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A society dedicated to celebrating and promoting the 92 historic counties of the United Kingdom and the important part they play in our culture, heritage and geography.


Be Properly Addressed

Be properly addressed: include your historic county in your postal address

The single most effective way to promote your County is also the easiest. Include the name of your County every time you write down your postal address. Nothing has a greater effect on people’s perception of where they live then their postal address. The name of the historic county is now acceptable within any UK postal address. Its inclusion tells people instantly which County you live in and that you are proud to live in it. It should be a delight to use and add a human touch to your address.

The following table lists the elements of a UK postal address.

Name of addressee                                       Mr. T. Coupe
Name of company (if relevant)                           T. Coupe & Sons
Name of property (not needed if property has a no.)     The Old Bakery 
Number and name of street                               3 Frisby Road
Dependent Locality (if needed)                          Hoby 
Post Town                                               MELTON MOWBRAY
Postal County (optional)                                Leicestershire  
Postcode                                                LE14 3DS

Every UK address requires a post town and a postcode: these should be written in capital letters. Whilst a county line is now an optional feature of an address, it can be included in any UK address if desired.

The county line was historically inserted between the post town and postcode, but where the post town is situated in a different county, it makes more more logical sense to include it as the last line. This way the county can be seen as only applying to part of the post town, rather than suggesting the entire post town is part of that county.

For example:

Arden Road
Clarence Road

As can be seen, Aston, BIRMINGHAM B6 6AP is in Warwickshire and Handsworth, BIRMINGHAM B21 0ED is in Staffordshire.

Useful Tools

The Association of British Counties provides two useful tools to help you find the correct county to put on your addresses:

  • The Gazetteer of British Place Names allows you to search for the appropriate historic county by place name or postcode. Always giving you the best answer, you can also compare administrative areas and see the location pinned on a map.
  • The Historic Counties Postal Directory provides a directory ordered by post town. This is the most useful resource if you are looking for a directory which can be integrated with your address software.

Further Reading

A snippet from the Historic Counties Postal Directory:

There are good reasons to continue to use county names within postal addresses since:

  • they add invaluable geographical information to an address, making it instantly clear approximately where a particular address is located. There are around 1600 Post Towns in the UK. Few people could locate more than a small minority of these from memory. Most businesses, organisations and individuals will want to use a form of postal address from which their location is instantly clear. The county element is extremely useful in this context.
  • they can be vital in enabling a determination of the full postal address on those millions of letters posted everyday where the postcode and/or Post Town names are missing or incorrect. There are numerous duplicate locality and post town names in the UK. The county information is critical to address matching in such cases.

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