A Canadian postal code is a six-character string that forms part of a postal address in Canada.Like British, Irish and Dutch postcodes, Canada's postal codes are alphanumeric. They are in the format A1A 1A1, where A is a letter and 1 is a digit, with a space separating the third and fourth characters. As of October 2019, there were 876,445 postal codes using Forward Sortation Areas from A0A in Newfoundland to Y1A in the Yukon.
Canada Post provides a free postal code look-up tool on its website,via its mobile application, and sells hard-copy directories and CD-ROMs. Many vendors also sell validation tools, which allow customers to properly match addresses and postal codes. Hard-copy directories can also be consulted in all post offices, and some libraries.
When writing out the postal address for a location within Canada, the postal code follows the abbreviation for the province or territory.
Numbered postal zones were first used in Toronto in 1925.Mail to a Toronto address in zone 5 would be addressed in this format:
37 Bloor Street West Toronto 5, Ontario
As of 1943, Toronto was divided into 14 zones, numbered from 1 to 15, except that 7 and 11 were unused, and there was a 2B zone.
Postal zones were implemented in Montreal in 1944.
By the early 1960s, other cities in Canada had been divided into postal zones, including Quebec, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Vancouver as well as Toronto and Montreal.For example, an address in Vancouver would be addressed as:
804 Robson Street, Vancouver 1, B.C.
In the late 1960s, however, the Post Office began implementing a three-digit zone number scheme in major cities to replace existing one- and two-digit zone numbers, starting in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.For example, an address in Metropolitan Toronto would be addressed as:
1253 Bay Street Toronto 185, Ontario
Toronto's renumbering took effect 1 May 1969, accompanied by an advertising campaign under the slogan "Your number is up".However, with impending plans for a national postal code system, Postmaster General Eric Kierans announced that the Post Office would begin cancelling the new three-digit city zone system. Companies changed their mail addressing at their own expense, only to find the new zoning would prove to be short-lived.
As the largest Canadian cities grew in the 1950s and 1960s, the volume of mail passing through the country's postal system also grew, to billions of items by the 1950s and tens of billions of items by the mid-1960s. Consequently, it became progressively more difficult for employees who handsorted mail to memorize and keep track of all the individual letter-carrier routes within each city. New technology that allowed mail to be delivered faster also contributed to the pressure for these employees to properly sort the mail.
A report tabled in the House of Commons in 1969 dealt with the expected impact of "environmental change" on the Post Office operations over the following 25 years. A key recommendation was the "establishment of a task force to determine the nature of the automation and mechanization the Post Office should adopt, which might include design of a postal code".
In December 1969, Communications Minister Eric Kierans announced that a six-character postal code would be introduced, superseding the three-digit zone system.He later tabled a report in February 1970, entitled "A Canadian Public Address Postal Coding System", submitted by the firm of Samson, Belair, Simpson, Riddell Inc.
The introduction of the postal code began with a test in Ottawa on 1 April 1971.Coding of Ottawa was followed by a provincial-level rollout of the system in Manitoba, and the system was gradually implemented in the rest of the country from 1972 to 1974, although the nationwide use of the code by the end of 1974 was only 38.2 per cent.
The introduction of such a code system allowed Canada Post to easily speed up and simplify the flow of mail in the country, with sorting machines being able to handle 26,640 objects an hour.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers objected to the automated sorting system mainly because the wages of those who ran the new automated machines were much lower than those who had hand-sorted mail.The unions ended up staging job action and public information campaigns, with the message that they did not want people and business to use postal codes on their mail. The union declared 20 March 1975 National "Boycott the Postal Code" Day, also demanding a reduction in the work week from 40 to 30 hours. The boycott was called off in February 1976.
One 1975 advertisement in the Toronto magazine Byliner generated controversy by showing a man writing a postal code on the bottom of a thonged woman with the following ditty:
"We're not 'stringing' you along,
Use postal codes – you'll 'thing our 'thong',
Don't be cheeky – you've all got 'em
Please include them on the bottom."
