Hello Cruel World
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Universal Postal Union
Hadn't heard of this before, tho' you'd think there must be something like it. Well, here's the official site. Some useful info and links.
Established in 1874, the Universal Postal Union (UPU) with its Headquarters in Berne (Switzerland), is the primary forum for cooperation between postal-sector players.
It now has 191 member countries, and is a specialised agency of the United Nations, fulfilling an advisory, mediating and liaison role, and rendering technical assistance where needed. It sets the rules for international mail exchanges.
It does not interfere in the domestic domain, such as setting postage rates, deciding which and how many postage stamps to issue, and managing postal operations and staff

These are unique, universal identifiers which unambiguously identify the addressee's locality. At present, 117 UPU member countries use postcodes as part of their addressing systems.

A set of PDF files listing Postcodes (or giving other postcode information) for the different countries: www.upu.int/post_code/en/countries/
Each is identified with a three-letter code for the country, e.g., AUS.pdf

Postal addressing systems

Royal Mail site

Looking for a UK Address or Postcode
I had not realised that their system is so unlike the Australian one (which is closer to the USA version). Each code covers quite a small area, and they are reasonably often changed, added or deleted. A large-enough mail recipient, such as a company or government body, can have their own code. Our system is much more fixed, with smaller geographic zones covering a suburb or so in the urban areas and larger ones in 'regional' and rural areas which might cover several small towns as well as the country between. Each State starts with a separate integer, 2 in NSW, 3 in Victoria, etc. (which reflect their phone codes too, eg (07) 4567 8901 will be in Queensland, 7001 is Brisbane GPO), tho' Territories are messier, and the numbering starts near the centre of the State capital and works out. "Sydney 2000" is the Central Business District, as well as the Olympic Games. Just in recent years the '1xxx' series was added, which seems to identify specific Post Offices and mail sorting centres.

Validating UK Postcode formats
The official UK (Great Britain) Postcode Address File (PAF) contains around 27 million codes, and is subject to strict copyright and licensing controls. The only practical way to access it is by purchasing expensive, specialised address management software.

However, UK postcodes follow strict formatting rules. This article offers a Visual FoxPro function that checks if a given one follows the rules.
It's called the CheckPostcode function, returning .T. if the code passes the test, .F. otherwise.

A Map of London Postcodes: www.milesfaster.co.uk/postcodes/post-map.htm

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