Allocation of Postcodes by Royal Mail

The responsibility for the allocation of a postcode falls to Royal Mail. However they will not issue a postcode for a new street unless requested to do so by the Council.

Address Management Unit,
Royal Mail,
Admiral House,
Admiral Way,
Doxford International Business Park,


The purpose of a Postcode

The prime purpose of a postcode is to assist Royal Mail in the sorting of mail to be delivered by its own workforce. The data is sold by Royal Mail to other organisations that use it for billing, utility connections, credit checks, insurance and delivery by other carriers. The data is also used in satellite navigation systems and other mapping systems. Whilst its prime purpose is still valid the use of a postcode for these other purposes can lead to problems.

The problems are particularly evident in relation to emergency services and satellite navigation systems. The postcode is linked to the postal address which is not necessarily an adequate description of the location of a property, i.e. properties may have a postal address which includes a post town from a neighbouring county. In addition many postal addresses do not include street names.

Royal Mail also allocates a different postcode to a building with several units, e.g. a block of flats or offices, with the result that a postcode is located within the area covered by another postcode.

Consultation with Royal Mail

On receipt of a street naming or property naming application the Council consults Royal Mail for 2 reasons:-

  • To obtain Royal Mail’s view on any building names to be allocated i.e. is there any confusion between the proposed names and others in the locality.
  • To obtain a Royal Mail postcode

Street names are decided by Cheshire East Council and properties are numbered and linked to the postcode allocated by Royal Mail.

Approval of the numbering is issued to the applicant and the properties are added to the Local Land and Property Gazetteer and sent to the National Address Gazetteer. Royal Mail is notified of the approved addresses.

Activation of postcodes

Royal Mail enters all new properties, name changes and amendments on their "Not yet built" file. This data is not added to the Postcode Address File on their web site until the postcode is activated. A postcode can be activated when the property is complete and ready for mail delivery. Royal Mail requires confirmation that the properties are completed/occupied before additions are made to the Postal Address File. This can cause problems for utility connections which are required prior to completion and occupation.

Royal Mail will not add an address to the Postcode Address File unless it receives postal deliveries.

It is the applicants/developers responsibility to notify Royal Mail to activate the postcodes. As the development proceeds contact the Address Development Centre at Sunderland on 08456 04 50 60 (Option 3) or fax 08456 05 44 33 to activate the postcodes for connection of services or on completion/occupation of each plot.

Changes to addresses and postcodes

The Council creates addresses according to British Standard BS 7666 which requires a street name as a mandatory field. In some existing Royal Mail addresses a locality name is used. When new addresses are added to the street Royal Mail will often change the entries of existing addresses in the Postal Address File and may allocate a new postcode. This is not at the request of the Borough Council.

  • Queries about postcodes can be dealt with by the Royal Mail by contacting them on their postcode enquiry line:
    • Monday to Friday 8am to 4pm 0906 302 1222* Call cost 55p per minute plus your Phone company's network access charge. 
    • Monday to Friday 4pm to 6pm 0845 7111 222* Call cost 5p per minute plus your Phone company's network access charge. 
    • Saturday 8am to 1pm 0845 7111 222* Call cost 5p per minute plus your Phone company's network access charge. 
  • For delivery problems Phone the Royal Mail's Customer Service Centre - 0845 7740 740.

Postcodes for commercial premises are allocated in the same manner as for residential premises but a large company can apply to the Royal Mail for its own code known as a large user code. Application for a large user code is the responsibility of that company as they will know what volume of mail they generate.

Contact us

01270 686770

Address Management
Development Management
Municipal Buildings
Earle Street


Page last reviewed: 06 August 2021