Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 12-08-2017, 07:52 PM
HoneyBadgerDC HoneyBadgerDC is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Torrance Ca
Posts: 7,305
English Address

I need help with an address in England, no lines, no commas? I can't decipher how to write it? Can someone familiar Message me?
  #2  
Old 12-09-2017, 01:20 AM
PatrickLondon PatrickLondon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: London
Posts: 2,317
The key bit is the postcode at the end, which looks like SW1A 1AA. As long as that's clear, that gets the letter into the right bundle for delivery (try entering it into Google Maps, and you'll see how precise it is.

From the other end, here's the official advice
  #3  
Old 12-09-2017, 01:32 AM
bibliophage bibliophage is offline
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Maine
Posts: 10,222
I was going to link to the same site as Patrick, which covers addressing when shipping within the UK. When mailing from outside the UK, all that is followed on a separate line by the name of the country you're mailing to. Some years ago, I found out the hard way you're not supposed to use "England" or even "The United Kingdom" for the country. They want "Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
  #4  
Old 12-09-2017, 01:43 AM
bibliophage bibliophage is offline
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Maine
Posts: 10,222
Now I'm seeing some websites that claim "England" and/or "The United Kingdom" are acceptable. All I know is that the last time I mailed something to England (maybe ten years ago), my local postmistress told me it had to be "Great Britain and Northern Ireland."
  #5  
Old 12-09-2017, 01:55 AM
PatrickLondon PatrickLondon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: London
Posts: 2,317
I suppose the official listings of the relevant international agreements refer to "Great Britain and Northern Ireland" as completely unambiguous, but I'd be very surprised if our Royal Mail refused mail that used a variant form of the country name. Millions of us used to send postcards home from abroad, addressed as Angleterre/Inglaterra/Inghilterra or whatever without any difficulty. Or maybe it's an issue in the US mail system?
  #6  
Old 12-09-2017, 05:30 AM
bob++ bob++ is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Worcestershire UK
Posts: 5,587
The country part is more important in the country of origin, so that they send it to the right place. I would have thought that Great Britain or England would be fine; Scotland would probably be okay, but not Wales, N. Ireland or any other abbreviation like UK or GB.

When we used to send postcards (remember them?) from our holidays, we would always write England at the end of the address in the local language - "Angleterre/Inglaterra/Inghilterra "

Just to reinforce what Patrick said - it is vital to get the postcode correct and to write it in block capitals. We got a Christmas card yesterday with our name, but the wrong street and no number on it. The postcode was correct though, and we only share that with nine other houses.
  #7  
Old 12-09-2017, 06:43 AM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Greenbelt, Maryland
Posts: 13,729
I have many times mailed things to the U.K. where I put down England at the bottom of the address. It's always gotten there. You should always include the postcode (that thing that looks like SW1A 1AA or whatever). This is the equivalent of the zip code in the U.S. Although they say you should write the rest of the address in a format which makes the address take up more space, often as many as five lines, that's really not a big deal. I have often written the address in a format closer to an American address and it's gotten there.
  #8  
Old 12-09-2017, 07:06 AM
Aspidistra Aspidistra is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 4,434
Quote:
Originally Posted by bibliophage View Post
Now I'm seeing some websites that claim "England" and/or "The United Kingdom" are acceptable. All I know is that the last time I mailed something to England (maybe ten years ago), my local postmistress told me it had to be "Great Britain and Northern Ireland."
I've got 33 years of sending letters marked "U.K." says she's wrong.
  #9  
Old 12-09-2017, 08:43 AM
Meurglys Meurglys is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Edinburgh
Posts: 2,242
Yeah, any time I've sent postcards home from abroad I've put U.K. and they've always turned up ok. I figure two big, clear letters will be easier to read than my scrawl of anything else!

The postcode is important but I must admit that we've had mail turn up with the wrong street number or slightly wrong postcode. A couple of times with a slightly inaccurate address but also with just our given names!
We have good postmen!
  #10  
Old 12-09-2017, 08:56 AM
RivkahChaya RivkahChaya is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 9,334
I've sent plenty of stuff from the US to the UK, and it's gotten there fine. I write out UNITED KINGDOM, just like that, in all caps and underlined. When I have been abroad, I have addressed things to USA, all caps, underlined. I get stuff addressed to USA as well.

