New to London? Understanding postcodes

If you are new to London, postcodes may seem a random, meaningless jumble of numbers and letters. Not so, of course. They are full of meaning and import and quite simply, they let you know what part of town you are in.  When you visit London you will fast discover that knowing the postcode of a building makes it so much easier to locate.  Similarly, if you plan to post a letter here (some of us still do) you will find that if the street name is correct but the postcode is wrong or incomplete, your precious correspondence may never reach its destination. London postcodes are important!

London postcodes help you to know where you are and how to find your destination, whether online or in a good old A-Z map. W stands for west, WC stands for west central, E for east, N for north, SW for south west and so on.

Street names are never unique in any capital city and this is especially true in London. Different streets in various parts of town can have the same name, or a slight variation on that name. This can be confusing, especially for visitors, who may not notice the subtle difference. A postcode, however, is unique. With the correct and full postcode, you will be able to find any location you need easily and certainly.

A full London postcode has two sets of letters and numbers that work together, 3 of each. For example, SW3 3NR.  The two sets are written separately and in capital letters. The first set identifies the area and postal district and the second identifies the street and house. Very occasionally, a row of houses on the same street may have the same full postcode, in which case you need to have the correct house number to find the exact location, but this is rare.

If you are new to London you may not realise that postcodes can take on a certain social status, affecting house prices. In the property market, W2 may be a more desirable postcode than W11, even though the two are neighbours.

These days when you visit London, you are more likely to use a postcode to orientate yourself than to post a letter. But it’s always nice to know when you are dropping some letters through a post box (hopefully one of our old red pillar boxes) that it will arrive safely at it’s destination, speeded along by that oh-so-important postcode.

There are several apps and online information that is useful if you are new to London.  They will help you either to find a correct postcode, or to use the postcode you have to make your plans. For example:

Find a postcode


So, it would seem that the intriguing code of London’s postal districts is rather logical and proper, just as we promised.  How very English!  We like to provide those new to London with helpful and interesting information at The London Agent – visit London with us and make your stay problem free and pleasant.