News archive

A collection of news archives from our previous website dating from 2014 – 2009.




– Counties Consultation results


Results available under paper PAF(14)3

Consulatation is launched

PAB launches consultation on the inclusion of county information in PAF
The inclusion of three types of county information in PAF can lead to confusion and the use of old county data in addressing is strongly criticised in some quarters. Hence, the PAB wishes to gather information from the market for PAF about preferences in this area and the likely consequences of changes. Copies of the PAB consultation document can be found in the papers section of this web site. Interested parties are invited to respond by 13 December 2013.

– Counties Consultation

– The PAB response to the licence consultation

The PAB welcomes the proposed move to a permissive licence

The PAB response to the licence consultation welcomes the proposed move to a permissive licence expressed in plain English and the proposal to licence those who take PAF from Royal Mail, leaving re-sellers free to licence and charge their customers as they see appropriate subject only to a limited number of restrictions to protect PAF IPR. The Board supports the continued availability of a Developer licence free at the point of use and of a centrally funded Public Sector Licence to allow free use of PAF in accredited public sector organisations. But the Board is convinced that a \’one size fits all\’ approach to pricing will not work and would damage the businesses of several types of user. It argues for \’per user\’, \’per click\’ and unlimited use options at reasonable prices. For the future the Board would like to see application of a \’click-through\’ licence and development of PAF quality standards as part of the licence agreement with customers.

– Consultation Reply Summary

See full summary of responses

Available to view in the PAF Advisory Board ‘Papers’ section of the website

After representation by the PAB and other user bodies Royal Mail have agreed that the main objectives of the new licensing regime shall be simplification and maintaining current price ranges and operating models

Statement by Stephen Agar of Royal Mail:

The Postcode Address File (PAF) licensing consultation closed on Friday 20 September. We received around 160 responses.

As PAF users will expect, Royal Mail will carefully and fully consider all responses to the consultation and continue to communicate and engage with the market. I am sure that we can create a licensing regime that simplifies licensing, retains current levels of flexibility and will work for existing customers and attract new ones. We are committed to a licensing approach that will meet the aims of increasing the levels of PAF usage and will allow growth without disrupting the ways current customers use the data.

Royal Mail is committed to simplifying licensing and pricing of the Postcode Address File. This is something we, the Government, the postal service regulator Ofcom, the PAF Advisory Board and our customers want.

It is important that we continue to evolve PAF licensing to meet the needs of users in today’s market place. That is both existing users as well as potential new users. We want to encourage greater usage of PAF. Since its introduction, the way in which the postcode is used has diversified and grown. At the same time, so has the way we have licensed PAF.

Prior to the introduction of the current PAF licence, Royal Mail consulted extensively with the market and its representatives to develop a framework that offered users more choice on how to license the use of PAF. New measures such as transactional pricing and internal and external usage options were introduced. The use of PAF data has increased significantly since these new measures were implemented. We have tried to adapt to the changing market demands. We want that to continue. The consultation we have undertaken is an important, essential part of that process.

I have seen many supportive views about proposed changes towards simpler licensing. There have also been some concerns raised about the pricing proposals in the consultation. I would like to reassure PAF users that is not our intention to generate material additional revenues from our existing customer base and that our aim is to maintain current price ranges and operating models wherever possible.
After all, we want to extend use of and access to PAF, not restrict it.

– Royal Mail offers a first take on the licence consultation

– The Consultation

The Chairman’s update on the Consultation

Royal Mail have today launched a 7 week consultation on options for simplifying the PAF licence and pricing structure. The PAB will be submitting a response which will be posted on this PAB web site; meanwhile PAB would encourage all PAF users to submit their views via the AMU web site


Royal Mail today announced significant improvements to PAF licensing:

Free access to PAF for independent small charities
12 month free access for independent businesses employing 9 or less
An increase in free look-ups to 50 a day and no restriction on use for business purposes
Future development in association with the PAB of a shorter, plain English and permissive licence with minimal on-licensing and focus on the direct licencee.

Consultation with the market is expected in July.

