Two years after its launch, is Eircode fit for purpose?

We take a closer look at the postcode system

Two years on from the launch of Eircode, how is the system being used by people and businesses across Ireland, if at all? 

Eircode is a 7 digit postcode that was launched back in 2015. The first three digits of the code are the routing key. There are 130 routing keys around the country. Then there is a unique identifier, made up of letter and numbers. More than 35% of addresses in Ireland share their address with at least one other property around the country. Each Eircode is unique, meaning those making deliveries or looking to find a property for service purposes can do so with ease.

The was controversy around the system from the outset, not least of all, the €38 million price-tag. Two years on from the launch, Managing Director of Eircode, Liam Duggan, reflects on how things are going from his point of view. 

"It's been great. We said when we launched that it would be between three and five years before the system is bedded down. That's the experience internationally. We're only in year two. The national ambulance service is using it currently and they swear by it. They certainly say they've managed to get to accidents and people's homes an awful lot quicker in a lot of instances than they would have previously. One of the things we did over the last year is implemented Eircode into Google Maps, so now anyone with a smartphone can use it."

The AA will now also display Eircodes on their signs for big events, such as The National Ploughing Championships, to help direct people to the event. The number of applications for Eircode is on the rise.

Ikea and Power City, for example, ask for the Eircode now as part of their delivery service. Power City say that this increases the number of deliveries made per day. 

An Post

While every property in the country has its own Eircode, the system has not impacted how An Post make their deliveries. Liam Duggan explained that An Post is a service that needed Eircode the least.

Anna McHugh, Head of Corporate Communications outlined how An Post interact with the system. 

"If it appears on an envelope, our sorting technology can read it and use it for sortation purposes. It has always been the case that we need a full postal address at the delivery end. We encourage the use of Eircode, but it we do require the full address."

The Freight Transport Association of Ireland has been highly critical of Eircode in the past. I met with Aidan Flynn, General Manager, and he explained a recent survey of members found that 65% of businesses said Eircode was not important to their business, with 13% considering it to be a waste of time. I asked Aidan, why he thinks that is.

"It's not sequential. I think there is a lack of proper engagement with the industry in finding a system that suited their needs. Guys who are delivering 40 or 50,000 parcels a day have very technologically advanced systems. Eircode just didn't seem to fit into it. The industry doesn't seem to trust it, it looks like a money spinner. I think for it to work it either needed to be mandatory or free". 

It’s possible to search for up to 15 Eircodes in one day for free, but any more than that and you are a business customer in the eyes of Eircode, so should be paying for the service. This seems to be a big bone of contention for the FTA Ireland. 

Fit for purpose 

The message from Liam Duggan, MD of Eircode is that the system is fit for purpose. It was said from the outset and the Minister for Communications has said it in the recent past – it’ll take 3 to 5 years for the system to be fully bedded down. That being said, however, I spoke to someone earlier in the week whose family home address is simply the family surname, an area name followed by the county. They have not received an Eircode and are struggling to find it out.

Here are just some of your views on the issue: