LAUNCHING OF BVI POST CODE IS
by Giorgio Migliavacca
The Territory is finally
implementing a pre-requisite of efficient postal communications by adopting a
postal code that will positively impact the processing and speed of delivery
of both incoming and outgoing mail. The BVI postal code is going to be launched
on 30 October, thus placing the Territory on a platform of efficient global
communications that is so crucial to both our tourism and financial sector
Road Town, the suburban areas,
villages and sister islands will be given a postal code that will help identify
the final destination/provenance at a glance. Just by looking at someone’s
address you will know if he lives in town, out of town, north shore, on Virgin
Gorda, or any of our 40 Virgin Islands. The BVI Postal Service will assign a
specific postal code for each quadrant and area in the territory.
The BVI postal code begins with
two alpha characters—”VG” — followed by a five digit number. Both components are
exceedingly important because VG is the international postal code that
identifies the British Virgin Islands (to avoid conflict with the code “VI”
already in use in the USVI), while the five digit number is the clue to the
location of the addressee (or sender) in the Territory.
FAMILIARIZATION PHASE IS CRUCIAL
According to Postmaster General
Mr. Kevin Smith the use of the numerical segment of the code has been carefully
coordinated with the Town & Country Planning Department and it has reached a
degree of refinement that will allow mail sorters to know whether the addressee
or sender lives on Main Street, Fleming Street, Wickhams Cay and so on. This
prompted the next question: we have general delivery, postal boxes, but unlike
the bigger islands in the region we never had house-to-house mail delivery, why
do we need such precision in our postal code? Mr. Smith says that the day may
come, in the not too distant future, when the BVI Postal Service will offer the
luxury of house-to-house mail delivery.
The dynamic and young Postmaster
General has a vision of our postal service that could well place it in the top
three positions in the entire Caribbean. His arduous task is to make it a
As far as the postal code is
concerned, Mr. Smith says that the postal administration has already embarked on
a series of workshops to familiarise his staff of 45 with the novelty.
Additionally, similar exercises will be carried out to educate financial
institutions and large companies about the use of the postal code. A public
awareness campaign will be conducted by using both electronic and printed media
and an help desk will be created to assist the public.
The idea of adding a postal code
to your address may look a bit intimidating at first, but actually it’s as
simple as 1, 2, 3. The Post Office will assign a postal code to the area where
you live or to the location of your PO Box and all you will have to do is to add
it to your address: for example “John Doe, PO Box XYZ Road Town, Tortola,
POSTAL CODE, British Virgin Islands.” And remember: if you want your mail to
move fast you must use the postal code.
EXPRESS MAIL AND ELECTRONIC MONEY TRANSFERS
Despite the great progress made
by telecommunications and communications via fax and internet the volume of
incoming and outgoing mail has shown very minor adjustments, but the demand is
as strong as ever. Given the presence of a vibrant financial sector the demand
for high-end services such as express mail is also crucial to a modern and
efficient postal service.
Postmaster General Smith said
that by 2007 express mail will be gradually introduced throughout the BVI. At
first our express mail service will deliver to the Caribbean and USA
destinations, but in due course it will expand on a global scale. “We are
looking at commercial carriers and the options they offer, we are also liaising
with the Barbados Postal Authorities who are leaders in the region when it comes
to express mail service and high end postal services,” Mr. Smith explained.
The procedure of mail sorting as
regards to incoming and outgoing mail has remained the same since the day Road
Town had its first post office in 1787, and that is—the sorting clerk reads the
address and sorts the mail out according to the destination. While there is
nothing wrong with that, it surely is antiquated and labour intensive, But Mr.
Smith is quick in saying that mechanisation and automation of postal operations
is being looked into, and that’s not all. “We are going to offer electronic
money transfers and a series of new products that will place the BVI post to the
forefront of postal services in the region.”
Mr. Smith expressed his
determination in improving the way the post office does business, “We want to
remove the stereotype that we are a dinosaur. We are going to reinvigorate the
service and while we work at it we welcome constructive criticism.”
It certainly is a very ambitious
agenda that Mr. Smith and his staff have cut out for themselves and they will
need all the assistance they can get from the Ministry of Finance under whose
portofolio the BVI Postal Service falls. To begin with, the post office will
need greater autonomy, better and larger facilities and some serious investment.
There are also plans to commercialise its operation, changing its rank to that
of statutory body. In the meantime, Mr. Smith perseveres in his mission and some
positive results can already be seen. The mail from the USA East Coast (Miami
and New York) takes now about four days to reach the BVI and his direct hotline
with Royal Mail has made quite a difference in speeding up mail to and from
Europe and beyond.
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