Section 4 Technical specifications
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The postal code is a six-character code defined and maintained by Canada Post Corporation (CPC) for the purpose of sorting and delivering mail. The characters are arranged in the form 'ANA NAN', where 'A' represents an alphabetic character and 'N' represents a numeric character (e.g., K1A 0T6). The postal code uses 18 alphabetic characters and 10 numeric characters. Eight alphabetic characters (D, F, I, O, Q, U, W and Z) are not in use at the present time.
The first character of a postal code is allocated in alphabetic sequence from east to west across Canada and denotes a province, territory, or a major sector found entirely within the boundaries of a province.
|Province/territory/region||Postal code first character|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||A|
|Prince Edward Island||C|
|Northwest Territories and Nunavut||X|
|Note: The regions used in this table are defined by Canada Post Corporation.|
In the Postal Code Conversion File (PCCF), there are 69 postal codes linked to a different province from their first character allocation. The counts of postal codes given by province/territory in Table 4.3 are generated by grouping all postal codes by the first letter of the forward sortation area.
|Province/territory||Unique postal codes||Number of records|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||11,008||22,142|
|Prince Edward Island||3,326||9,203|
The first three characters of the postal code ('ANA') represent a set of well-defined and stable areas known as forward sortation areas (FSAs). The FSA represents a specific area within a major geographical region or province/territory. As of May 2011, there were 1,638 FSAs in use across Canada. There were 1,454 FSAs with urban mail delivery service and only 184 with rural mail delivery service. Rural postal codes are identifiable by the presence of a zero (0) in the second position of the FSA code. Urban postal codes are composed of FSAs with numerals 1 to 9 in the second position of the code.
The last three characters of the postal code ('NAN') identify routes known as local delivery units (LDUs). In population centres, a single postal code may correspond to the following types of LDU:
- a block-face (one side of a city street between consecutive intersections)
- a community mailbox (commonly called super mailboxes)
- an apartment building
- a business building
- a large firm/organisation that does considerable business with CPC
- a federal government department, agency or branch
- a mail delivery route (rural, suburban or mobile)
- general delivery at a specific post office
- one or more post office boxes.
A community mailbox postal code services both odd and even sides of the same street, or different streets, within a 200 metre radius of the community mailbox.
In rural FSAs, the LDU generally refers to services which originate from a post office or postal station. These include rural routes, general deliveries, post office boxes, and suburban services. Often, in rural FSAs, the postal code identifies a specific rural community.
Forward sortation area (FSA)
The forward sortation area is the first three characters of the postal code, designating a postal delivery area within Canada.
Province or territory code (PR)
The PR uniquely identifies provinces and territories.
- 10 Newfoundland and Labrador
- 11 Prince Edward Island
- 12 Nova Scotia
- 13 New Brunswick
- 24 Quebec
- 35 Ontario
- 46 Manitoba
- 47 Saskatchewan
- 48 Alberta
- 59 British Columbia
- 60 Yukon
- 61 Northwest Territories
- 62 Nunavut
Census division unique identifier (CDuid)
This uniquely identifies a census division. The first two digits of the CDuid identify the province or territory (PR). Census division names are found in the Census division names file (CD_DR.txt).
Census subdivision unique identifier (CSDuid)
This uniquely identifies a census subdivision in the country. The province/territory, census division, and census subdivision (municipality) codes combine to represent the 2006 Standard Geographical Classification (SGC).
Census subdivision name (CSDname)
This contains the name of the census subdivision (municipality) in effect as of January 1, 2006.
Census subdivision type (CSDtype)
This field provides abbreviations used to identify the census subdivision (municipality) type. See Appendix D, CSD types by province and territory, 2006 Census, for the complete list.
Census consolidated subdivision code (CCScode)
This identifies a census consolidated subdivision within a census division. It should be combined with the CDuid to uniquely identify a census consolidated subdivision in the country.
Statistical Area Classification code (SAC)
The Statistical Area Classification groups census subdivisions according to whether they are a component of a census metropolitan area (CMA), a census agglomeration (CA), a census metropolitan area and census agglomeration influenced zone (strong MIZ, moderate MIZ, weak MIZ or no MIZ), or the territories (Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut). Corresponding names are found in the Statistical Area Classification names file (SAC_CSS.txt).
