A NEW postcode system is being rolled out countrywide – but householders won't be obliged to use it.
Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte announced that a postcode system with a different seven-character code for every single home would be rolled out by 2015.
This will make Ireland the first country in the world to have a postcode system with a unique code for every single property.
The new postcode will have seven characters with the first three relating to the general area or postal district, and the second four to the specific house or apartment – for example, A65 B2CD.
But iconic areas such as Dublin 4 will no longer exist under the new system as existing postal districts will appear as the first three characters of the new postcode – so a two-digit abbreviation like D4 will become D04 instead.
The system will cost €16m to set up over the next couple of years, a spokesman for Mr Rabbitte said.
However, it won't be compulsory and letters without the new code should be delivered within the existing timeframes.
"The postcode system will enhance postal deliveries by removing confusion but there is no risk of something not getting there if you don't use it," the spokesman said.
The main reason for setting it up is to stop delays as 30pc of domestic Irish addresses are not unique, which sometimes causes confusion.
Business, insurers, retailers and public bodies have also lobbied for a postcode system to target sales, deliveries and services more easily at households.
And with increasing numbers of consumers making purchases online, some internet retailers demand a postcode before the order can be completed.
The Data Protection Commission said that it would examine the details of the new system to make sure that householders' privacy was not breached by the creation of this major new database.
"I can advise that we were consulted at various points in the development of the project and will examine the details of the proposed system when available," a spokesman said.
Mr Rabbitte, who got cabinet backing for the move yesterday, said the new system would have many benefits.
"For example, given the prevalence of satellite navigation systems in cars, a driver will simply be able to insert a postcode into their device rather than a lengthy address and will be provided with the accurate location," he said.
The Government has also approved the appointment of a consortium headed by Capita Ireland to allocate postcodes.
An Post had previously opposed postcodes on cost grounds but said yesterday it looked forward to helping with "the implementation of this new element of national infrastructure".
Chambers Ireland deputy chief Sean Murphy said he was delighted that Ireland would finally have a postcode system, which would greatly help online sales and deliveries.
"This will greatly benefit business, particularly as it is a vital prerequisite for e-fulfillment, which will enable more Irish businesses to embrace the web," he said.
Unique postcodes would also help emergency services when trying to locate addresses and Mr Murphy urged all businesses and households to embrace the system.
John Tuohy, of delivery company Nightline Group, said that the new system would make the economy smarter and more efficient and that Ireland was "no longer on a par with Albania as the only OECD country not to have postcodes".
Householders will be informed of their new postcode in early 2015 and will be able to use it from then onwards.