Are you making the most of the Multiple Residence File?

A few years ago, my youngest son decided to fly the nest to embark on a new life at university. With fresher’s week looming, and his student loan safely in his bank, he set out to do some online shopping (he assures me this is for university supplies rather than beer but I’m not convinced). However, this seemingly easy task proved a lot trickier than he first thought.

University Challenge

The fact that my son now lives in university accommodation, where he shares a flat – and a letterbox – with six other people seems to be proving quite a challenge for many online stores. His last two deliveries failed to arrive despite the online tracking system suggesting otherwise. The problem seems to be occurring because some retailers are failing to make use of the Multi Residence File supplied by Royal Mail.

Currently, Royal Mail holds its main Postcode Address File (PAF®), the most up-to-date address database in the UK, separate to its Multiple Residence File, which holds details of shared premises in the UK. Unfortunately many retailers fail to invest in the Multi Residence File causing not only major confusion for their couriers, but more importantly, disappointment for their customers.

What is the Multi Residence File?

Multiple Residence data identifies and verifies premises where multiple households share a delivery point, and provides a detailed address structure for these properties. As well as halls of residence these could be any shared-entry addresses such as flats, nurses’ accommodation, businesses, among many others.

Without access to the 679,799 multi-occupancy addresses that can supplement Royal Mail’s Postcode Address File®, retailers could be failing to validate and capitalise on over half a million addresses.

To give you a specific example, according to PAF® there are 214,190 residential addresses in the “NW” postcode area of London, but with MR data this becomes 269,301 – an increase of over 25%.

Including this file can open the door to literally thousands of previously inaccessible prospects. The data is essential for finding the true number of households and from that the number of potential customers in a region. It’s also needed to verify if a customer is living in a single or divided property. In the latter case, it can be a check against fraud or help to decide if secure mailing is required for an order.

Despite the obvious benefits, Multi Residence data is rarely used in addressing software. This is partly due to an additional licence fee and partly simply because its existence is not widely known. But as I’m sure you and the whole population of university students will agree, it deserves much more widespread recognition.

Find out more about using Multi Residence data.


  • It’s a good point Guy. I have noticed that many international postal address verification services also usually stop at either the street or house number level while there may be national sources with unit coverage. Denmark is another example of that.

    • Hi Henrik, it’s an interesting point. More often than not we’ve had to rely on ranged data to try and create a premises level addressing service. There are a few national postal service providers who guard their address data jealously – which in our view is pretty narrow minded.