NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum


When I search for the postcode E12 5PG on Open Street Map no results are returned. It's a London postcode that Google Maps seems to pick up easily.

Does anyone know why this might be and if it can be fixed?


asked 02 Oct '18, 10:28

samcarden's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

Postcode data in OSM is sparse, at best. This is because most OSM data is gathered by people either looking at aerial imagery or going out in the field looking at reality, and postcodes simply do not lend themselves to being mapped this way.

Commercial operators, like Google, can buy data sets from those who maintain them, such as the Royal Mail in the UK. OSM does not have the budget for this and, more importantly, one of the points (some would say the point) of OSM is to be freely distributable, and the licensing agreements for bought postcode data would almost certainly not allow that.

permanent link

answered 02 Oct '18, 18:54

turepalsson's gravatar image

accept rate: 25%

Well, it appears that no one has ever bothered to input any data for it into OpenStreetMap. See for yourself: Database query for E12 5PG. In fact very few postcodes have tagged at all in your area of interest: Database query for any postcode. Click on the colored circles/shapes to see the postcode listed. None of those in the database match yours.

Additionally, I believe that the search engine on only returns postcode areas (if they are mapped). It does not identify objects just based on postcode.

So it seems you would need to map any features with this postcode in OpenStreetMap yourself. That's how the map grows.

permanent link

answered 02 Oct '18, 16:45

TZorn's gravatar image

accept rate: 15%

It is odd that this postcode does not return a result. Nominatim does use a complete dataset of postcodes for Great Britain which are stored separately from OSM data. I believe the source is either ONS postcodes of Ordnance Suryey Code Point Open. Both data sets are open data, although Code Point Open had certain restrictions associated with it.

If a postcode is not present in the OSM data (and at present we have perhaps 150k or a little under 10% of the total), Nominatim used to display something like E12 5## and the viewport will be centred on the postcode centroid with a medium zoom level; now it shows the postcode at a higher zoom level (e.g. E12 5PQ).

As the specific postcode is present in the ONS dataset, I can only assume that this specific postcode was omitted from the imported data. I don't believe this list is regularly updated. I would suggest filing a specific bug report on github.

Summary (if above is tldr): the postcode should be detected by Nominatim even though OSM coverage is sparse, because it holds a table of British postcodes from an external source.

1: 5PQ

permanent link

answered 02 Oct '18, 20:58

SK53's gravatar image

SK53 ♦
accept rate: 22%

Follow this question

By Email:

Once you sign in you will be able to subscribe for any updates here



Answers and Comments

Markdown Basics

  • *italic* or _italic_
  • **bold** or __bold__
  • link:[text]( "title")
  • image?![alt text](/path/img.jpg "title")
  • numbered list: 1. Foo 2. Bar
  • to add a line break simply add two spaces to where you would like the new line to be.
  • basic HTML tags are also supported

Question tags:


question asked: 02 Oct '18, 10:28

question was seen: 1,700 times

last updated: 02 Oct '18, 20:58

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum