Street naming and numbering

Royal Mail

Royal Mail uses the address information it obtains from councils and the postcodes it allocates to create the national Postcode Address File (PAF). This file is used by many companies as their address database, for example to arrange deliveries to customers' houses or on websites such as insurance companies or flight booking sites. If a company tells you that your address doesn't exist, it probably means that it is not shown in PAF.

This may be because you are giving your address incorrectly e.g. using a name instead of a number; because of an error in PAF or because your property is very new and PAF has not been updated to show that the property is complete and occupied. To confirm your address, and if necessary ask Royal Mail to amend their records, contact the Council on 01422 288002 or email

New developments

After the Council notifies Royal Mail of the addresses on a new development, Royal Mail will add the addresses to a list called 'not yet built'. These addresses will not show up on the Postcode Address File (PAF). Once the building is complete, and certainly before it is occupied, the developer should contact Royal Mail's Address Management Unit, and ask them to transfer it from the 'not yet built' list to the PAF.

The phone number to ring to confirm completion is 0845 011 110; when you hear the recorded message, select first option 3 and then option 1 to speak to the Address Management Unit. They will ask you to confirm the postcode and the numbers of all the completed properties.


Not all properties have postcodes; Royal Mail will only give a postcode to a property which has a letterbox where it can receive mail. So for example a multi-storey car park or a church will probably not have a postcode. If you build a stable in a field, it will not have a postal address so if you expect to receive bills, for example for a water supply, they will need to go to a separate billing address such as your home address.

Changes to postcodes

Most Royal Mail postcodes are specific to a single street or sometimes to just part of a single street. This means that street-finding websites and satnav systems can pinpoint an address to within a few hundred or even tens of metres.

However some postcodes in rural areas cover a more general area and include properties which may be accessed from a number of different streets. While they may be quite close as the crow flies, the distance between them by road may be as much as two or three miles.

The Council will hold both a street name and a postcode as part of the address for these properties but Royal Mail's website and the PAF will only hold a postcode and a general locality such as Blackshaw Head for example. Satnav systems may direct drivers to the wrong location or at least to an inappropriate route to get to these properties. Royal Mail will add the street name to your address at your request but it will sometimes mean that your postcode has to change.

If a new property is addressed in one of these areas, Royal Mail may take the opportunity of allocating all the properties on the area postcode to a street-specific postcode so your postcode may change even if you do not request it. Royal Mail will write to inform you of this.

More information about postcodes can be found on the Royal Mail website: Royal Mail|External link.

Last Updated: 27/06/2016