I was always taught to underline the country. Not sure why. I suppose because there are cities and counties in the US named for foreign nations. I mean, it ought to be pretty self-explanatory, but who knows. You get someone there on there first day at the PO, who knows there a city in Indiana called Brazil, but hasn't heard of the country? it's possible. I just met someone who has a high school diploma and a year of technical school, who didn't know there was such a country as Portugal. Oy.
  #11  
Old 12-09-2017, 09:22 AM
HoneyBadgerDC HoneyBadgerDC is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Torrance Ca
Posts: 7,305
I am having trouble deciphering between the street name and city, they are all run together. Then there looks to be another city name after the postal code??
  #12  
Old 12-09-2017, 11:01 AM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Greenbelt, Maryland
Posts: 13,729
Yeah, that happens sometimes, like in the address in the official address advice in the link given in post #2:

Miss S Pollard
1 Chapel Hill
Heswall
BOURNEMOUTH
BH1 1AA

What this means is that Pollard lives on a street named Chapel Hill at the house with the number 1 on that street. The neighborhood or suburb that she lives in is called Heswall. Heswall is part of (or near to) the city of Bournemouth. It's possible that in the address you were given, HoneyBadgerDC, the name of the city was written after the postcode instead of before it.

Note: I'm pretending that the address given in the official address advice is real. It's clearly not. There's no Chapel Hill in Bournemouth or in Heswall, and those two places are far apart. Incidentally, you might wonder whether Heswall is a suburb of Bournemouth or a neighborhood of it. It's not very clear in the U.K. from an address which is true. Addresses with two cities in them, like this pretend one, are common. The city name toward the bottom of the address is the bigger city, and the city name toward the middle is the smaller one.

You might try using Google Maps to figure out exactly where the person who you're sending the letter to lives and use that to straighten out the address.
  #13  
Old 12-09-2017, 11:47 AM
WotNot WotNot is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Northumbria
Posts: 2,664
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner View Post
Note: I'm pretending that the address given in the official address advice is real. It's clearly not. There's no Chapel Hill in Bournemouth or in Heswall, and those two places are far apart. Incidentally, you might wonder whether Heswall is a suburb of Bournemouth or a neighborhood of it. It's not very clear in the U.K. from an address which is true. Addresses with two cities in them, like this pretend one, are common. The city name toward the bottom of the address is the bigger city, and the city name toward the middle is the smaller one.
This where different terminology can cause confusion: in British usage, neither Heswall nor Bournemouth is a city, they're both towns. In the example, Bournemouth is the Post Town, and Heswall may be a suburb or district of Bournemouth, or an entirely separate town or village which merely happens to have its mail distributed through Bournemouth for logistical reasons.
__________________
Disclaimer
  #14  
Old 12-09-2017, 11:52 AM
Baron Greenback Baron Greenback is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Scotland
Posts: 10,701
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner View Post
1
BH1 1AA

<snipped out lots>
Once the piece of mail is in the UK postal system, this is all that's really needed.

Last edited by Baron Greenback; 12-09-2017 at 11:54 AM.
  #15  
Old 12-09-2017, 11:55 AM
HoneyBadgerDC HoneyBadgerDC is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Torrance Ca
Posts: 7,305
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner View Post
Yeah, that happens sometimes, like in the address in the official address advice in the link given in post #2:

Miss S Pollard
1 Chapel Hill
Heswall
BOURNEMOUTH
BH1 1AA

What this means is that Pollard lives on a street named Chapel Hill at the house with the number 1 on that street. The neighborhood or suburb that she lives in is called Heswall. Heswall is part of (or near to) the city of Bournemouth. It's possible that in the address you were given, HoneyBadgerDC, the name of the city was written after the postcode instead of before it.

Note: I'm pretending that the address given in the official address advice is real. It's clearly not. There's no Chapel Hill in Bournemouth or in Heswall, and those two places are far apart. Incidentally, you might wonder whether Heswall is a suburb of Bournemouth or a neighborhood of it. It's not very clear in the U.K. from an address which is true. Addresses with two cities in them, like this pretend one, are common. The city name toward the bottom of the address is the bigger city, and the city name toward the middle is the smaller one.

You might try using Google Maps to figure out exactly where the person who you're sending the letter to lives and use that to straighten out the address.
I will try that
  #16  
Old 12-09-2017, 12:01 PM
Dewey Finn Dewey Finn is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 24,990
The oddity I remember from trips to England was that many houses had names, usually cutesy ones. But I doubt those are used in the addresses.
  #17  
Old 12-09-2017, 12:22 PM
RobDog RobDog is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: London, England
Posts: 1,838
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey Finn View Post
The oddity I remember from trips to England was that many houses had names, usually cutesy ones. But I doubt those are used in the addresses.
They absolutely are. My house, and all my neighbours' within at least a mile's radius, have only names, no numbers.

