A postcode is a series of letters and digits, defined by the Royal Mail and appended to UK postal addresses for the purpose of sorting mail. UK postcodes usually identify a group of addresses, although in the case of a large postal user it may represent a single delivery point. In residential areas, each postcode generally represents up to about eighty distinct addresses.
Examples of valid postcodes
A postcode is made up of a combination of letters and numbers in one of the following ways:
* A1 2BC * D34 5EF * GH6 7IJ * KL8M 9NO
The same code is usually used for a small group of addresses so is not unique to every address but helps to pin-point exactly where the item of mail needs to go to.
How do postcodes work?
Each part of the postcode provides step-by-step information about where the item of mail is heading. From left to right the postcode narrows down its destination.
For example, take the postcode EC1V 9HQ:
- The first one or two letters is the postcode area and it identifies the main Royal Mail sorting office which will process the mail. In this case EC would go to the Mount Pleasant sorting office in London
- The second part is usually just one or two numbers but for some parts of London it can be a number and a letter. This is the postcode district and tells the sorting office which delivery office the mail should go to
- The third part is the sector and is usually just one number. This tells the delivery office which local area or neighbourhood the mail should go to
- The final part of the postcode is the unit code which is always two letters. This identifies a group of up to 80 addresses and tells the delivery office which postal route (or walk) will deliver the item
For further information about postcodes, refer to the Royal Mail website.