The advertisement was denounced as "sexist garbage" in the House of Commons by NDP MP John Rodriguez, prompting an apology from Postmaster General Bryce Mackasey.
Canada was one of the last Western countries to implement a nationwide postal code system.
A forward sortation area (FSA) is a geographical region in which all postal codes start with the same three characters.The first letter of an FSA code denotes a particular "postal district", which, outside Quebec and Ontario, corresponds to an entire province or territory.
The large populations of both Quebec and Ontario cause both provinces to be subdivided into three and five postal districts, respectively, and each has at least one urban area so populous that it has a dedicated postal district ("H" for the Montreal region, and "M" for Toronto). On the other hand, the low populations in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories (NWT) mean that even after Nunavut separated from the Northwest Territories and became its own territory in 1999, they continue to share a postal district.
The digit identifies the FSA as urban or rural. A zero indicates a wide-area rural region (or, in rare instances, a special-purpose code);all other digits indicate urban areas. The second letter represents a specific rural region, an entire medium-sized city, or a section of a major metropolitan area.
A directory of FSAs is provided, divided into separate articles by postal district. Individual FSA lists are in a tabular format, with the numbers (known as zones) going across the table and the second letter going down the table.
The FSA lists specify all communities covered by each rural FSA. Medium-sized cities may have one dedicated FSA; larger cities have more than one FSA within their limits.
For FSAs spanning more than one city, the city which is allocated the most codes in each such FSA is listed. For cities with a small number of FSAs (but more than one), the lists specify the relative location of each FSA in those cities. For cities with a large number of FSAs, applicable neighbourhoods and boroughs are specified.
All Canadian postal codes are listed in the following links, organized by first letter.
|Canadian postal codes|
The last three characters denote a local delivery unit (LDU).An LDU denotes a specific single address or range of addresses, which can correspond to an entire small town, a significant part of a medium-sized town, a single side of a city block in larger cities, a single large building or a portion of a very large one, a single (large) institution such as a university or a hospital, or a business that receives large volumes of mail on a regular basis.
LDUs ending in zero correspond to postal facilities, from post offices and small franchised retail postal outlets all the way up to sortation plants. In urban areas, LDUs may be specific postal carriers' routes. In rural areas where direct door-to-door delivery is not available, an LDU can describe a set of post office boxes or a rural route. LDU 9Z9 is used exclusively for Business Reply Mail. In rural FSAs, the first two characters are usually assigned in alphanumerical order by the name of each community.
LDU 9Z0 refers to large regional distribution centre facilities, and is also used as a placeholder, appearing in some regional postmarks such as the "K0H 9Z0" which formerly appeared on purely local mail within the Kingston, Ontario, area.
Postal codes use 20 uppercase letters of the English alphabet; they do not include the letters D, F, I, O, Q or U. The first position also does not make use of the letters W or Z. This means the maximum number of FSAs available is 18×10×20 = 3,600. With 10×20×10 = 2,000 possible LDUs in each FSA, there is a theoretical limit of 7.2 million postal codes. The practical limit is a bit lower, as Canada Post reserves some FSAs for special functions, such as for test or promotional purposes, (e.g. the H0H 0H0 for Santa Claus, see below) as well as for sorting mail bound for destinations outside Canada. The current Statistics Canada estimate of over 830,000 active postal codesrepresents about 12% of the entire postal code "space", leaving ample room for expansion.
"Urbanization" is the name Canada Post uses to refer to the process where it replaces a rural postal code (a code with a zero as its second character) with urban postal codes.The vacated rural postal code can then be assigned to another community or retired. Canada Post decides when to urbanize a certain community when its population reaches a certain level, though different factors may also be involved.
For example, in early 2008, the postal code G0N 3M0 (covering Sainte-Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier, Fossambault-sur-le-Lac and Lac-Saint-Joseph, Quebec) was urbanized to postal codes beginning with G3N to remove ambiguities and confusions caused by similar street names.Unique among province-wide districts, New Brunswick (postal district E) is completely urbanized, its rural codes having been phased out.