– Royal Mail’s International Benchmarking Report

International Report

Address Management Unit releases a comparative study of the management of the postcode file in eight countries ranging from the Government owned Canada Post to the DAX listed Deutsche Post. Key points include:

  • The UK, Canada and the Netherlands have the most granular postcodes
  •  The UK is the most mature market for resellers and has the largest number of them
  •  There are proportionately more changes to the postcode file in the UK than elsewhere
  •  In Denmark the file is free at the point of consumption
  •  The UK, Canada and the Netherlands are the only other countries to offer a free sub-set of the data
  •  The UK licence for PAF is way more complicated than comparable licences (the Deutsche Post end-user licence is exceptional at only one page)

For fuller details see

Royal Mail’s International Benchmarking Report


– PAB Open Meeting 2013 – slides


The Slides used for the presentation at the PAB Open Meeting 12th March 2013 are now available to view in Board ‘Papers’

– Statement from Ian Beesley, Chairman of the PAB on the PSL

PSL Statement

The PAB welcomes the long-delayed announcement of a central public sector licence for the postcode address file (PAF). As a result around 5 million public sector employees in England and Wales will have unrestricted access to PAF data free at the point of use. For example, the removal of financial disincentives to the wider use of PAF data offers the prospect of improved co-operation between local authorities, smoother contact with patients in the NHS and better emergency services. It should facilitate an improved accountability of public sector bodies to citizens.
The postcode already underpins growing sectors of the economy such as internet transactions. Together with the roll out of a free PAF Developer Licence the arrangements for a public sector licence mark a significant further step forward.
However, we note that initially members of the Public Sector Mapping Agreement will be able to use PAF free of charge in advance of other public sector bodies. We urge Royal Mail and BIS to minimise the impact of this potential market distortion. We also stress that the Board is alive to the possibility of adverse effects on private sector PAF users from changes in quality or price. We wish to reassure private sector users that we will remain vigilant in monitoring and mitigating these risks.

Ian Beesley
PAF Advisory Board

– PAB Open Meeting 2013

Open Meeting

The PAB will be holding their annual Open Meeting on Tuesday 12th March 2013, from 10:00 to 13:00 at Ofcom Riverside House, 2a Southwark Bridge Road, London, SE1 9HA

If you would like to attend please contact us through the PAB website or via Sam Hardy on

Once you have registered an agenda will be emailed to you nearer to the event


The Licence Consultation can be viewed in PAB Papers



Powered by PAF

The AMU has recently revamped its presence on the web to provide more direct access to information and help for PAF users. The aim is to provide information for businesses interested in address products and details of PAF suppliers; for applications developers wanting to take advantage of the free PAF developer licence and data; and for Solutions Providers looking for support resources, licensing information and PAF-related news. The site can be found at

– Open Meeting 17th January 2012

Open Meeting presentation

Slides from the PAB Open Meeting that took place on the 17th January 2012 can be viewed in PAB papers

– PAB Open Meeting Agenda


Please refer to paper PAF(11)26 Revised

Deadline 30th November 2011

The PAF Advisory Board is looking to refresh its private sector membership. If you are interested please send your CV to or use the Contact page above by 30 November 2011. Membership of the Board is normally at Managing Director level and is unpaid.


– Public Data Corporation Consultation

Response to the Public Data Corporation Consultation

Please refer to PAF(24) – Public Data Corporation Consultation in the papers section of the PAB Website

– Open Data Consultation

PAB response to the Open Data Consultation

Please refer to PAF(25) – Open Data Consultation in the papers section of the PAB Website


– PAB Open Meeting

17th January 2012

The PAF Advisory Board will be holding an Open Meeting on the 17th January 2012 from 10:00 to 13:00 at:-

Riverside House
2a Southwark Bridge Road

An email invite will follow shortly

– PAF(11)14

The PAF Advisory Board responds to the Postcomm report

The PAF Advisory Board responds to the Postcomm report on representations on behalf of the PAF market  paper PAF(11)14 +FINAL (available under the PAF papers tag) contains the full Advisory Board response and planned actions.

BFPO postcodes UPDATE

BFPO postcodes  Royal Mail has told the Advisory Board that it will shortly release a data set with BFPO delivery addresses as a free supplement to the monthly PAF file

– BFPO postcodes


Royal Mail plan to launch a web based enquiry centre

Licence conditions

During July Royal Mail plans to launch a web based enquiry centre which will allow end-users and solutions providers to follow a D-I-Y compliance check on PAF use under the generic 2010 licence. Access will be through the Address Management Unit web site.

