Is UK postcode data freely available in the public domain?
October 24, 2005 8:39 AM   Subscribe

Is UK postcode data freely available in the public domain?

If I wanted to get a list of all known UK postcodes, is this data publicly available for no cost?

I presume that the electoral role will reveal most of this, although not all of it. That would suggest that all postcodes and addresses are in the public domain. Is that accurate?

I've read about the Postcode Address File and QAS. I'm not interested in data or services that have a cost. However, I am curious about why there is a charge for some of these services, such as QAS. (I presume it's for the licensing for the code that searches the PAF, and for regular updates to the data, rather than for the data itself.)

But is UK postcode data - in theory - public property?

Oh... I don't intend to spam anyone :-)
posted by ajp to Law & Government (9 answers total)
Electoral role will do it. I think.


(as a side note I used the electoral role to register "interest" in broadband to get my exchange enabled. it worked as well)
posted by lemonfridge at 8:52 AM on October 24, 2005

I have used QAS in the past, and was charged on a per user basis as well as for the quarterly updates.
posted by kenchie at 8:58 AM on October 24, 2005

Well, I know that my company (which does mapping/routing/etc services in N.America and W Europe) has to buy/licence/whatever the data from Royal Mail. And we get everything - up to 7 or 8 characters or whatever the max is.

Seems like this guy has data for at least the first 3-4 chars of the postcode. It won't get you exact matches but seems to be all of the main areas...

But I'm surprised at the lengths that Royal Mail has gone to prevent people from using postcode lookups - you have to bloody login for crying out loud!

Disclaimer: I live in Canada so I'm not 100% sure how the British system works.
posted by chuma at 9:06 AM on October 24, 2005

Try looking at UK Info Disk Pro.

It's far from free though.
posted by lemonfridge at 9:15 AM on October 24, 2005

No. Post Codes are not public domain. The post office own them all. You can get various databases of them though, doesn't mean they are public domain information though.
posted by alexst at 9:16 AM on October 24, 2005

There's a Free The Postcode site, so I guess they aren't free.
posted by reynaert at 9:22 AM on October 24, 2005

There is this too.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 9:33 AM on October 24, 2005

But if you're interested, there are organisations who are lobbying to open up post-codes and map data in the UK.
posted by quiet at 10:20 AM on October 24, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, some really interesting info there, much obliged.
posted by ajp at 5:30 PM on October 25, 2005

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