The Eircode postcode system has been launched today, with every house in Ireland getting a unique seven-digit identifying code.

Households will be notified of their Eircode, and do not need to apply.

The Eircode website is now live. 

There is a limit of 15 searches a day for people to look up addresses. 

The website says it is for the public, who occasionally look up addresses, and not for commercial use. 

It says: "The Eircode Finder is for the public who occasionally need to look up address details, it is not for commercial use which is why a limit has been set. When the limit is reached an alert is shown on the website, however you may look up a further 15 searches the following day."

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Freight Transport Association of Ireland General Manager Neil McDonnell said while a postcode system is needed, the Eircode system is not sufficient.

He said that Eircode provides the longitude and latitude of an address and this has already been available to the postal delivery sector for more than two decades.

Mr McDonnell said that while Eircode does give a clear identity to the houses in a database, it is not useful if you are trying to find a place. He said that revenue, social welfare, the health service will benefit, but it is not enough for the parcel and package industry.

He said that if a customer provides an Eircode companies will endeavour to use it, but that there will be dissatisfaction with the fact that they will be forced to pay for a database that does not give them any utility.

Mr McDonnell also said he believes the Eircode will lead to discrimination. He said that real estate websites will price properties according to their postcode.

Conradh na Gaeilge has also criticised the new system.

The group is calling on Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Alex White "to rectify the thousands of gaps and inaccuracies as regards addresses in Irish in the database".

Conradh na Gaeilge says: "Up to 50,000 place names are inaccurate or completely missing from the database in use by the Eircode system, but despite this, and despite €27 million having been allocated to the new postcode system, the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources is accepting the deficient postcode system and is refusing to fund a proposal to correct the database." 

Conradh President Cóilín Ó Cearbhaill said: "Conradh na Gaeilge had to organise the parcel campaign in the GPO a hundred years ago to compel the British government to allow letters addressed in Irish to be delivered through the Royal Mail in 1910.

"It is scandalous to think that we now have to organise a campaign against Ireland's own Department of Communications a hundred years later because the new postcode system for Ireland won't acknowledge the Irish-speaking and Gaeltacht community.

"The Department is treating those of who wish to use Irish in our lives as second class citizens in our own country."

The new system also appears to have some glitches, with Shannon Airport among several businesses to have incorrect details.

Speaking following the official launch, Minister for Communications Alex White told RTÉ’s News at One that he was proud of the new system.

He said he made it one of his priorities when he got into office as he believes it will offer a better and more efficient post and parcel service in Ireland.

He said he believes the emergency services in particular will benefit greatly from the new system.

Mr White said he believes that businesses will buy into the database.

He said he wanted to assure business owners that the fee for making more than 15 searches in a day will be a manageable one; between €60 and €180 a year depending on the number of searches performed and the option of a mapping service.

Mr White said that the Eircode system is very different to the successful sequential system in the UK, but that the UK system was not necessarily appropriate for Ireland.

He said sequential systems can lead to ghettoisation. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O'Rourke, Eircode Commercial Manager Alan Dignam said every household will receive their Eircode details within the next two weeks.

He said that it is not compulsory to use the Eircode, but he advises people to keep it nearby as they will be asked to use it in time.

Mr Dignam said the use of Eircode will improve trade and give more options to purchase online, as it has been indicated that many companies will not deliver to parts of rural Ireland in particular, as they cannot authenticate the delivery address as 35% of addresses in Ireland are non-unique.

He believes that the new system will make industry more efficient by using an exact latitude/longitude mapping system and will therefore drive down costs.

Mr Dignam said that there are some issues that still need to be ironed out.

Sat-nav systems don not officially recognise Eircodes yet but negotiations are ongoing with major digital mapping companies who are currently working on an infrastructural build.

Mr Dignam is very confident that the functionality will be on sat-nav systems within months.

Business group welcomes Eircode

Ibec, which represents Irish businesses, today welcomed the launch of Eircode, which it said will reduce business costs and benefit consumers.

Ibec's Aidan Sweeney said that the organisation has long pushed for the introduction of postcodes.

 "Having such a unique identifier can reduce costs for businesses through supply-chain and administrative savings.

 "Postcodes will benefit retailers and consumers by improving online shopping and home delivery services," he said. 

"It has taken over ten years to get to this point. The communications campaign has only just begun.

"Postcodes are not just about postal services. For example, the new system should allow for the better planning of public services. The business community will be integral to the successful roll-out of the system, especially those operating large databases," he added.