Last edited by RobDog; 12-09-2017 at 12:23 PM.
  #18  
Old 12-09-2017, 12:23 PM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Greenbelt, Maryland
Posts: 13,729
If the postcode BH1 1AA gets you just Chapel Hill street, that's true, Baron Greenback. It's true in the U.S. too. If you put just my family's last name and the zip code of the town nearest the farm we lived on, it should have gotten to our mailbox, since we were the only ones with that name anywhere close to that very small town. I wouldn't get in a habit of putting down a minimalist address. Any one mistake in it would mean the letter wouldn't get there. For what it's worth, in the pretend address given in the official address advice, I would have included the county that Bournemouth is in. I think it's best to give the post office as much information as you can rather than playing minimalism games. Incidentally, perhaps the ultimate in minimalism was when a letter made it from New Zealand to Mad's editorial offices in New York with just a picture of Alfred E. Newman on it.
  #19  
Old 12-09-2017, 12:25 PM
bob++ bob++ is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Worcestershire UK
Posts: 5,587
Many houses do have "cutesy" names and most of the time they will have a street number as well. This is not invariable, however, especially in rural villages. Many farms, for example, are addressed by heir name - Marsh Farm etc -rather than a number and a street.
  #20  
Old 12-09-2017, 12:31 PM
HoneyBadgerDC HoneyBadgerDC is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Torrance Ca
Posts: 7,305
Thank you all so much, I got some direct help via private message, exactly what I needed. Thanks all again.
  #21  
Old 12-09-2017, 12:34 PM
RobDog RobDog is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: London, England
Posts: 1,838
If you are ever desperately bored, and you want to know exactly how the Royal Mail stores and processes UK addresses, then go here:

https://www.poweredbypaf.com/using-o...data-yourself/

and download the 237 page PDF in the link "Download the programmer's guide"

which I had to do for a web-based database system I wrote for a client. Go on, I don't see why I should be the only one who had to suffer
  #22  
Old 12-09-2017, 01:20 PM
HoneyBadgerDC HoneyBadgerDC is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Torrance Ca
Posts: 7,305
Quote:
Originally Posted by RobDog View Post
If you are ever desperately bored, and you want to know exactly how the Royal Mail stores and processes UK addresses, then go here:

https://www.poweredbypaf.com/using-o...data-yourself/

and download the 237 page PDF in the link "Download the programmer's guide"

which I had to do for a web-based database system I wrote for a client. Go on, I don't see why I should be the only one who had to suffer
Purely as a show of support I should go read it.
  #23  
Old 12-09-2017, 01:45 PM
Mk VII Mk VII is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: England
Posts: 2,727
The ''postal town', for a small settlement, provides the Post Office with the correct sorting office that they will send the mail to before preparing it for local delivery. The one for Brookwood is WOKING, but it doesn't mean Brookwood is a political subdivision of Woking. If you put GUILDFORD which is arguably almost as close, there will probably be a delay before it gets redirected. In some sparsely populated areas the postal town may be a long way away. And the postcode may even be based on the initials of a completely different town.
It's no longer necessary to include the county as the postcode does the job instead, though some older people include it anyway.
  #24  
Old 12-09-2017, 02:26 PM
beowulff beowulff is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Scottsdale, more-or-less
Posts: 15,039
Quote:
Originally Posted by RobDog View Post
They absolutely are. My house, and all my neighbours' within at least a mile's radius, have only names, no numbers.
What kind of names?
  #25  
Old 12-09-2017, 07:18 PM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Posts: 13,688
Quote:
Originally Posted by RivkahChaya View Post
I've sent plenty of stuff from the US to the UK, and it's gotten there fine. I write out UNITED KINGDOM, just like that, in all caps and underlined. When I have been abroad, I have addressed things to USA, all caps, underlined. I get stuff addressed to USA as well.

I was always taught to underline the country. Not sure why.
Currently, the US Postal Service strongly advises against underlining in addresses.

