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Postcodes in the UK – Guide By Mailcoms

About Postcodes in the UK

April 2014 celebrated the 40th anniversary of postcodes in the UK, and in celebration of the postcode, Mailcoms are looking at the use of postcodes in the UK, its history, how it works and more. Whether you are sending a mail item or putting it into a sat-nav, the postcode is used daily by millions of people.

The Postcode in the UK, referred to as a ZIP code in the USA, is a series of letters or numbers, to assign a postal address in a country. Over 100 countries worldwide use a postcode system. In the UK, there are 120 postcode areas nationwide. Read through this blog to find out more about the Postcode system in the UK.

History of Postcodes in the UK

The idea of the postcode was thought of in 1959, as a method to overcome the labour intensive letter sorting in the UK. Six years later in 1965, the postcode system was set up to reduce the address down to a machine readable code. Following the recoding of this in 1974, the postcode era began.

Now in 2014, postcodes are used more than ever. They are used not just for sending mail, but also for calculating insurance premiums, used in sat-nav technology and more. All postcode data is stored, maintained and updated in the Postcode Address File Database for over 29 million delivery areas. This is done by the Royal Mail.

How Postcodes work

  • WS11 7LT – The first letters tell Royal Mail which of the 120 registered areas of the UK you live in.
  • WS11 7LT – The number narrows down the postcode to a specific region of the area.
  • WS11 7LT – The final three digits lists the street of your residence.

Postcodes Today

The postcode tells us much more than where to deliver a mail item to. In celebration of the 40th year of the postcode, Royal Mail commissioned the Centre for Economic & Business Research (CEBR) to study life in the UK through the eye of the postcode. Some of the findings were:

  • SW1X – the healthiest area in the UK
  • BA2-BA11 & TA10-12 – lowest unemployment rate
  • TD12 & LA17 – lowest crime rates

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