In 1974, staff at a Canada Post office in Montreal were noticing a considerable number of letters addressed to Santa Claus entering the postal system, and those letters were being treated as undeliverable. Since employees handling those letters did not want the writers (mostly young children) to be disappointed at the lack of response, they started answering the letters themselves.
The amount of mail sent to Santa Claus increased every Christmas, to the point that Canada Post established an official Santa Claus letter-response program in 1983. By 2011, Santa's mail was being handled with the assistance of 11,000 volunteers, mostly current or former postal workers,at multiple locations across Canada devoting an average of twenty-one hours to this seasonal task.
Approximately 1,000,000 letters are addressed to Santa Claus each Christmas, including some originating outside Canada, and all of them are answered in the same language in which they are written.Canada Post introduced a special address for mail to Santa Claus, complete with its own postal code:
NORTH POLE H0H 0H0
In French, Santa's name Père Noël translates as "Father Christmas", and mail is addressed to:
PÔLE NORD H0H 0H0
The postal code H0H 0H0 was chosen for this special seasonal use as it reads "Ho ho ho".
The H0- prefix is an anomaly: the 0 indicates a rural delivery zone, but H is used to designate Montreal, the second-largest city in Canada. As such, the H0- prefix is almost completely empty. H0M, assigned to the international Akwesasne tribal reserve on the Canada–US border, is the only other H0- postal code in active use.
In 2013, Santa was dragged into the ongoing Arctic sovereignty debate to support Canadian territorial claims extending to the North Pole. In response to attacks from Conservative MP Paul Calandra, parliamentary secretary to then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau, at the time leader of the third-party Liberals, stated "Everyone knows that Santa Claus is Canadian. His postal code is H0H 0H0."
For transition of mail from the civilian to the Canadian Forces Postal Service, the postal codes of the three military post offices on Canadian soil are used, depending on the final destination.
These postal codes each represent a number of military post offices abroad, which are specified not by postal code but by CFPO or FMO number. The LDUs in this case corresponding not so much to a physical as to a virtual delivery unit since mail is not delivered locally but is forwarded to the actual delivery units at Canadian military bases and ships abroad.
PO Box 5053 Stn Forces
Belleville ON K8N 5W6
In this example, Canada Post will deliver to the CFPO at Belleville and the Canadian Forces Postal System will continue transport to the addressee at CFPO 5053 (in Geilenkirchen, Germany)by whatever means and timing the military will deem appropriate.
Postal codes can be correlated with databased information from censuses or health registries to create a geographic profile of an area's population. For instance, postal codes have been used to compare children's risk of developing cancerand to describe a neighbourhood's entrenched poverty ("Vancouver's Downtown Eastside is Canada's poorest postal code").
As Canadian electoral districts frequently follow postal code areas, citizens can identify their local elected representative using their postal code. Provincial and federal government websites offer an online "look-up" feature based on postal codes.Although A1A 1A1 is sometimes displayed as a generic code for this purpose, it is actually a genuine postal code in use in the Lower Battery, St. John's Harbour, Newfoundland. Another common "example" code in Canada Post materials, K1A 0B1, is the valid code for the Canada Post headquarters building in Ottawa.
The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the executive branch of the United States federal government responsible for providing postal service in the United States, including its insular areas and associated states. It is one of the few government agencies explicitly authorized by the United States Constitution.
A postal code is a series of letters or digits or both, sometimes including spaces or punctuation, included in a postal address for the purpose of sorting mail.
A ZIP Code is a postal code used by the United States Postal Service (USPS). Introduced in 1963, the basic format consisted of five digits. In 1983, an extended ZIP+4 code was introduced; it included the five digits of the ZIP Code, followed by a hyphen and four digits that designated a more specific location.
Postal codes used in the United Kingdom, British Overseas Territories and Crown dependencies are known as postcodes. They are alphanumeric and were adopted nationally between 11 October 1959 and 1974, having been devised by the General Post Office. A full postcode is known as a "postcode unit" and designates an area with several addresses or a single major delivery point.
