UK postcodes – Esri shapefiles for postcode areas and districts

ESRI shapefiles · royalty free for commercial use


This Esri shapefiles version of our detailed UK postcodes map is strictly for people using specialist GIS software (Geographic Information System) such as:

  • QGIS (free open-source software)
  • ArcGIS (proprietary software by Esri)
  • MAPublisher (proprietary software by Avenza – a plugin for Adobe Illustrator)
  • GeoTools (Java)
  • Any other GIS software capable of reading Esri shapefiles

If you don’t use GIS software, please see our other postcode maps.

The screenshot shows the shapefile layers imported into QGIS software, ready to be worked on.
The screenshot shows the shapefile layers imported into QGIS software, ready to be worked on.

What’s included

In this bundle are shapefiles for the UK’s top-level postcode areas (i.e. the first 1-2 letters of a postcode: G, SW, AB etc) and also second-level postcode districts (i.e. the first 4-letters-digits of a postcode: G73, SW1A, AB14 etc). Northern Ireland postcodes are included alongside Great Britain postcodes.

Shapefiles included with the UK postcodes bundle
Shapefiles included with the UK postcodes bundle

We include shapefiles for major roads, town points and Eire and the Isle of Man for context. There are also separate layers for the land boundaries of postcode areas and districts – these allow for a refined styling difference for coastal and inland boundaries. Our recommendation is to use a light stroke for inland 4-letter-digit postcode district boundaries, a heavier stroke for inland 2-letter postcode areas, and to leave the underlying postcode polygons un-stroked so that the UK coastal boundaries show their detail.

The postcodes and town points have full attributes, which can be run through your GIS software for rapid labelling.

Example of postcode area attributes in the shapefiles
Example of postcode area attributes
postcode district shapefiles atrributes
Example of postcode district attributes

Sources

Maproom’s shapefiles for UK postcodes are derived in part from Royal Mail’s dataset called Code-Point Open, which is a series of CSV files with eastings and northings for postcode points. We have taken this data and painstakingly translated it into Voronoi polygons for the first part of a postcode’s alphanumeric code, clipped to other data such as coastlines available from Ordnance Survey, and open data for Northern Ireland, plus Maproom’s own plotted data from our other base maps of the UK.

Coordinate System

The files use the British National Grid (10 Figure Grid Reference) coordinate system, which can be decoded as latitude and longitude using EPSG:27700.

Disclaimer

Maproom’s UK postcode shapefiles are accurate enough for most commercial purposes, such as making a colour-coded map of delivery charges based on postcode districts. However, Royal Mail itself no longer follows county boundaries throughout the UK, and provides only points, rather than polygons, as open data. Therefore we do not guarantee accuracy at deep zoom levels in relation to the detail of other imported data such as roads and administrative boundaries.

Where to find shapefiles for postcode sectors and units

Please note, postcode sectors and units – i.e. the second part of a postcode’s code – are NOT included in this bundle. Smaller shapefiles for the detail of 1.6 million postcode units in the UK are available on license from Ordnance Survey or other Royal Mail partners, with the total cost depending on intended usage (typically hundreds of pounds for single or limited usage, rising to thousands of pounds for broader usage). For more info and a free trial sample of postcode unit polygons, see
ordnancesurvey.co.uk/business-and-government/products/code-point-with-polygons.html.

Copyright and credit

Royal Mail owns and controls the copyright of UK postcodes data. These shapefiles are derived in part from Royal Mail open data available from Ordnance Survey. Therefore, you must include the following attribution statement with your final image:

Contains OS, Royal Mail and National Statistics data © Crown and Royal Mail copyright and database rights 2016.

The files are also subject to the standard Maproom royalty free terms and conditions.

Sample and other datasets

The shapefiles are also included in our UK Postcodes Data Formats for Developers and you can download free samples from all the datasets here.