Apparently, this tends to confuse the Optical Character Reader software that scans the envelope, identifies the address, and imprints the full delivery point barcode on the bottom. These automated scanners process most of the mail. If your envelope can't be read by the automated scanners, it gets pulled out for manual processing. This could delay your letter for a bit, maybe up to a day longer. But it should still get there. If it's going from the USA to a foreign country, probably all the USPS does is route it to a batch going to the United kingdom -- once it gets there, the UK Postal Authorities deliver it the rest of the way.
  #26  
Old 12-09-2017, 07:23 PM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Southeast Florida USA
Posts: 21,040
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner View Post
...
I think it's best to give the post office as much information as you can rather than playing minimalism games. Incidentally, perhaps the ultimate in minimalism was when a letter made it from New Zealand to Mad's editorial offices in New York with just a picture of Alfred E. Newman on it.
Then again, one picture is worth a thousand words.

I'll be here all week. Try the veal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mk VII View Post
The ''postal town', for a small settlement, provides the Post Office with the correct sorting office that they will send the mail to before preparing it for local delivery. The one for Brookwood is WOKING, but it doesn't mean Brookwood is a political subdivision of Woking. If you put GUILDFORD which is arguably almost as close, there will probably be a delay before it gets redirected. In some sparsely populated areas the postal town may be a long way away. And the postcode may even be based on the initials of a completely different town.
...
This is substantially US practice as well for sparse areas.

Unsurprisingly since the underlying problem is the same: distribute stuff to a wide area efficiently where political divisions are essentially irrelevant other than as names.
  #27  
Old 12-10-2017, 05:32 AM
Melbourne Melbourne is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 3,369
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner View Post
If the postcode BH1 1AA gets you just Chapel Hill street, that's true, Baron Greenback. It's true in the U.S. too. ... I think it's best to give the post office as much information as you can rather than playing minimalism games.
It's not a game: it a difference between the way UK addresses work and American (and Australian) addresses work.

Australia uses zip codes. A zip code more-or-less corresponded to a mail bag in the even older aus system. Everything with the same zip code sorted to the same bag, which would then be sorted for delivery. Aus now uses "delivery point" codes internally instead of zip codes, because "a mail bag" is no longer a useful sorting system.

The UK system is closer to a "deliver point" number than it is to a typical American zip code. A delivery point number is a complete address: a UK postcode is an almost complete address. The UK is unusual in exposing to the public the fine-grained internal-use mail code -- that causes some problems for the post office, because it means internally they are locked into using the same system that the public uses. Internally for the post office, it's like you could never change your address, because you would never be able to get mail again.
  #28  
Old 12-10-2017, 05:55 AM
bob++ bob++ is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Worcestershire UK
Posts: 5,587
Quote:
Originally Posted by Melbourne View Post
The UK is unusual in exposing to the public the fine-grained internal-use mail code -- that causes some problems for the post office, because it means internally they are locked into using the same system that the public uses. Internally for the post office, it's like you could never change your address, because you would never be able to get mail again.
That makes no sense at all for me. My address is where I live; if I moved to another house, that would have its own address.

Postcodes have become ingrained into British life in a way never envisaged by the originators nearly 60 years ago. Some big cities already had divisions (N, S, SW, etc) but this went a lot further. The idea was simply to make sorting by machine easier, but it wasn't long before insurance companies realised that they were a good way to divide the country up into risk areas. Now, everyone who uses satellite navigation uses the postcode as a convenient way to enter a destination.
  #29  
Old 12-10-2017, 06:06 AM
Filbert Filbert is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 3,953
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey Finn View Post
The oddity I remember from trips to England was that many houses had names, usually cutesy ones. But I doubt those are used in the addresses.
On my parents street, which is in a small English village, the first 10 houses have names, and the houses are written like 'Moss House, New Street', then the street inexplicably adds a name, and the next house on the street is '1 Mayfield, New Street', the 'Mayfield' houses go up to 15, then it gets dropped, with the next house, halfway up the street, being, finally, '1 New Street'. We had to redeliver a lot of post living there, every time they get a new postie. Even by English standards their street's confusing.

I actually worked in a UK sorting office as a Christmas temp a couple of years ago, and overseas stuff arrived with almost every permutation of 'England', 'UK', 'GB', 'Britain', 'Angleterre' etc that you could think of, though I don't think I saw 'Great Britain and Northern Ireland' on any parcel.

The dumb thing I saw most often was people posting from the UK to the US (and one to Australia) using just the state abbreviation, with no 'USA' (or 'Australia') written anywhere on the packet. Well, and the cards addressed to 'Bob and Mary' with no further details.
  #30  
Old 12-10-2017, 09:11 AM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Greenbelt, Maryland
Posts: 13,729
Melbourne writes:

> The UK system is closer to a "deliver point" number than it is to a typical American zip code.