Canada Post Corporation, trading as Canada Post, is a Crown corporation which functions as the primary postal operator in Canada. Originally known as Royal Mail Canada, rebranding was done to the "Canada Post" name in the late 1960s, even though it had not yet been separated from the government. On October 16, 1981, the Canada Post Corporation Act came into effect. This abolished the Post Office Department and created the present-day Crown corporation which provides postal service. The act aimed to set a new direction for the postal service by ensuring the postal service's financial security and independence.
A Postal Index Number (PIN), or sometimes redundantly a PIN code, refers to a six-digit code in the Indian postal code system used by India Post.
POSTNET is a barcode symbology used by the United States Postal Service to assist in directing mail. The ZIP Code or ZIP+4 code is encoded in half- and full-height bars. Most often, the delivery point is added, usually being the last two digits of the address or PO box number.
Postcodes in New Zealand consist of four digits, the first two of which specify the area, the third the type of delivery, and the last the specific lobby, RD number, or suburb. The present postcode system was introduced in New Zealand in June 2006, which, unlike the previous system, applies to all items of mail with effect from June 2008. In October 2008, New Zealand Post launched a 'remember your postcode' campaign, offering a NZ$10,000 prize for remembering a postcode.
In a postal system, a delivery point is a single mailbox or other place at which mail is delivered. It differs from a street address, in that each address may have several delivery points, such as an apartment, office department, or other room. Such buildings are often called multiple-dwelling units (MDUs) by the USPS.
An address is a collection of information, presented in a mostly fixed format, used to give the location of a building, apartment, or other structure or a plot of land, generally using political boundaries and street names as references, along with other identifiers such as house or apartment numbers and organization name. Some addresses also contain special codes, such as a postal code, to make identification easier and aid in the routing of mail.
PostBar, also known as CPC 4-State, is the black-ink barcode system used by Canada Post in its automated mail sorting and delivery operations. It is similar to other 4 State barcode systems used by Australia Post and the United Kingdom's Royal Mail, but uses an obscured structure and encoding system unique to Canada Post. This particular bar code system is used on "flats" and parcels.
Canadian provincial and territorial postal acronyms are used by Canada Post in a code system consisting of two capital letters, to represent the 13 provinces and territories on addressed mail. These acronyms allow automated sorting.
A "postal address" in the Republic of Ireland is a place of delivery defined by Irish Standard (IS) EN 14142-1:2011 and serviced by the universal service provider, An Post. Its addressing guides comply with the guidelines of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), the United Nations-affiliated body responsible for promoting standards in the postal industry, across the world.
Postal codes in Argentina are called códigos postales. Until 1998 Argentina employed a four-digit postal code for each municipality, with the first digit representing a region in the country, except in the case of the city of Buenos Aires. The unique codes became the base for the newer system, officially called CPA.
Postcodes in Australia are used to more efficiently sort and route mail within the Australian postal system. Postcodes in Australia have four digits and are placed at the end of the Australian address, before the country. Postcodes were introduced in Australia in 1967 by the Postmaster-General's Department and are now managed by Australia Post, Australia's national postal service. Postcodes are published in booklets available from post offices or online from the Australia Post website.
For the purposes of directing mail, Sweden is divided into a number of postcode areas. The Swedish postcode system is administered by the Swedish Mail Service on behalf of the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority.
Postal codes in South Korea are 5-digit numeric. A new system of post codes was introduced on August 1, 2015. The postal code of the Republic of Korea was first enacted on July 1, 1970, and was revised three times in 1988, 2000, and 2015.
Ferranti Canada's Route Reference Computer was the first computerized mail sorter system, delivered to the Canadian Post Office in January 1957. In spite of a promising start and a great deal of international attention, spiraling costs and a change in government led to the project being canceled later that year. Technical developments pioneered for the Route Reference Computer were put to good use by Ferranti in several projects that followed over the next decade.