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6 Jul 2021

Ideal Postcodes vs Royal Mail Data


Ideal Postcodes and Royal Mail data comparison

Ideal Postcodes is a Royal Mail PAF solutions provider. The Postcode Address File (PAF) is an address dataset maintained by Royal Mail. It contains all known delivery points and postcodes in the UK. PAF provides access to 1.4 million business names, 1.8 million UK postcodes and over 30 million residential and business addresses.

Ideal Postcodes source address data from PAF and offer address validation solutions such as postcode lookup or address finder.

The following chart indicates some important reasons to choose Ideal Postcodes’s Address Validation solution in preference to building your own using the Royal Mail data.

Ideal Postcodes: Royal Mail raw data comparison

Feature Royal Mail Ideal Postcodes
Raw Data Supplied on CD / Download with data split across over 20 fields
Data updates Data supplied monthly, quarterly or yearly on CD, manual process to update your systems with possible downtime Data updated daily as soon as it is available with no downtime
Free data supply Additional costs to receive a copy of the data in addition to the costs for using it - £1,200 for monthly updates You only pay for what you use, with no extra up-front or ongoing costs
Searching by postcode Requires postcode to be presented in a specific, nonstandard format Accepts searches with postcodes in any format, and corrects common typing errors
Searching by building name/number within a postcode Can identify simple building numbers, but many addresses where name and number information can be combined in an unexpected field Finds all possible matches regardless of where the data is found in the address, including “aliases” not contained in the standard PAF data
Searching without a postcode Data does not lend itself to searching in a free-text format to find relevant addresses quickly Large investment made in bespoke database technology to find addresses from town, street and building details
Addresses in ready-to-use format Data is provided split across over 20 fields, with a complex algorithm required to convert the data into a useable format Address details presented in a format ready to be displayed to the user, printed or inserted into your database according to your specifications, as well as the raw PAF format
Royalty declarations Usage must be tracked and declared to Royal Mail monthly via a manual process We handle all the royalty declaration process automatically
Auditing You are liable to be audited by Royal Mail to ensure you are complying with the license terms Our systems are audited so yours don’t have to be
Performance Dependant on your hardware and software investment, over 28 million address records can take a significant time to search Load balanced, bespoke database technology processes even complex searches without postcodes in less than a tenth of a second
High availability Dependant on your hardware and software investment, as developing a system resilient to server failure or that is fully available while updates are applied can be costly Simple to use APIs, tutorials and drag-and-drop reusable code for integration in 5 minutes
Ease of integration Your developers have a significant amount of work to do to search and present the data Simple to use APIs, tutorials and drag-and-drop reusable code for integration in 5 minutes
Suite of other data capture and validation services Data Cleaning and Address database with UPRN and Rooftop Geocoding
Continues to work if updates not installed on time or correctly System cuts off if updates are not installed correctly Data updated daily, as soon as it is available with no downtime at your end

Technical Support

Along with the Address Validation solution, Ideal Postcodes provides technical and account support. There are also guides and resources available to assist with integration.

Simpler Pricing

If the address data is self procured, there are some annual data costs incurred by the user. Ideal Postcodes absorbs the annual costs to offer simple licensing terms and pricing.

Address Validation

With address validation, all addresses will be verified and returned in the most accurate and simplest format. Here are some additional benefits of using an API.

Correct User Input Mistakes

It is easy to make spelling mistakes on address forms, or sometimes we are unsure of the complete address. Whether a form is located on a website or internal data tool, Fuzzy Address Matching can be implemented to an address validation API to return valid and relevant addresses closest to the address entry.

Valid Address Formatting

Addresses can appear to be a simple combination of building number, street, town and postcode, but in fact Royal Mail supply the data in seven files (excluding the optional counties and alias databases). Once you have found an address and joined together the various parts from the different tables, you will need to convert the raw data.

An address validation solution does this for you and returns recognisable addresses. Ideal Postcodes can support any number of address lines depending on your requirements.

Customer Stories

The Duke of Edinburgh's Award developed its own internal address search solution and handled the procurement of its addressing dataset directly from Royal Mail.

We partnered up with the DofE to migrate its applications to use our data APIs, providing the charity with complete developer and account assistance through the transition.

We also worked with the DofE to understand its specific licensing requirements. We were able to match the DofE with the most cost-effective licensing solution that met its address validation use cases.

Read The Duke of Edinburgh's customer story.