UK Postcode Lookups.....

2014-12-22 03:59
Written by
parvez - member of the CiviCRM community - view blog guidelines

In the UK we’re used to being able to lookup our addresses based on our postcodes and charities add this to their wish lists for their own sites. However, once they establish the costs associated with this, they often find the ROI isn’t in the black and drop the idea.

There’s some good news………

Since July of 2013 Royal Mail unveiled its improved access to Postcode Address file including “Free access to PAF for independent small charitable organisations” i.e. those that have less than £10m per annum income and who are registered charities or CICs. So small charities can now get access to the PAF file for free, which is great, what we are proposing is an extension to allow charities to import the PAF file into CiviCRM (including Updates) and enable Postcode Lookups on Address fields.

There are of course other solutions out there but they’re paid for services and have obviously pushing out words of caution about using the PAF files. However, the power of open source and crowd funding should ensure that we can produce a solution that is not only free to use but functionally able to match, if not better, the paid solutions. We currently have an extension that allows users to lookup addresses using AFD postcode or Experian (you can see an example here) and we’re proposing to enhance this extension to introduce the core PAF files as an option, so you’ll be able to provide your supporters and staff the ability to use Postcode Lookups for free!

Now for the sell……

We need to make the following amendments to the extension;

  • Produce an interface to allow for the upload PAF files, including updates and verfication of file format

  • Amend the postcode lookup to use raw PAF files

  • Amend to allow both public and authenticated use

  • Ensure the extension is easy to deploy

If you’d be interested in hearing more or would like to get involved in one form or another please post your comments here. We’ll push out a wiki page and a MIH in due course…..


Thanks and Merry Xmas from the Veda NFP Consulting Team......


Hey Parvez,

Sounds great, if you start an MIH I'll do what I can. My UK users would love this.


Might be worth considering a "restricted" access to this service as a SaaS thingee like: ziptastic

(open source, code is there, needs to be localized for UK)

lots of advantages and data is in one central place and managed rather than copies of the same data everywhere


Yep, we're in talks with the Royal Mail to establish if this is within their licensing rules as the verification process is not in our control. If its approved for sure it'll be easier for smaller charities and easier for us to maintain.

Good news. I'm sure some of my UK clients would be sufficiently interested to put a few quid into the pot to make this happen.

Anonymous (not verified)
2015-01-06 - 09:41

This sounds great. We're a charity based in London and would be heppy to help with any beta-testing. Or even request the PAF data for development if we can. ;)

Alpha Testers needed.......

We're ready to get some alpha testing done on the postcode extension. We've come up with a scheme similar to the one suggested by Lobo as we felt it would be the easiest to maintain in the long term. We'll publish more information around this once the service is ready to launch.

In the mean time if you'd like to partake in the alpha testing please complete the contact us form at