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Encyclopedia > Postcode lottery

UK postal codes are known as postcodes. They 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. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a country in western Europe, and member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the G8, the European Union, and NATO. Usually known simply as the United Kingdom, the UK, or (inaccurately) as Great Britain or Britain, the UK has four constituent... A postal code is a series of letters and/or digits appended to a postal address for the purpose of sorting mail. ... A Victorian hexagonal red post box. ... Australian postcodes are covered in the article List of postal codes in Australia. ...


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. ...

Contents

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 121 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. BT indicates Belfast, but actually specifies anywhere within 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 a port city in south-western England, on the River Avon. ... For other uses, see Glasgow (disambiguation) George Square and Glasgows City Chambers Glasgow is Scotlands largest city, located on the River Clyde in West Central Scotland. ... The British postal system runs on a system of alphanumeric codes, or Postcodes. ... This article is about the city of Belfast in Northern Ireland. ... Northern Ireland is an administrative region and one of four parts of the United Kingdom. ...


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. ...


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 London postal districts, which predated by many years the introduction of postcodes in the 1960s: London — containing the City of London — is the capital of the United Kingdom and of England and a major world city. With over seven million inhabitants (Londoners) in Greater London area, it is amongst the most densely populated areas in Western Europe. ... The system of London postal districts predated the introduction of postcodes throughout the United Kingdom in the 1960s. ... Centuries: 19th century - 20th century - 21st century Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s - 1960s - 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s Years: 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 Events and trends The 1960s was a turbulent decade of change around the world. ...

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

Note that London postal districts rarely coincide with the boundaries of London boroughs (even the old, smaller 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 closest to the centre) they were numbered alphabetically by the name of the main sorting office. The administrative area of Greater London contains 32 London Boroughs, of which twelve (plus the City of London) make up Inner London and twenty Outer London. ...


In part of outer London the postcodes follow the more conventional pattern of postcodes deriving from the main sorting office. To confuse matters further many of these parts of London have postal addresses that use the traditional county boundaries — for example postal addresses in Sutton traditionally read "Sutton, Surrey" and not "Sutton, London". The British Isles are divided into the following traditional counties (also vice counties or historic counties). ... The London Borough of Sutton is a London borough in outer southwest London. ...


Several postcode areas cross administrative boundaries, covering parts of neighbouring administrative areas as well as areas in Greater London. For example, KT (Kingston upon Thames), TW (Twickenham), SM (Sutton) and CR (Croydon) cover parts of Surrey, while DA (Dartford) and BR (Bromley) cover parts of Kent, and RM (Romford) and IG (Ilford) covers part of Essex. The administrative area of Greater London combines the City of London, the City of Westminster and 31 other London boroughs, and encompasses what is commonly known simply as London, capital of the United Kingdom. ... 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. ... 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. ... The London Borough of Sutton is a London borough in outer southwest London. ... For other Croydons see Croydon (disambiguation) Croydon is a large suburban town and commercial centre to the south of London and forms part of the Greater London conurbation. ... This is about Surrey, England. ... Dartford is a local government district and borough in Kent, England. ... Bromley is the main town in the London Borough of Bromley. ... This article is about the English county of Kent. ... Romford is a place in east London. ... Ilford is a town in North-East London, UK in the London Borough of Redbridge. ... This article is about the county of Essex in England. ...


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 name of a city that covers much of central London, located to the west of the ancient City of London, and which has been the principal seat of government in England for more than nine hundred years. ...

The House of Commons is a component of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also includes the Sovereign and the House of Lords. ... This article is about the British House of Lords. ... Clock Tower and New Palace Yard from the west The Palace of Westminster, on the banks of the River Thames in Westminster, London, is the home of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, which form the Parliament of the United Kingdom. ... Buckingham Palace and the Victoria memorial. This principal facade of 1850 by Edward Blore was redesigned in 1913 by Sir Aston Webb. ... 10 Downing Street (commonly known as Number 10), is the most famous London street address. ... 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 Right Honourable Gordon Brown, PC, MP, current Chancellor of the Exchequer The Chancellor of the Exchequer is the ancient title held by the British cabinet minister whose responsibilities are akin to the posts of Minister for Finance or Secretary of the Treasury in other jurisdictions. ... 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

In the 1930s the residents of some areas on the fringes of the London postal area were asked if they would prefer to receive their post from London or another post town. One of the factors which persuaded communities, e.g. Kingston Vale in Kingston upon Thames, to become part of London postal district SW15 rather than receive their post from Kingston was that London had two postal deliveries a day. With the decline in the London postal delivery service from 2003 to one post a day this no longer applies and so there have been motions by residents to reconsider their affiliation. Residents of Ilford and Windsor have also suggested the possibility of altering their postcode but have been told by Royal Mail that there is "virtually no hope" of changing their postcode [1]  (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/4409163.stm). 1930 is a common year starting on Wednesday. ... A post town is a required part of all UK postal addresses. ... Kingston Vale is place in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames. ... 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. ... The system of London postal districts predated the introduction of postcodes throughout the United Kingdom in the 1960s. ... SW15 is the postcode for Putney in the London Borough of Wandsworth The post town for this postcode is LONDON. Categories: London postal districts | London geography stubs | Wandsworth ... 2003 is a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar, and also: The International Year of Freshwater The European Disability Year Events January January 1 - Luíz Inácio Lula Da Silva becomes the 37th President of Brazil. ... Ilford is a town in North-East London, UK in the London Borough of Redbridge. ... This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ...