It depends whether you're talking about a five-digit American zip code or a nine-digit one. Some people in the U.S. only use the first five digits of the zip code. That system began in 1963. Before then, in some big cities, there was a system just for that city where you put a number between the city name and the state name. The U.S. Post Office decided that this wasn't good enough, so they began the five-digit zip codes in 1963. The five-digit zip code more or less identifies where your local post office is. In 1983 the nine-digit zip code system began to be used. The nine-digit zip codes gets an address down to a much smaller region. Some people don't bother with the last four digits of those nine digits. So the three systems are:

Urbanville 9, State (until 1963)
Urbanville, State 99999 (1963 to 1983)
Urbanville, State 99999-9999 (1983 to present)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZIP_Code
  #31  
Old 12-10-2017, 09:14 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 42,331
Quote:
Originally Posted by bob++ View Post
The country part is more important in the country of origin, so that they send it to the right place. I would have thought that Great Britain or England would be fine; Scotland would probably be okay, but not Wales, N. Ireland or any other abbreviation like UK or GB.
UK is fine in the US. I've always sent my mail that way (perhaps marking it "United Kingdom" if I was feeling particularly verbose.) It's apparently the standard United States Postal Abbreviation for Great Britain..

Last edited by pulykamell; 12-10-2017 at 09:15 AM.
  #32  
Old 12-10-2017, 10:16 AM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Southeast Florida USA
Posts: 21,040
Quote:
Originally Posted by Melbourne View Post
It's not a game: it a difference between the way UK addresses work and American (and Australian) addresses work.
...
IMO Wendell's earlier reference to "games" was about the idea of users deliberately providing the minimum possible information to the post office, rather than providing a full address with all the redundant (and potentially conflicting) information.

Yes, one could address a letter to
Person Name
PostalCode
Country
and have some expectation of it arriving in the right place eventually. But that'd be playing games with the post office(s), not using the system as it was intended.


Continuing Wendell's explanation of US zip codes ...

As a practical example:

My city of ~80,000 people is divided into two 5-digit zip codes. I live in a condo building. It's a single contiguous building with 94 apartments. The 94 apartments comprise 12 separate 9-digit zip codes. My particular 9-digit code represents 10 apartments and about 5 frontage feet in our communal wall of mailboxes.

So US practice is quite like UK practice, where the full zip code is a delivery point. Where we differ is that to ease the initial transition back in 1983, the authorities made the last 4 digits optional. So being the terminally lazy and conservative sorts 'Merkins are, the public utterly ignores the last 4.


bob++ just said something I'd never thought of. Which may be the key to getting 'Merkins to start using the full 9-digit zip. That is, using the full delivery point code as shorthand for an address when entering it into a phone, GPS, etc.

I just tested that idea. Both Google maps and Bing maps do not respond to a full 9-digit zip. At least not in my area. Google maps draws the 5-digit zip boundary and centers the view on it. Bing maps just drops a pin on the centroid and centers there. Both apps ignore the last 4 digits. The navigation app on my Android phone is based on Google maps and does the same.

It seems we've got a ways to go yet with this solution.

Last edited by LSLGuy; 12-10-2017 at 10:20 AM.
  #33  
Old 12-10-2017, 02:50 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: England
Posts: 56,993
The most critical parts of a UK postal address are the street address and the postcode - in fact, they're the only truly necessary parts - postcode denotes a unit about the size of an average street (some streets span multiple postcodes) - and house number/name + postcode represents a unique address.

So you can reliably get a letter, inland, to its destination with literally just the house number and the postcode (yes, I have actually tested this - it works) - but more is better - and I wouldn't want to try just house number, postcode and UK from overseas.

A 'full' address would normally be:
Addressee name
House number/name and street/road name
Town or district
Postal City
Postcode
Country

It used to be the case that county was included between postal city and postcode, but Royal Mail (and other carriers who typically use the same address sources) dropped it some years ago.
  #34  
Old 12-10-2017, 08:35 PM
MacSpon MacSpon is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 961
Sometimes, you can get away with startlingly little by way of an address.

For example, Peterhouse, one of the colleges at Cambridge, has its own postcode. My brother, who got his PhD at Cambridge, tells me of a case where a letter was addressed to "name, CB2 1RD, England", and reached the addressee promptly.
  #35  
Old 12-10-2017, 09:48 PM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Posts: 13,688
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacSpon View Post
Sometimes, you can get away with startlingly little by way of an address.
My mother once got a letter addressed like this:
Mona (her first name)
(zip code)
and nothing else. But it arrived, without apparent delay.
I guess it helps to live in a small town (12,000 people) for 70 years, and be active in civic life.
  #36  
Old 12-10-2017, 11:19 PM
UDS UDS is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Australia
Posts: 7,844
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacSpon View Post
Sometimes, you can get away with startlingly little by way of an address.

