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UPRN: Unique Property Reference Number

What Is a UPRN, Its Uses and How It Complements the Postcode Address File

Updated 22 Jan 2021

UPRN stands for Unique Property Reference Number and was created by the Ordnance Survey (OS). It consists of numbers of up to 12 digits in length. Local governments in the UK have allocated a unique number for each land or property.

A UPRN will consist of comprehensive data of a property, from the planning stages to demolition.

Ideal Postcodes now provides UPRN identifiers as a standard for Great Britain addresses where available at no extra cost

UPRN Search

Why UPRN is Important

Every land and property in the UK is allocated a Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) by local authorities. Each address is recorded in one database, and even if changes occur to these addresses, a full history of the report is available. This makes it easier to understand, maintain and manage the address data.

The UPRN is similar to an identity number. Each address can be accurately identified using the UPRN. This data is authoritative and unique coming from trusted local experts.

The UPRN is what all properties have in common. If any other datasets fail to recognise an address, the UPRN will always be the unique reference point. Organisations can link records, exchange and keep their data consistent in any internal tools.

How a UPRN is Created

UPRNs are allocated by local authorities and Ordnance Survey (OS).

  1. Local Authorities. Local authorities have the statutory permission to name and number every street and property in Great Britain and also allocate UPRNs to other objects.

  2. Ordnance Survey. OS identifies features in the landscape that might not have a ‘normal' address, and includes them in its AddressBase products.

Read more about The UPRN lifecycle.

Benefits of a UPRN

  • Avoid errors in data exchange
  • Optimise operational processes (CRM/SaaS/project management software)
  • Link internal datasets/share information with other organisations using UPRN
  • Understand each resident who uses your services

The UPRN stays unique to each property and will remain in its existing format. Any information added will be linked to matching records in different databases.

Extracting UPRN

UPRN data is now returned in our standard address results. You can now retrieve UPRN identifiers for premises in Great Britain at no extra cost with our API.

How it Differs from UDPRN

UDPRN is a unique premise identifier produced by Royal Mail in conjunction with the Postcode Address File (PAF). This code is readily available with PAF, with more information in our UDPRN guide.

Some key differences are:

  • UPRN excludes Northern Ireland
  • UPRN is used to identify premises in Ordnance Survey address products (AddressBase) whereas UDPRN is used in Royal Mail's address products (PAF)
  • UPRNs are 12 digits long vs UDPRN's 8 digit codes
  • UPRNs are updated on a 6 week cycle, whereas Royal Mail's UDPRNs are updated daily

Despite these differences UDPRN and UPRN essentially perform similar functions. The provide a unique identifying number that lives and dies with a specific property in their respective datasets. Furthermore, there is a one-to-one unique link between UPRN and UDPRN numbers.

UPRN and the Postcode Address File (PAF)

Less than 1% of the addresses on PAF do not carry a UPRN. This is because UPRN data is derived from Ordnance Survey's AddressBase products, which in turn retrieves addressing data from local authorities. Upon receiving an address, it is matched with the address on PAF. If a PAF address is not matched in this process, it does not receive a UPRN.

Here are some instances where that could happen:

  • PAF has split an address into multiple addresses but the local authority view that as one address and vice versa (cannot match two UDPRNs to one UPRN)
  • The Local Authority does not believe the address exists anymore and should therefore not be included
  • Addresses that are for postal use only, e.g. mail handling sites

UPRN and Multiple Residence

Our Multiple Residence addresses currently shares the same UPRN as its parent premise (i.e. each sub-occupancy will have the UPRN of its parent premise).