Getting UK address data for academic research

A colleague asked me how to get access to OrdnanceSurvey AddressBase data for his research. I made some inquiries and found out that it is actually quite straightforward:

  1. Ordnance Survey can provide AddressBase licenses and data for free to universities for academic research (not for commercial purposes or admin).
  2. AddressBase licenses are provided on a project-by-project basis, so you have to get a separate AddressBase license for each project. There is no one-off license.
  3. To get a license for your project you need to email with a short description of your project and what data you need. They will then check the project against their eligibility criteria and if approved they will issue a license and provide the data.
  4. You better verify there is no cost associated with your license – don’t complain later saying ‘But Karl said on his blog that it is free!’

AddressBase is currently not distributed through Edina DigiMap (the OrdnanceSurvey data portal for Higher Education) due to licensing issues with the Royal Mail PAF address file…. long story, ask Bob Barr about it 🙂

There is a lot of interesting background to address data in the UK – from the lack of a single authoritative address database to the ‘Free the Postcode’ initiative. Read up a bit:

The ESRC on access to address register data for the academic community

Ordnance Survey AddressBase data

GeoPlace, the government’s latest attempt to create a authority for publicly-owned spatial address data.



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