For example, Peterhouse, one of the colleges at Cambridge, has its own postcode. My brother, who got his PhD at Cambridge, tells me of a case where a letter was addressed to "name, CB2 1RD, England", and reached the addressee promptly.
Lots of institutions in the UK have their own postcode - each of the Oxford and Cambridge colleges doed, I think. Sometimes a large institution will have separate postcodes for its different departments

Even if a postcode refers, as is more typical, to a group of houses, there's every chance that the postman knows who lives in which house, and so a letter addressed to [name], [postcode] stands an excellent chance of being delivered with minimal or no delay.
  #37  
Old 12-11-2017, 03:03 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: England
Posts: 56,993
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacSpon View Post
Sometimes, you can get away with startlingly little by way of an address.

For example, Peterhouse, one of the colleges at Cambridge, has its own postcode. My brother, who got his PhD at Cambridge, tells me of a case where a letter was addressed to "name, CB2 1RD, England", and reached the addressee promptly.
I've done that experiment too. Seems to work OK as long as the recipient is receiving other mail (and so their name would be known to the person delivering the round that includes the postcode).

If you tried that with the name of a person who seldom receives postal mail, or has just recently moved into the area, the delivery would more likely fail.

I also did experiments to try to determine how small a postcard I could send (because the system specifies upper limits of size only). Postcards a little smaller than a business card arrived OK. Postcards the same size as the stamp, or twice the size of the stamp, never made it through the system.
  #38  
Old 12-11-2017, 04:43 AM
I Love Me, Vol. I I Love Me, Vol. I is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Bay Area, CA
Posts: 3,944
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
So you can reliably get a letter, inland, to its destination with literally just the house number and the postcode (yes, I have actually tested this - it works) - but more is better - and I wouldn't want to try just house number, postcode and UK from overseas.

A 'full' address would normally be:
Addressee name
House number/name and street/road name
Town or district
Postal City
Postcode
Country
I'm not sure I understand the need for the "Postal City" when a post code is listed*. Sure, more information is better but it seems overkill.

I'm not saying the US Post Office way of doing things is better but the equivalent in the USA of the UK address would be like adding in the name of the regional sorting center in the address (which we would never do because A: we don't know what the sorting center is and, B: the zip code (postal code) sends the letter to the proper regional sorting center).




*I mean, I DO understand the need in the sense of... do it because that's what the postal service wants.
  #39  
Old 12-11-2017, 04:45 AM
Lord Feldon Lord Feldon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Central Ohio
Posts: 5,312
The USA uses postal cities too. The "city" on a US mailing address is just an alias for a Zip Code. It's usually, but not always, the name of the post office that sorts your mail for delivery. It's redundant because redundancy is good in addresses. Otherwise one transposed digit would make your mail undeliverable.

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 12-11-2017 at 04:49 AM.
  #40  
Old 12-11-2017, 05:12 AM
Filbert Filbert is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 3,953
Quote:
Originally Posted by I Love Me, Vol. I View Post
I'm not sure I understand the need for the "Postal City" when a post code is listed*. Sure, more information is better but it seems overkill.
It's just the backup for ambiguous handwriting; working in the central sorting office, we'd get handwritten postcodes that could have started with either B55 or BS5. One of those is in Birmingham, one is in Bristol. It should make it either way, but if the people doing the sorting (and the machine would definitely spit that one out, so it would be hand sorted) can't tell which it is from the rest of the address, it'd go in the '?' pile either for someone who really knows the area concerned to look at, or have the street looked up; or the sorter might guess, stick it in the appropriate slot, and maybe sent it on a pointless round trip if they guess wrong. It's likely to take a day or so longer either way, unless the sorter guessed right, which could be cut out if the person had just written the city on.

I got the impression that most delivery mix-ups happen at the city level, as the closer the letter gets to the destination, the more the people dealing with it know the area. Even only working for a month as a temp, I got to know several of the typical local misspellings, uses of old discontinued postcode regions and other assorted common errors for the area I was working with.