The Advisory Board is proposing to let a small contract

The Advisory Board is proposing to let a small contract for research to estimate the value of the PAF file to the UK economy at current take up levels and an estimate of the extent of potential further use.
The Advisory Board expects that the contract will be let in May 2011 and the work concluded with a written report and a presentation to the Advisory Board on 14July 2011.
Those interested in conducting the research are invited to submit a brief expression of interest containing an outline of how the research would be carried out, the likely duration in man days and previous relevant experience. Work to estimate the current value and the potential value should be separately identified.
Expressions of interest should be sent by e-mail using the contact form or by post to:
PAF Advisory Board, PO Box 57983, LONDON,W4 9AW
to arrive by 21 April 2011.




The Advisory Board understands that negotiations continue between the
Address Management Unit and the Department for Communities and Local
Government over the promised public sector PAF licence. It is unclear when
any new arrangements might become operational. Until there is an
announcement from the AMU that agreement has been reached on a new regime
for public sector PAF use and any transition arrangements finalised the
Advisory Board further understands that all requirements for licence fees
will remain unchanged. Further information will be posted on this web-site
when it becomes available.

Many thanks


February 2011


Last month Dutch newspapers reported a dispute between the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and TNT Post over the sale of zip code data. The Government wants to end TNT Post’s monopoly and sell the zip codes itself at cost price. TNT has rejected the proposed compensation offered by the Government. According to a spokesperson for the Dutch Government TNT asked: “an unfounded and unreasonably high price”. The Dutch Government argues that it is entitled to end the TNT monopoly since it does not plan to exploit the sale of zip codes commercially. Meanwhile, the newspapers reported, TNT Post is considering taking the matter to court or to the European Commission.

At about the same time the UK Government announced its intention to create a public data corporation.1 The Corporation will, says the UK Government: “for the first time bring together Government bodies and data into one organisation and provide an unprecedented level of easily accessible public information which will open up opportunities for innovative developers, businesses and members of the public to generate social and economic growth through the use of data.”

Now I wonder, does the UK Government have ambitions to buy out the postcode and include it in the public data corporation? And on what basis if Royal Mail is sold: PAF owned by the public data corporation but maintained by Royal Mail? PAF owned by Government and maintained by a third party? Or will PAF be sold as part of Royal Mail?

All this matters because data are only as good as their relevance and I am left wondering what will happen to postal data quality if the management of the Dutch zip codes is separated from their postal use.
So, do great political minds think alike (after all both governments are coalitions)? Or is the British Government so hard up it is thinking of going Dutch?

Ian Beesley

February 2011



– PAF – Statistics


Each month the AMU provides statistics showing the changes made top PAF analysed into various categories. The Advisory Board will make these available in the ‘papers’ section of the web site and in the form in which we receive them.



Just under 50 people braved the weather on 8 December 2010 to attend the third annual open meeting of the PAF Advisory Board. They heard the Chairman, Ian Beesley, give the Board’s assessment of the pluses (more flexible usage) and minuses (complicated licensing terms) of the 2010 revision to the PAF licence. Paul Tatman-Madsen and Scott Childes of the Address Management Unit outlined the current state of knowledge about which sectors of the economy and which types of business have accounted for recent growth in PAF usage and announced a web-based initiative to help PAF end-users and value added re-sellers navigate the licensing conditions, thereby contributing to consistency in licence interpretation. Peter Allies reported on a survey of end-users to gauge priorities for improving the quality of PAF. Richard Mason of the Ordnance Survey put flesh on the bones of the announcement by the Communities and Local Government Secretary that a joint-venture between Ordnance Survey and the collective local authorities of England and Wales would release a National Address Gazetteer early in 2011/2012. The Gazetteer will include addresses that are not mail delivery points and will be updated partly directly by local authorities and partly using PAF data. The Advisory Board understands that the terms on which the Gazetteer will be available are under discussion and that the Gazetteer will be available for commercial use, but is likely to be more expensive for small users than the PAF file. The Advisory Board has submitted a list of key requirements for any public sector PAF licence to ensure fairness of treatment for the private sector. (The text is available as PAF(10)23).

The presentations from the open meeting are available on this PAF Board web-site.

Wishing all those interested in PAF a Happy and prosperous 2011.

Ian Beesley
January 2011



The PAF Board has submitted comments under the Government Consultation

The Advisory Board welcomes moves to make postcode data widely available provided that the maintenance of data quality is properly ensured.


The first meeting took place on 27 January 2010

The first meeting of the Quality Working Group took place on 27 January 2010. Members are: Peter Allies, Allies Computing (Chairman); Mark Chipperfield, BBC Televison Licensing; Andrew Jones, Ordnance Survey; Ben Smith, Tesco.

Questions and issues can be raised with the Working Group via the contact link on this web site.