- 000 Territories
- 001 to 995 CMA/CA unique identifier
- 996 Strongly influenced zone
- 997 Moderately influenced zone
- 998 Weakly influenced zone
- 999 No influenced zone
Statistical Area Classification type (SACtype)
This identifies the type of Statistical Area Classification in which the census subdivision is located.
- 1 Census metropolitan area
- 2 Tracted census agglomeration
- 3 Non-tracted census agglomeration
- 4 Strongly influenced zone
- 5 Moderately influenced zone
- 6 Weakly influenced zone
- 7 No influenced zone
- 8 Territories
Census tract name (CTname)
This identifies a census tract within a CMA/CA. To uniquely identify each census tract in its corresponding census metropolitan area or tracted census agglomeration, the three-digit CMA/CA code must precede the Census tract name (CT) 'name'. If a census tract is split into two or more parts due to a population increase, the number after the decimal point identifies the splits. For example, CT 0042.00 becomes CT 0042.01 and CT 0042.02. If CT 0042.01 is subsequently split, it becomes CT 0042.03 and CT 0042.04.
Non-tracted areas outside a CMA/CA are assigned a code that is a concatenation of '99' plus the two-digit province/territory code. For example, records in areas outside of a CMA/CA in Nova Scotia are assigned a CT name of '9912.00'.
Economic region code (ER)
This identifies an economic region within a province/territory. This field must be combined with the province/territory code to uniquely identify an economic region.
Designated place code (DPL)
This identifies a designated place within a province/territory. This field must be combined with the province/territory code to uniquely identify a designated place.
Areas which are not a designated place are assigned a four-digit code that is a concatenation of '99' plus the two-digit province/territory code. For example, records in areas outside of a DPL in New Brunswick are assigned a DPL of '9913'.
Federal electoral district – 2003 Representation Order unique identifier (FED03uid)
This uniquely identifies a federal electoral district – 2003 Representation Order. The first two digits of the FED03uid identify the province or territory (PR). Corresponding names are found in the 2003 Federal electoral district names file (FED03_CEF03.txt).
Population centre/rural area code (POP_CNTR_RA)
Population centre codes are unique four-digit codes that are assigned sequentially upon the POP_CNTR_RA creation. These codes remain constant between censuses. If a population centre is retired due to amalgamation or failure to meet the population or density thresholds, then its code is retired.
Rural area codes are unique four-digit codes which are a concatenation of '99' plus the two-digit province/territory code. For example, records in rural areas in Manitoba are assigned '9946'. This field will be '0000' for postal codes linked to dissemination areas only (Rep_Point = 3).
Population centre/rural area type (POP_CNTR_RA_type)
For population centres, the type code indicates the relationship of the population centre to the CMA/CA structure.
- 0 Rural area
- 1 Core
- 2 Fringe
- 4 Population centre outside CMA/CAs
- 6 Secondary core
This field will be '9' for postal codes linked to dissemination areas only (Rep_Point = 3). There is no POP_CNTR_RA_type available for postal codes linked at the dissemination area level. POP_CNTR_RA_type is only available for postal codes linked at the more detailed dissemination block or block-face level.
Dissemination area unique identifier (DAuid)
The DAuid uniquely identifies a dissemination area. It is composed of the two-digit province/territory code, the two-digit census division code and the four-digit dissemination area code.
A dissemination block (DB) is an area bounded on all sides by roads and/or boundaries of standard geographic areas. Dissemination blocks cover all the territory of Canada. This code should be combined with the DAuid to uniquely identify the dissemination block within the country. This field will be '00' for postal codes linked to dissemination areas only (Rep_Point = 3).
Representative point type (Rep_Pt_Type)
This identifies whether the record uses a block-face, dissemination block or dissemination area representative point as the coordinate.
|Code||Type||Number of records|
A representative point is a point that represents a line or a polygon. The point is centrally located along the line, and centrally located or population weighted in the polygon.
