Postal codes used in the United Kingdom are known as postcodes (originally, postal codes). They are alphanumeric and were adopted nationally between 11 October 1959 and 1974, having been devised by the General Post Office (Royal Mail). A full postcode is known as a "postcode unit" and designates an area with several addresses or a single major delivery point. Theoretically, deliveries can reach their destination using the house number (or name if the house has no number) and postcode alone; however, this is against Royal Mail guidelines, which request the use of a full address.

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  • Postal codes used in the United Kingdom are known as postcodes (originally, postal codes). They are alphanumeric and were adopted nationally between 11 October 1959 and 1974, having been devised by the General Post Office (Royal Mail). A full postcode is known as a "postcode unit" and designates an area with several addresses or a single major delivery point. The structure of a postcode is two alphanumeric codes, the first having between two and four characters and the second, three characters. First, one or two letters indicate the postcode area, followed by one or two digits signifying a district within that area. This is followed by a space and then a number denoting a sector within said district, and finally by two letters which are allocated to streets or sides of a street. Postcode areas are often named for a major town or city—such as B for Birmingham—but may also be geographic in nature—such as HS for the Outer Hebrides. Each postcode area contains the number of post towns which are not themselves alphabetically denoted however each will generally constitute one—or more—postcode districts. (Example: A sizeable part of Southern England is covered by the GU postcode area—named for the town of Guildford. Guildford comprises postal districts GU1 and GU2. Nearby Woking, a major commuter town—6 miles (10 km) away—is a post town within the postal district of GU22. The central part of the town/city the postcode area is named after will have the number 1 e.g. B1 (Birmingham), LS1 (Leeds), M1 (Manchester). However, other post towns within the area are then either treated alphabetically—particularly in London—e.g. Chingford on the north-eastern edge of London being E4, whereas adjacent Walthamstow to the south being E17–or geographically—e.g. the Outer Hebrides area HS numbering the districts north to south. As a general rule, large post towns are numbered from the centre outward such that outlying parts have higher numbered districts, but the disparate post towns within a postal area can be numbered based on various criteria—the town the postal area is named after excepted, this always being 1. In particular, one cannot reliably infer the centrality of a postcode district within a postcode area from the postcode alone, for instance, SE1 covers a large part of Central London south of the Thames whereas SE2 covers Abbey Wood at the far end of the Elizabeth Line. See postcode area. Postcodes have been adopted for a wide range of purposes in addition to aiding the sorting of mail: for calculating insurance premiums, designating destinations in route planning software and as the lowest level of aggregation in census enumeration. The boundaries of each postcode unit and within these the full address data of currently about 29 million addresses (delivery points) are stored, maintained and periodically updated in the Postcode Address File database. The initial system of named postal districts, developed in London and other large cities from 1857, evolved towards the present form: in 1917 London was split into broad numbered subdivisions, and this extended to the other cities in 1934. Since the local government reorganisation of London in the 1960s, parts of Greater London lie outside the London postal area. These include large parts of the "TW", "KT", "SM", "CR", "HA", and "UB" postcode areas, among a few others. As examples of the postcode system, the postcode of the University of Roehampton in London is SW15 5PU, where SW stands for south-west London; the postcode of GCHQ is GL51 0EX, where GL signifies the postal area of Gloucester. The postal town can be a wide area and does not relate to a specific town, county or region. GL51 is one of the postcodes for the town of Cheltenham (in Gloucestershire). Theoretically, deliveries can reach their destination using the house number (or name if the house has no number) and postcode alone; however, this is against Royal Mail guidelines, which request the use of a full address. (en)
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  • Postal codes used in the United Kingdom are known as postcodes (originally, postal codes). They are alphanumeric and were adopted nationally between 11 October 1959 and 1974, having been devised by the General Post Office (Royal Mail). A full postcode is known as a "postcode unit" and designates an area with several addresses or a single major delivery point. Theoretically, deliveries can reach their destination using the house number (or name if the house has no number) and postcode alone; however, this is against Royal Mail guidelines, which request the use of a full address. (en)
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  • Postcodes in the United Kingdom (en)
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