I mean, you can play this sort of stuff (Irish postal service, not English), and it's quite funny, but not if you want to get stuff delivered in a reasonable time.
  #41  
Old 12-11-2017, 09:18 AM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Southeast Florida USA
Posts: 21,040
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Feldon View Post
The USA uses postal cities too. The "city" on a US mailing address is just an alias for a Zip Code. It's usually, but not always, the name of the post office that sorts your mail for delivery. It's redundant because redundancy is good in addresses. Otherwise one transposed digit would make your mail undeliverable.
This.

It's further disguised because for many decades rural congressmen were very effective at getting a post office (and some jobs) installed in each and every Podunk town. With the effect that to a first approximation every town had a post office and every town had a zip code. So depending on where someone lives and how many places they've lived, it's easy for folks to mistakenly conclude that one-to-one-to-one correspondence is universal.

That policy came to an end 30-some years ago. Especially as applied to the developing suburbs at the border between older burbs and ruralia. For years I lived in one such burb where our address was
LSLGuy
123 OurStreet
OurCity, OurState OurZip
But our mail was totally processed by a post office in a different municipality with a different postal city name which was responsible for several zipcodes, 3 municipalities beyond its namesake, and a lot of nearby unincorporated farmland.
  #42  
Old 12-11-2017, 03:50 PM
Melbourne Melbourne is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 3,369
Quote:
Originally Posted by LSLGuy View Post
This.

It's further disguised because for many decades rural congressmen were very effective at getting a post office (and some jobs) installed in each and every Podunk town. With the effect that to a first approximation every town had a post office and every town had a zip code. So depending on where someone lives and how many places they've lived, it's easy for folks to mistakenly conclude that one-to-one-to-one correspondence is universal.

That policy came to an end 30-some years ago. .
Before automatic sorting machines, mail was sorted by hand. At your local post office they'd sort local mail out, and deliver the rest to the sorting centre. The sorting centre would sort out local mail and mail for other sorting centres. Local mail would go back out to the post offices, where it would be sorted for delivery.

In that system, there was no advantage to centerlising all the post offices. Somebody had to sort and deliver the local mail.

In theory, that system could have ended 50 years ago, with improvements in transportation and automatic sorting, but (1) the new systems didn't work properly 50 years ago, and (2) people didn't want it.

(In my system now, mail is sorted to delivery routes at central sorting, and the route bags are delivered to a pickup bux near me. My local postoffice is just a shop: they deliver to mail boxes inside the shop, and store parcels for collection, but they aren't involved with delivery or collection to any extent)
  #43  
Old 12-11-2017, 04:19 PM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Southeast Florida USA
Posts: 21,040
Yeah. It's nearly impossible to close a US small-town post office today until the town and surrounding population shrinks below 10. The locals put up such a fuss that the Congresscritter defends it to the death.

I also suspect that in, say, 1900 a much larger percentage of what we call "first class" mail (pretty much anything other than junk mail / advertising material) was addressed to someplace in the local PO's area, or failing that, the first level sorting center's area. So central sorting would've been wasteful as a large percentage of mail would be wagon-ed/trucked right back to where it originated.

Nowadays with substantially zero person-to-person mail, pretty much the only first class mail is monthly bills flowing from utilities, credit cards, bank lenders and such to customers. And the checks flowing the other way. The vast majority of this stuff will not be addressed locally.

As such, even if we still had the small-town mini-sorts feeding up the hierarchy, darn near everything would end up transiting one or more state- or multi-state major regional sorting centers on its way to/from the eventual sources and destinations.


The Post in all its varying national incarnations is actually a pretty amazing invention and a monstrously large logistical effort / network for as early in human history as it came about.

Last edited by LSLGuy; 12-11-2017 at 04:23 PM.
  #44  
Old 12-11-2017, 04:59 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: England
Posts: 56,993
Quote:
Originally Posted by I Love Me, Vol. I View Post
I'm not sure I understand the need for the "Postal City" when a post code is listed*. Sure, more information is better but it seems overkill.
It's not a critical part of the address - and I think it's probably only included for human-readable legacy (maybe also as an additional layer of information redundancy against erroneous or damaged postcodes.

Actually, now I think about it, it's probably there because if you ask for street, town, city and postcode, and people can't remember the postcode, then street, town, city will still get it there (street + town alone may not, as there are many duplicates).

My postal address includes the postal town 'Southampton', but I very seldom include it because it feels wrong - in most part because I am closer to two other urban centres which are not that city (they're not postal cities, but they feel more like 'the nearest big place' to me than does Southampton).
  #45  
Old 12-11-2017, 05:13 PM
Mk VII Mk VII is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: England
Posts: 2,727
Quote:
Originally Posted by bob++ View Post
Postcodes have become ingrained into British life in a way never envisaged by the originators nearly 60 years ago. Some big cities already had divisions (N, S, SW, etc) but this went a lot further. The idea was simply to make sorting by machine easier, but it wasn't long before insurance companies realised that they were a good way to divide the country up into risk areas. Now, everyone who uses satellite navigation uses the postcode as a convenient way to enter a destination.
The utility firm I work for classifies all customers seeking service under the postcode. Which can cause problems when the building has multiple postcodes within it, which, typically multi-storey office blocks in London do. It can be hard to know that a cable has already been installed, or how many floors it already serves.
Without a postcode (e.g. on a large private estate with multiple buildings), it's hard to get utilities to deliver service of any kind as the whole thing is bundled under one postcode without finer discrimination (does stop the TV Licencing gestapo coming after you, though, as they don't know you exist).
  #46  
Old 12-11-2017, 05:27 PM
Baron Greenback Baron Greenback is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Scotland
Posts: 10,701
There are non-geographical postcodes too - XX and BX are two that spring to mind. Amazon uses the former for returns, and some large banks use the latter. It gives them some flexibility as to location, without the hassle of redoing all their literature.
  #47  
Old 12-11-2017, 05:57 PM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Southeast Florida USA
Posts: 21,040
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mk VII View Post
The utility firm I work for classifies all customers seeking service under the postcode. Which can cause problems when the building has multiple postcodes within it, which, typically multi-storey office blocks in London do. It can be hard to know that a cable has already been installed, or how many floors it already serves.
...
I'm one of those problems. I mentioned up-thread that I live in a 94-unit building with 12 postcodes assigned. The single building consists of two wings, each with a different street address. I live in the central "bridge" that connects the two wings. When we moved in we had trouble getting service turned on with the cable TV/internet people. The other utilities switched over just fine.

We finally sorted out that our power, water, and postal address come from the building's left wing, while our cable comes from the right wing. So my 4-room flat's billing and service delivery addresses are in different postcodes with different street addresses.
  #48  
Old 12-11-2017, 06:17 PM
pdhenry pdhenry is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: PA
Posts: 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by LSLGuy View Post
So US practice is quite like UK practice, where the full zip code is a delivery point. Where we differ is that to ease the initial transition back in 1983, the authorities made the last 4 digits optional. So being the terminally lazy and conservative sorts 'Merkins are, the public utterly ignores the last 4.
Automated sorting machinery parses the complete address and looks up the +4 code. It's encoded in the barcode that gets ink-jetted near the bottom edge of the envelope.
  #49  
Old 12-12-2017, 05:35 AM
gracer gracer is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: UK & Netherlands for now.
Posts: 2,771
Quote:
Originally Posted by beowulff View Post
What kind of names?
My mum was born in a Rose Cottage, which looked as described on the tin. There are thousands of Rose Cottages. Other names will be "Primrose Farm" or "Pendle Hill House" or "Northend Farmhouse" or "The Old Rectory" or "The Willows". My father's parents had a house built and let my father name it, so it ended up "Rivendell", which they thought was very pretty, never heard it before.

In Wales names are Welsh, like "Blaen Y Cwm" [end of the valley] and "Bryn Bach" [small hill] and "Ffridd Fawr" [big pasture].

Apologies if you wanted to know what the houses around RobDog are called, I obviously don't know. These are just random examples of what houses can be called in England and Wales. Not sure if that was your question.
  #50  
Old 12-12-2017, 05:52 AM
RivkahChaya RivkahChaya is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 9,334
Quote:
Originally Posted by t-bonham@scc.net View Post
Currently, the US Postal Service strongly advises against underlining in addresses.

Apparently, this tends to confuse the Optical Character Reader software that scans the envelope, identifies the address, and imprints the full delivery point barcode on the bottom. These automated scanners process most of the mail. If your envelope can't be read by the automated scanners, it gets pulled out for manual processing. This could delay your letter for a bit, maybe up to a day longer. But it should still get there. If it's going from the USA to a foreign country, probably all the USPS does is route it to a batch going to the United kingdom -- once it gets there, the UK Postal Authorities deliver it the rest of the way.
I was taught to do that a long time ago, probably before foreign mail was sorted by automatic sorters, and you wanted to call attention to it, so it wouldn't go into the automatic sorters. Of course, this is back when you used the air mail envelopes, and everything. Anyway, in the interim, no one (until now) has ever told me anything different.
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:43 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2017 Sun-Times Media, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017