Representative points are generated for block-faces, dissemination blocks (DBs), dissemination areas (DAs), census subdivisions (CSDs), population centres (POPCTRs) and designated places (DPLs). These points support the mapping of postal codes to geographic areas.
Representative points are located by the following methods using the Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI):
Block-face representative points
The block-face representative points are computed along addressable and non-addressable streets, midway (or approximately midway) between two consecutive features intersecting a street. The features can be other streets or boundaries of standard geographic areas.
The points are set back a perpendicular distance of 10, 5, 1 or 0.5 metres from the street centre line to ensure that all points have unique coordinates, and are located in the correct block and on the correct side of the street.
Geographic area representative points
The representative points for DBs, DAs, CSDs, POPCTRs and DPLs are generated in conjunction with their respective cartographic boundary file (CBF). The most detailed dissemination hydrography in the CBF is used. The points are initially calculated and stored based on the Lambert conformal conic projection; they are also transformed to latitude/longitude coordinates.
Topology checks are applied to ensure that the points fall within the appropriate geographic area. Since some dissemination blocks and designated places are located in water only, their representative points fall in water.
Representative points can also be used for data retrieval, data analysis and mapping. All representative points are calculated based on the x,y coordinates of the Lambert conformal conic map projection, but are disseminated in latitude/longitude coordinates.
This is the latitude, in decimal degrees, of the dissemination area, dissemination block, or block-face representative point. The decimal point is explicit.
This is the longitude, in decimal degrees, of the dissemination area, dissemination block, or block-face representative point. The decimal point is explicit.
Single link indicator (SLI)
The single link indicator (SLI) provides a geographic record for mapping a postal code representative point. It can be used to establish a one-to-one relationship between postal codes and dissemination areas, dissemination blocks, or block-faces. The SLI has the value of '1' to flag one record of an active postal code. Every set of retired records for a postal code, for a given retirement date, has one SLI equal to '1'. The SLI value '0' indicates additional records.
Postal Code type (PCtype)
This indicates the type of addresses used to identify the points of call served by the postal code. This field was introduced by Canada Post Corporation (CPC) some time after the creation of the original PCCF. Where possible, a value has been imputed by Statistics Canada for retired postal codes using historical address information and delivery mode type.
|1||Street address with letter carrier service|
|2||Street address with route service|
|3||Post office box|
Community name (Comm_Name)
The community name, as defined by CPC, denotes any city, town or village in Canada that is recognised as a valid mailing address.
Delivery Mode Type (DMT)
This is the delivery mode type as defined by CPC. Note that Statistics Canada assigns a DMT of 'W' to rural postal codes, which are left blank by CPC. See Table 4.6 for DMT descriptions.
|DMT||Description||Number of postal codes||Number of records|
|A||Delivery to block-face address||775,202||1,350,023|
|B||Delivery to an apartment building||20,875||25,649|
|E||Delivery to a business building||9,962||13,691|
|G||Delivery to a large volume receiver||8,354||12,159|
|H||Delivery via a rural route||786||27,214|
|K||Delivery to a post office box (not a Community Mail Box)||7,528||18,494|
|M||Delivery to a large volume receiver (post office box)||5,267||13,547|
|T||Delivery via a suburban service||170||5,120|
|W||Rural postal codes (the second digit of the postal code is '0')||5,321||201,884|
|X||Delivery via a mobile route||0||0|
|Z||Postal code is retired (no further delivery to this code)||8,183||18,404|
|Note: Some postal codes may have more than one delivery mode type.|
Historic Delivery Mode Type (H_DMT)
The historic delivery mode retains the previous delivery mode type value, if known. If the previous DMT is not known, it contains the current DMT.
Birth date (Birth_Date)
This is the date when the postal code became effective. All postal codes created before April 1983 were given a birth date of '19830401'.
Retired date (Ret_Date)
This is the date when a postal code was retired. All postal codes retired before April 1983 have '19830401' as the retirement date. Users should note that some postal codes have been retired and reintroduced at a later date. Active postal codes have a retirement date of '19000001'.
Delivery Installation (PO)
This indicates whether the record represents coding to a post office where the mail can be accessed. The value '1' indicates this record was coded to a post office or other postal installation and the value '2' indicates 'unknown'. The value '0' indicates this record was coded to the area serviced by the postal code.
