Free Our Data: the blog

A Guardian Technology campaign for free public access to data about the UK and its citizens


Want the Postcode Address File for free? Just ask (updated)

Some more remarkable achievements by the Showusabetterway website – the competition set up by the UK government asking people to suggest ways to use its data to create mashups and new services, and offering a £20,000 prize for a winner. (Or possibly winners. But read on.)

The latest win: the Royal Mail is joining in, offering its Postcode Address File. Yes, you can argue that it ought to make that available for free anyway, but let’s change the world one piece at a time.

To get the full file, all you need to do – as the site explains – is to email the Royal Mail.

For full access you should email the Address Management Unit at address.management@royalmail.com Put ‘Show Us A Better Way’ in your subject heading so they know to prioritise your request.

Please also in the email say (a) the format you’d like it in (given on the details page) and your physical address, so they can send you the data on CD if you want it.

(The link above will fill in the email with the subject line pre-filled.)

This is a hell of an achievement. As I understand it, the licences will only be valid through to the end of July, so be quick. But if you’ve ever needed to see what the full PAF looks like, here’s your chance.

Obviously, we would not condone using it in ways that breach the Royal Mail licence. We’re aiming to do this legally. But it’s definitely another success for the Power of Information taskforce and Tom Watson in the Cabinet Office. He said he’d have a go on June 29th; now he’s achieved it. Three weeks? For government and licensing regimes, that’s fast.

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