4. Technical specifications
The postal codeOM 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 codeOM 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 codeOM 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 or region||Postal codeOM 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 CodeOM Conversion File (PCCF), there are 19 postal codesOM linked to a different province from their first character allocation. The counts of postal codesOM given by province and territory in Table 4.3 are generated by grouping all postal codesOM by the first letter of the forward sortation area©.
|Province or territory||Unique postal codesOM||Number of records|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||11,133||21,610|
|Prince Edward Island||3,995||10,227|
The first three characters of the postal codeOM ('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, a province or a territory. As of June 2013, there were 1,641 FSAs© in use across Canada. There were 1,457 FSAs© with urban mail delivery service and only 184 with rural mail delivery service. Rural postal codesOM are identifiable by the presence of a zero (0) in the second position of the FSA© code. Urban postal codesOM are composed of FSAs© with numerals 1 to 9 in the second position of the code.
The last three characters of the postal codeOM ('NAN') identify routes known as local delivery units (LDUs). In population centres, a single postal codeOM 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 or 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 codeOM 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 codeOM identifies a specific rural community.
Forward sortation area© (FSA©)
The forward sortation area© is the first three characters of the postal codeOM, 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 2011 Standard Geographical Classification (SGC).
Census subdivision name (CSDname)
This contains the name of the census subdivision (municipality) in effect as of January 1, 2011.
Census subdivision type (CSDtype)
This field provides abbreviations used to identify the census subdivision (municipality) type. See Appendix D, Census subdivision types by province and territory, 2011 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 influenced zone (strong metropolitan influenced zone, moderate metropolitan influenced zone, weak metropolitan influenced zone or no metropolitan influenced zone), or the territories (Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut). Corresponding names are found in the Statistical Area Classification names file (SAC_CSS.txt).
- 000 Territories, outside of CA
- 001 to 995 CMA/CA unique identifier
- 996 Strong metropolitan influenced zone
- 997 Moderate metropolitan influenced zone
- 998 Weak metropolitan influenced zone
- 999 No metropolitan influenced zone
Statistical Area Classification type (SACtype)
This identifies the type of Statistical Area Classification in which the census subdivision is located.
- 1 Census subdivision within census metropolitan area
- 2 Census subdivision within census agglomeration with at least one census tract
- 3 Census subdivision within census agglomeration having no census tracts
- 4 Census subdivision outside of census metropolitan area and census agglomeration having strong metropolitan influence
- 5 Census subdivision outside of census metropolitan area and census agglomeration having moderate metropolitan influence
- 6 Census subdivision outside of census metropolitan area and census agglomeration having weak metropolitan influence
- 7 Census subdivision outside of census metropolitan area and census agglomeration having no metropolitan influence
- 8 Census subdivision within the territories, outside of census agglomeration
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.' 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 or 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 or territory. This field must be combined with the province or territory code to uniquely identify an economic region.
Designated place code (DPL)
This identifies a designated place within a province or territory. This field must be combined with the province or 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 or 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 or territory code. For example, records in rural areas in Manitoba are assigned '9946.' This field will be '0000' for postal codesOM linked to dissemination areas (Rep_Pt_Type = 3) and census subdivisions (Rep_Pt_Type = 4).
Population centre/rural area type (POP_CNTR_RA_type)
For population centres, the type code indicates the relationship of the population centre to the census metropolitan area and census agglomeration structure.
- 0 Rural area
- 1 Core
- 2 Fringe
- 4 Population centre outside CMAs and CAs
- 6 Secondary core
This field will be '9' for postal codesOM linked to dissemination areas (Rep_Pt_Type = 3) and census subdivisions (Rep_Pt_Type = 4). There is no POP_CNTR_RA_type available for postal codesOM linked at the dissemination area or census subdivision level. POP_CNTR_RA_type is only available for postal codesOM 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 or 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 dissemination area unique identifier to uniquely identify the dissemination block within the country. This field will be '00' for postal codesOM linked to dissemination areas (Rep_Pt_Type = 3) or census subdivisions (Rep_Pt_Type = 4).
Representative point type (Rep_Pt_Type)
This identifies whether the record uses a block-face, dissemination block, dissemination area or census subdivision 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 codesOM 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 codeOM representative point. It can be used to establish a one-to-one relationship between postal codesOM and dissemination areas, dissemination blocks, or block-faces. The SLI has the value of '1' to flag one record of an active postal codeOM. Every set of retired records for a postal codeOM, for a given retirement date, has one SLI equal to '1.' The SLI value '0' indicates additional records.
Postal codeOM type (PCtype)
This indicates the type of addresses used to identify the points of call served by the postal codeOM. 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 codesOM 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 codesOM, which are left blank by CPC. See Table 4.6 for DMT descriptions.
|DMT||Description||Number of postal codesOM||Number of records|
|A||Delivery to block-face address||786,187||1,390,060|
|B||Delivery to an apartment building||21,596||23,806|
|E||Delivery to a business building||9,975||11,811|
|G||Delivery to a large volume receiver||8,056||10,347|
|H||Delivery via a rural route||636||29,527|
|K||Delivery to a post office box (not a Community Mail Box)||7,618||14,587|
|M||Delivery to a large volume receiver (post office box)||5,115||9,528|
|T||Delivery via a suburban service||281||12,573|
|W||Rural postal codesOM (the second digit of the postal codeOM is '0')||5,352||268,826|
|X||Delivery via a mobile route||0||0|
|Z||Postal codeOM is retired (no further delivery to this code)||3,321||5,943|
Note: Some postal codesOM 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 approximate date when the postal codeOM became effective. All postal codesOM created before April 1983 were given a birth date of '19830401.'
Retired date (Ret_Date)
This is the approximate date when a postal codeOM was retired. All postal codesOM retired before April 1983 have '19830401' as the retirement date. Users should note that some postal codesOM have been retired and reintroduced at a later date. Active postal codesOM 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 codeOM.
Postal codeOM type (PCtype) 3 and 5 postal codesOM 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 provides an indicator of the quality of the geocoding that links the postal codeOM and its address information and that of the Geography Division's Spatial Data Infrastructure. The QI is established at the record level and is currently available only for the postal codesOM 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 codeOM 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 2011 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 codeOM 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
For more information, please see the working paper entitled How Postal Codes Map to Geographic Areas (Catalogue no. 92F0138MIE2007001), which is available on the Statistics Canada website.
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 2011 Census geographic areas|
|2||Geocoded using 2011 Census response|
|3||Converted from geocoding done to 2006 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 CodeOM 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 2010 (R2010.txt). Postal codesOM retired before January 1, 2011 are included in the Retired 2010 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 CodeOM Conversion Files (PCCF) is bilingual and reflects the reference date (June 2013) of the Canada Post Corporation (CPC) data used in the release. The file name for this release is pccfNat_JUN13_fccpNat.zip.