BFPO - British Forces Post Office
The British armed forces and their families living on base have special addresses, called BFPO Numbers, used for delivery of mail. Both regular letters and parcels can be delivered to any BFPO address regardless of if they are sent via the normal (Royal Mail) post or most couriers. These items are forwarded to the BFPO for onward delivery.
With the increase of good addressing and postcode led systems, members of our forces have found ordering items on the Internet, over the phone, or on other systems with good addressing solutions (such as those AFD provide) more difficult. This is not because the companies they are dealing with have any reason to exclude acceptance of BFPO addresses (although there are some prohibited items). The problem is that not all systems accept a non-Royal Mail postcode or the BFPO number.
This has now been solved by the addition of a special “BF” postcode to cover BFPO addresses. Rather than a number such as “BFPO 15” being the postcode the postcode “BF1 0AA” has been allocated to BFPO 15 and provided with it is a full PAF address. This now means that any solution can automatically include support for BFPO address with no modifications to software required (although some may be desirable for best practice). This should mean that over the coming year as full adoption hopefully takes place that BFPO recipients will be able to order in the same way as any UK resident.
BFPO intend to inform personnel of their “BF” Postcode, our solutions have been fully updated to support entering the BFPO number, e.g. “BFPO 15” for those who do not yet know their postcode.
How easy is it to use this data on my website or application?
BFPO data is included in all AFD PAF based products.
If you are not an AFD customer why not contact us today (01624 811711) to discuss how we can meet your needs in not only serving our troops but in helping to ensure you are making best use of our full range of address and bank validation products across your organisation.
On installing this update your product will now include BF postcodes such as BF1 0AA and they will work with the solutions you have straight away with no additional work required.
However if you want to serve our troops in the best way possible we would recommend you consider customising your data entry forms when a BFPO postcode (starting “BF”) is entered to make entering addresses as easy as possible for those users when you are next looking at updating your interface.
This is because BFPO require that Number, Rank, Name, Sub Unit and Unit details must be entered above the BFPO number. This is analogous to addressee and property information with a normal address. The best solutions will present a form labelled and ready to receive the required additional data rather than leaving the user to best fit it into your existing form.
What would a BFPO address look like?
A BFPO address would look as follows:
987456321 Col. John Brown
Unit 6, Welsh Guards
The data from BFPO 15 down is contained in our products as follows:
Street: BFPO 15
Postcode: BF1 0AA
The data above that needs to be captured from the end-user in the same way as non-address elements for other addresses.
For printed labels BFPO prefer the BFPO number to appear on the last line of the address. However they can handle the postcode and for storage and display clarity we would recommend you keep the address in standard format with the postcode on the last line. If you are able to modify label printing you may wish to consider moving the BFPO number to the last line in such cases.
What is the additional data above the BFPO number and what needs to be captured?
The data above the BFPO number that the user will need to add to the address following lookup is as follows:
- Number - e.g. 987456321
- Rank - e.g. Col
- Name - e.g. John Brown
- Sub Unit - e.g. Unit 6
- Unit - e.g. Welsh Guards
This is no different to an internal flat that doesn’t appear on PAF or an office or department number that a customer of yours may already need to enter after you lookup the address.
With existing forms end-users would likely place this into any property, organisation and/or name fields you have on your form, or squeeze it in with other fields if those are not provided. For best practice we would recommend you considering adding specific fields when a BF postcode is entered to capture this data as listed above.
I would like to present a separate data entry form / change field labels when a BFPO Postcode is entered, what layout would you recommend to best capture this data?
We would recommend presenting a form with the following fields (those blank are for the user to enter):
BFPO Number: BFPO 15
Postcode: BF1 0AA
This allows all the required data to be properly entered, stored and addressed to the customer.
If you are then recording these details in existing database fields you could place the Sub Unit and Unit in your Property field and concatenate the number, rank and name into a name field if you can allow that by relaxing any pre-existing validation rules.
What about any existing BFPO addresses in my database??
The previous format for BFPO addresses without the new postcode is still valid and as such you can still retain those as they are in your database. Our batch address cleaning product, Refiner, has been updated to identify clean and standardise BFPO addresses in your database to the new format so if you think existing BFPO data in your database is inconsistent, poorly formatted or contains errors you may wish to consider purchasing Refiner.
Refiner attempts to clean, by matching to PAF, all addresses in your database so can help standardise and clean any addresses which may have been manually entered, altered or have changed since being originally keyed so can help improve your address quality as a whole.
We send BFPO parcels by a different carrier. How can BFPO addresses be identified for separate treatment?
All BFPO Postcodes will start with ‘BF’ so simply use this to detect a BFPO address. The same would be the case in other situations already such as if you were detecting for JE and GY as Channel Islands addresses.
We don't deliver items suitable for BFPO delivery. How do I exclude the data?
If your organisation only delivers items such as furniture, flowers or just BFPO prohibited items, BFPO data won’t be needed. Simply filter out postcodes starting with “BF”.
If you have any questions about BFPO or any of our other products please fill out the form below and we will get back in touch with you shortly.