It’s a long way to Tipperary? – Not any more as the Irish adopt new postcode system

It’s been at least 10 years in the making, but this week Irish Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte, announced that he has won approval from the Cabinet to pave the way for a new Irish postcode system that will launch in 2015.

The new postcodes will bring Ireland in line with the rest of Europe and the USA, whereby postcode systems have been the norm for decades.

Under the new system, Ireland will be the first country in the world to have a public database of unique identifiers for all properties. It is hoped that the new system will help services like ambulances to locate people’s homes more easily and quickly.

“Third house on the left, past the shop where Niall works…”

The postcodes should also eliminate the situation which affects up to 35% of Irish addresses, where  Irish postal workers have to rely on their own local knowledge of rural areas or their residents to deliver the post.

The UK introduced a system 54 years ago, where each postcode covers an average of 15 addresses. Under the Irish system, however, individual apartments and offices in large developments will each have an individual code as long as specific post-boxes are provided.

Unsurprisingly, businesses, public bodies have been lobbying for a postcode system for many years to help improve deliveries and services. And with increasing numbers of people now buying online, some ecommerce merchants still insist on consumers entering a postcode before the order can be completed, despite the fact that only 80 countries around the world have a postal code system.

Guy Mucklow, CEO of address management company, Postcode Anywhere, has welcomed the new proposal. He claims that the introduction of postcodes will bring significant benefits to the country’s economy.

“Having a complete address database is an essential part of managing an efficient economy.  Besides the obvious improvements to delivery, addresses and particularly structured, postcoded addresses are the key to providing the information which helps to target spending within both local and central government.

“We have many UK business customers who sell into the Irish market and have never had the data to provide them with the level of service that they require.  I am delighted that this is now changing, however, I would add a word of caution that unless the data is widely exposed through services such as our own, then it will remain of limited value as people will have little incentive to remember their complete address.”

  • Bill Winkler

    This is a very big deal but progress can be exceptionally slow. I have tried to use similar types of ‘addresses’ from Puerto Rico (as part of the U.S. Census) and the rural Southeast U.S. where progress has been much slower than people originally anticipated when the U.S. adopted the current ZIP code system in the 1960s. In the originally envisioned ZIP code system, every location would be given a house number and street name which would greatly facilitate emergency services from fire departments and police.

    With the above type of Irish address, you would still need to be close enough to talk to someone who could help with the above ‘address’.

    In Puerto Rico, we can effectively process house-number/street-name addresses (Calle etc.) because we have Spanish-type addresses and French-type addresses intermixed with other addresses in some U.S. cities. Addresses like the one Irish ‘address’ above are still a problem in U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico and, somewhat surprisingly, in parts of the rural Southeast U.S. In the rural Southeast U.S., the address may be on the form ‘Rural Route 1, Box 456’ where the letter carrier has memorized the location to which the mail is delivered.