The disadvantage of a London postal district is that it often carries a higher household and car insurance premium. Other disadvantages stem from the fact that many organisations adopt the postcode database for marketing, distribution and servicing purposes: "the postcode lottery". Thus health and ambulance services, telephone directories, shop deliveries, etc. are decided by postcode rather than by more rational principles. Still other disadvantages are the association of a postcode with a postal address. For instance Denham, in Buckinghamshire, has its letters sorted in Uxbridge, has a UB9 postcode and is described in the postcode database as 'Denham, UXBRIDGE, Middlesex'. Letters are still delivered by postmen, certainly, but delivery drivers can be misled into seeking a house in the wrong town which may be quite a distance from the intended delivery point. Denham is the name of more than one place. ... Buckinghamshire (abbreviated Bucks) is a county in south central England. ... Uxbridge is the name of many places, including: Uxbridge, London, England Uxbridge, Massachusetts, USA Uxbridge, Ontario, Canada This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... Middlesex as a traditional county. ...


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 Dublin in the Republic of Ireland, the Dublin postal districts. Centuries: 19th century - 20th century - 21st century Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s - 1960s - 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s Years: 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 Events and trends The 1960s was a turbulent decade of change around the world. ... This article is about the city of Belfast in Northern Ireland. ... The city from above Centenary Square. ... Edinburgh viewed from Arthurs Seat. ... For other uses, see Glasgow (disambiguation) George Square and Glasgows City Chambers Glasgow is Scotlands largest city, located on the River Clyde in West Central Scotland. ... Leeds is a city in the county of West Yorkshire, in the north of England. ... This article is about the city in England. ... This article is about the city in England. ... This article is about a city in the United Kingdom. ... This article is about the city in England. ... Huskisson_Street_Liverpool Toxteth is an area of inner-city Liverpool, England, starting approximately a mile south from the city centre. ... Dublins Hapenny Bridge. ... The Republic of Ireland (Irish: Poblacht na hÉireann) is the official description of an independent state which covers approximately five-sixths of the island of Ireland, off the coast of north-west Europe. ... Dublin postal districts are used by Irelands postal service, known as An Post, to sort mail in the Dublin area, This system is similar to that used in London and other UK cities before the advent of the postcode. ...


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. The Postcode Address File is a data file, available from the British Post Office, which is used to validate postal addresses against postcodes and to look up postcodes for addresses. ... A Victorian hexagonal red post box. ...


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

  • The postcode must be of 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) 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) will match this, but several invalid postcodes will also match.


Application

The PAF is commercially licensable 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 is a data file, available from the British Post Office, which is used to validate postal addresses against postcodes and to look up postcodes for addresses. ... Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. ...


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. Alternative meaning: Channel Islands of California The Channel Islands are a group of islands off the coast of Normandy, France, in the English Channel. ... The Bailiwick of Jersey is a British crown dependency off the coast of Normandy, France. ... The Bailiwick of Guernsey is a British crown dependency in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy. ... The Isle of Man (Ellan Vannin in Manx), a British crown dependency, lies in the Irish Sea almost equidistant from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. ... 1969 was a common year starting on Wednesday (the link is to a full 1969 calendar). ... Events and trends Technology Explosive growth of the Internet; decrease in the cost of computers and other technology Reduction in size and cost of mobile phones leads to a massive surge in their popularity Year 2000 problem (commonly known as Y2K) Microsoft Windows operating system becomes virtually ubiquitous on IBM...


Overseas Territories

Some of the UK's overseas territories have their own postcodes:

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 in England, Falklands to Falkirk in Scotland. 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. The Falkland Islands are an archipelago in the South Atlantic consisting of two main islands, East Falkland and West Falkland, and a number of smaller islands. ... South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom, also claimed by Argentina. ... South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom, also claimed by Argentina. ... British claim to land and islands in Antarctica, and is the oldest territorial claim on the continent. ... Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Ascension Island is a Crown Colony of the United Kingdom located in the South Atlantic Ocean. ...


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. Australian postcodes are covered in the article List of postal codes in Australia. ... This article is about the English city. ... For other Croydons see Croydon (disambiguation) Croydon is a large suburban town and commercial centre to the south of London and forms part of the Greater London conurbation. ... A Canadian postal code is a string of six characters that form part of a postal address in Canada. ...


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. This article is about the Welsh city of Newport. ...


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 mis-behave slightly! Subsequently, the "zeroth" district has been used in some other postcode areas.
  • A separate postal "district", CR9 is used for large users. 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.)

See also

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. ... 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. ... A ZIP Code is the postal code used by the United States Postal Service, which always writes it with capital letters. ... 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. ...

External links

  • More detailed explanation of the postcode system (http://www.evoxfacilities.co.uk/evoxps.htm)
  • British postal codes (http://www.upu.int/post_code/en/countries/GBR.pdf) - this PDF document from the Universal Postal Union explains the system and shows all allowable UK postcode formats
  • Royal Mail's Information Sheet on the history of Postcodes (http://www.consignia.com/heritage/english/downloads/research/Infosheet_4.pdf) - PDF

  Results from FactBites:
 
UK Postcode Lottery - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1202 words)
The UK Postcode Lottery is a lottery in the United Kingdom, launched in the north east of England on 31 August 2005.
The lottery is in aid of charity, and works by using an entrant's postcode plus a unique three-digit number as their ticket number.
In the build-up to the launch of the lottery, mailshots are being used to inform the public of a promotional competition in which 5 MINI Coopers are being given away (one for each post code district in the north east).
Postal code - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1569 words)
A postal code (known in various countries as a post code, postcode, or ZIP code) is a series of letters and/or digits appended to a postal address for the purpose of sorting mail.
In some countries (for instance continental Europe, where many countries use the same postcode format of four or five numeric digits) it is advisable to prefix the numeric postal code with a country code to avoid confusion when sending international mail to or from that country.
UK postcodes are alphanumeric and between six and eight characters in length (including a single space character used to separate the outward and inward parts of the code).
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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