more on the 1999 change of address demonstrator ….

I mentioned in a previous post the work done in the late 1990s to put online a change of address service.

This service enabled citizens to inform separate government departments, via the internet and in a single transaction, of a change of address.  The two departments who took part in this work were Inland Revenue (now part of HMRC) and the Department of Social Security (now DWP). The project never really moved beyond its live demonstration phase with a limited subset of citizens.

I’ve recently managed to source some additional screen grabs from that era, as below.

Missing from these is the stage where users were authenticated by a third party digital certificate — in this case Royal Mail’s ViaCode or Barclay Bank’s Endorse (NatWest Bank had also been involved in some earlier work). It was this signing that helped confirm the user’s identity (a similar federated model as that currently being developed by the Cabinet Office’s Identity Assurance Programme).

The smartcard authentication method required a user to have a valid and pre-initialised smartcard. with a recognised digital certificate present. The smartcard was inserted into the citizen’s smartcard reader before accessing the secure web site.  This enabled (transparently to the user) the web browser on the PC to establish a secure session with the site using a trusted certificate. When this secure session was established, the citizen was able to access the protected web site. Then, once the user had completed the web pages, the data were signed using the digital certificate.

The initial welcome screen.


Next was the screen for entering personal details.


Then the old and new address pages, with the addresses automatically validated with the Post Office’s Personal Address File (PAF).

coa6 coa7

Followed by letting users decide which departments they wanted to notify of their change of address.


And finally, there was the summary and declaration screen.


After which the user would be presented with a confirmation page and a reference number to quote in the event of any follow-on enquiries.


The summary architecture for this service is shown below.

Change of Address 1999

XML was used as part of the government’s adoption of open standards for data and interfaces via the GovTalk initiative.



Stefan Czerniawksi points out the above largely relates to the early stage demonstrator — and that the later live pilot expanded to include more departments and was made available through third party sites. See also his related blog here.

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