Postal code type (PCtype) 3 and 5 postal codes represent mail service that can be accessed at the post office or other postal installation. Where possible, these records are coded to the appropriate post office or other postal installation.
Quality indicator (QI)
The quality indicator (QI) provides an indicator of the quality of the link established between the postal code and the geographic area. The QI is established at the record level and is currently available only for the postal codes that were geocoded using the automated geocoding system. A QI of 'AAA' indicates the highest quality and a QI of 'CCC' indicates the lowest quality. The possible values of QI and the number of records by source are indicated in Table 4.7.
The final quality indicator output after geocoding is complete is a concatenation such that:
QI = QI_1 | QI_2 | QI_3
The quality indicator (QI_1)
QI_1 indicates the quality of the general area where geocoding occurred. It is an indicator of our certainty that the postal code is linked to the correct census subdivision.
QI is assigned as follows:
- A good, verifiable geocoding, search area verified by more than one source
- B good, search area based on 2006 Census data
- C satisfactory approximation based on place name match to CSD alone
- N unknown
The quality indicator (QI_2)
QI_2 indicates the level of confidence of the match to the correct street. This is not available for Postal Code type (PCtype) 3, 4 and 5 records, when delivery installation (PO) = 0 or 2, since they do not represent service to a particular civic address; when PO = 1 QI_2 represents the confidence of the match to a delivery installation address.
QI is assigned as follows:
- A good, match on street name, type, and direction
- B good, but match only on street name and type
- C satisfactory match on street name only or street name and direction
- N unknown
The quality indicator (QI_3)
QI_3 indicates the level of confidence of the match to the correct address range. This is not available for PCtype 3, 4 and 5 records, when PO = 0 or 2, since they do not represent service to a particular civic address; when PO = 1 QI_3 represents the confidence of the match to a delivery installation address.
QI is assigned as follows:
- A good, if the parity was matched on both addresses on the Spatial Data Infrastructure
- B good, but the parity was matched on one address only on the Spatial Data Infrastructure
- C satisfactory, if the parity was not matched but the ranges overlap
- N unknown
The source indicates the primary source of the geocoding. The values of the source are given in Table 4.8.
|1||Automated geocoding directly to 2006 Census geographic areas|
|2||Geocoded using 2006 Census response|
|3||Converted from geocoding done to 2001 Census geographic areas|
Population centre and rural area classification (POP_CNTR_RA_SIZE_CLASS)
Population centre and rural area classification:
- rural area
- small population centre (1,000 to 29,999)
- medium population centre (30,000 to 99,999)
- large urban population centre (100,000 or greater)
Name files record layouts
To reduce the size of the PCCF, names for census divisions, Statistical Area Classification, federal electoral districts – 2003 Representation Order, are shown in the following individual name files.
|1||4||C||CDuid||Census division unique identifier|
|5||100||C||CDname||Census division name|
|1||3||C||SAC||Statistical Area Classification unique identifier|
|4||100||C||SACname||Statistical Area Classification name|
|1||5||C||FED03uid||Federal electoral district – 2003 Representation Order unique identifier|
|6||100||C||FED03name||Federal electoral district – 2003 Representation Order name|
The current version of the Postal Code Conversion File (PCCF) includes five files: the PCCF, three name files (CD_DR.txt, FED03_CEF03.txt, SAC_CSS.txt), and a special file, Retired 2005 (R2005.txt). Postal codes retired before January 1, 2006 are included in the Retired 2005 file. This reduces the size of the PCCF. These are ASCII files and do not include any software nor instructions on how to use the product within specific Geographical Information Systems (GIS) or mapping packages.
The naming convention for Postal Code Conversion Files (PCCF) is bilingual and reflects the reference date of the Canada Post Corporation (CPC) data used in the release.
Data files in this release are:
Provincial / territorial files
|pccf||file name - english|
|provincial code (10, 11, 12, 13, 24, 35, 46, 47, 48, 59, 60, 61, 62)||2-digit province code (see Province or territory code [PR])|
|MAY11||reference date of CPC postal code data (month, year)|
|fccp||file name - french|
- Date modified: