a dependent territory or earlier as a crown colony) is a territory that is under the sovereignty and formal control of the United Kingdom but is not part of the United Kingdom proper (almost exclusively Great Britain and Northern Ireland). ...

Unlike UK postcodes, these are used for all addresses in those territories. The reason why they were introduced is because mail was often sent to the wrong place, e.g: St Helena to St Helens, Merseyside, and even Ascension Island to Asunción, Paraguay. In addition, many online companies would not accept addresses without a postcode. Mail from the UK continues to be treated as international, not inland, and sufficient postage must be used. Ascension Island from space, December 1990 Ascension Island is an island in the South Atlantic Ocean, and includes tiny satellite islands and rocks such as Boatswain Bird Island, Boatswain Bird Rock (East), White Rocks (South), and Tartar Rock (West, at the shore of Georgetown). ... Flag of the British Antarctic Territory The British Antarctic Territory is the British claim to land and islands in Antarctica, and is the oldest territorial claim on the continent. ... Motto: Leo Terram Propriam Protegat Official language English Capital Grytviken Civil Commisioner Howard Pearce Area  - Total  - % water not ranked 3,093 km² - Population  - Total (2003 E)  - Density not ranked ~100 n/a; Currency Falkland pound (FKP; fixed to GBP) Time zone UTC -4 (DST -3) National anthem God Save the... Tristan da Cunha is a remote island in the south Atlantic Ocean, at 37°8′ S 12°28′ W. It is a dependency of St. ... St Helens is a town in Merseyside in North West England and traditionally part of Lancashire. ... Map of Paraguay Panteón de los Héroes in Asunción Asunción, population 500,939 (1992), is the capital of Paraguay. ...


Postcode history

A Royal Mail Information Sheet (see External links below) describes how postcode trials were conducted in Norwich and Croydon. (It is possible that these two towns were selected because they had the letter O in their names at positions where the designers were thinking of using a digit. For example they may have had in mind for Norwich the Canadian format of LDL DLD.) Norwich was completely re-coded but the scheme tested in Croydon was sufficiently close to the final design for it to be retained. UK and Australian postal codes are known as postcodes. ... Norwich (pronounced variously Norritch or Norridge) is a city in East Anglia, in Eastern England, and the regional administrative centre and county town of Norfolk. ... Arms of Croydon London Borough Council Croydon is a major suburban town and commercial centre in South London. ...


Another early adopter of postcodes was Newport. Here, Newport itself was allocated NPT, in a similar way to Norwich and Croydon, with the surrounding towns allocated NP1-NP8. This lasted into the mid '80s when for operational reasons (NPT being non-standard, and too similar to NP7) it was finally recoded. Newport (Welsh: Casnewydd) is the third largest city in Wales (after Cardiff and Swansea). ...


The legacy of the Croydon trial can still be seen today:

  • CR0 was the only postal district with a zero in that position when all others started at 1. This caused one of the PAF (see above) software products produced by the Royal Mail themselves to misbehave slightly! Subsequently, the "zeroth" district has been used in some other postcode areas, such as Blackburn and Harrow.
  • A separate postal "district", CR9 is used for large users and PO Box holders. This policy has been used elsewhere, with normal postcodes "growing" upwards from district 1 and large user postcodes "growing" downwards from district 99.
  • The CR0 district contains far more addresses than any other postal district in the country.
  • CR1 has never been used — possibly left spare for rationalisation. (The other CR districts, CR2, etc. were coded later and conform to the general standards.)
  • There was at one point a movement to change all CR0 postcodes to CR1, but this was rejected.
  • CR0 is often incorrectly written as CRO, although in some type faces the digit '0' and letter 'O' are often identical.

Australian Postcodes

Australian postcodes are numeric, consisting of four digits. They were introduced in 1967 by the Postmaster-General's Department (PMG), the predecessor of Australia Post. See this link for a history of the PMG / Australia Post : http://www.auspost.com.au/BCP/0,1080,CH2070%257EMO19,00.html Australia Post is the government-owned postal service of Australia. ...


See List of postal codes in Australia for more information. Postal codes were introduced in Australia in the early 1970s when Australia Post introduced automated sorting. ...


South African Postcodes

South African post codes are numeric, consisting of four digits. For a list of postal codes or to search by Location or Post Code see South African Post Office.


See also

ACORN is a geodemographic classification system developed by CACI Limited. ... Australia Post is the government-owned postal service of Australia. ... The British Forces Post Office (BFPO) is an agency that provides a postal service to HM Forces, separate from that provided by Royal Mail in the United Kingdom. ... P² People & Places is a geodemographic classification system for the United Kingdom developed by Beacon Dodsworth Limited. ... A post town is a required part of all UK postal addresses. ... Shortcut: UK topics This is a list of topics related to the United Kingdom. ... Mr. ... The United States of America — also referred to as the United States, the U.S.A., the U.S., America, the States, or (archaically) Columbia—is a federal republic of 50 states located primarily in central North America (with the exception of two states: Alaska and Hawaii). ... For lists of individual countries postal and ZIP Codes around the world, please refer to the lists of postal codes index. ... An envelope is a packaging product, usually made of flat, planar material such as paper or cardboard, designed to contain a flat object such as a letter. ...

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
HM Revenue & Customs:Stamp Taxes - (285 words)
You can use this postcode search tool to help you to establish whether your property is situated in a qualifying area for disadvantaged areas relief.
This postcode search tool is provided for guidance only and any indication given does not override the statutory rules which establish the qualifying areas.
The search tool may not identify every postcode which is situated in a statutory qualifying area, particularly (but not exclusively) in the case of newly-built properties.
Postcode (413 words)
Each postcode generally represents a street, part of a street, or a single premises.
London postcodes are slightly different, being based on the old system of London postal districts, which predated by many years the introduction of postcodes in the 1960s:
Validation is usually performed against a copy of the "Postcode Address File", which is generated by the Royal Mail[?] and contains every UK address and postcode.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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