3. About this product

Skip to text

Purpose of the product
Definitions and concepts
General methodology
Comparison to other products/versions
Using with other products
Reference date

Text begins

Purpose of the product

The purpose of the Postal CodeOM Conversion File (PCCF) is to provide a link between six-character postal codesOM and standard 2011 Census geographic areas (e.g., dissemination areas, census subdivisions, census tracts). The purpose of the file is not to validate postal codesOM.

Definitions and concepts

Geographic terms and concepts are briefly defined in the glossary (Appendix A). More details can be found in the 2011 Census Dictionary (Catalogue no. 98-301-X) and the 2011 Illustrated Glossary (Catalogue no. 92-195-X).


This version of the PCCF contains a total of 848,476 postal codesOM (845,396 active, 3,080 retired codes that are not active). Postal codesOM retired before January 1, 2011 are included in a separate file called Retired 2010 (R2010.txt), available with the PCCF. These postal codesOM are linked to the geographic areas used in the 2011 Census, which include latitude and longitude coordinates. This file contains postal codeOM data under license from Canada Post Corporation (CPC). The CPC file from which the active postal codeOM data were obtained is dated June 2013. The PCCF includes all valid postal codesOM where it was possible to link to Statistics Canada’s geographic frame and therefore determine a link to one or more standard geostatistical areas as of June 2013 according to CPC. The PCCF is available as a national file.

Postal codesOM do not respect census geographic boundaries and so may be linked to more than one standard geographic area, or assigned to more than one set of coordinates. Therefore, one postal codeOM may be represented by more than one record. Postal codesOM can also straddle provincial boundaries. See the Technical specifications section for more information on postal codesOM.

Table 3.1 provides the number of unique postal codesOM and total records by province and territory. (Table 4.3 in the Technical specifications section provides counts of postal codesOM by the first letter of the forward sortation area©.)

Table 3.1
Province and territory postal codeOM counts
Table summary
This table displays the results of province and territory postal codeOM counts. The information is grouped by province or territory (appearing as row headers), unique postal codesOM and number of records (appearing as column headers).
Province or territory Unique postal codesOM Number of records
Newfoundland and Labrador   11,133   21,610
Prince Edward Island   3,995   10,277
Nova Scotia   28,171   64,840
New Brunswick   59,530   104,545
Quebec   215,419   471,164
Ontario   282,123   615,409
Manitoba   24,934   41,754
Saskatchewan   22,214   35,137
Alberta   82,962   169,632
British Columbia   116,462   240,190
Yukon   983   1,879
Northwest Territories   522   1,494
Nunavut   28   96
Total   848,476   1,777,977

Each record in the file consists of the following:

  • six-character postal codeOM
  • dissemination area (DA) identifier: made up of the province/territory code, the census division code and the dissemination area code
  • dissemination block: a basic geographic unit (where possible)
  • latitude and longitude coordinates of the census geography to which the postal codeOM is linked
  • census subdivision (CSD) name, code and type
  • geographic codes of other higher level standard geographic areas in which the dissemination block/dissemination area is located
  • federal electoral district code – 2003 Representation Order
  • CPC information relevant to each postal codeOM: its birth date, retirement date, type of mail delivery, CPC community name, and various flags: single link indicator, type of representation point, and postal codeOM type.
  • Record level metadata related to the quality such as the quality indicator and the source of geocoding. There is also an indicator showing whether the postal codeOM is linked to a postal installation.

Purchasers of the PCCF also receive supplementary files. Due to the size of the name fields, and because of their repetition, the names are provided in separate files:

  • Census division names file (CD_DR.txt)
  • Federal electoral district names file – 2003 Representation Order (FED03_CEF03.txt)
  • Statistical Area Classification names file (SAC_CSS.txt)
  • Retired 2010 (R2010.txt)

The basic link between the postal codeOM and other standard census geographic areas is made through one or more 2011 Census dissemination blocks. The geographic areas contained on the PCCF are shown on the hierarchy chart (Appendix B).

The PCCF is available as a standard package for Canada. Custom orders are available on request. Contact us by e-mail or by visiting our website.

General methodology

The Postal CodeOM Conversion File (PCCF) is updated on a regular basis and is released yearly. The regular maintenance of the file takes all postal codeOM changes continually introduced by Canada Post Corporation (CPC) and finds the corresponding census geographic areas. Every five years, after each census, the PCCF is aligned with the new census geographic areas.

Every month, Statistics Canada obtains files from CPC containing the latest postal codesOM, address ranges and other attributes such as delivery mode type. Whenever possible, postal codeOM address ranges are linked to a block-face, dissemination block or dissemination area. Municipality maps are also used and, when necessary, contact is made with local authorities to obtain as precise a street and address location as possible. When the block-face or dissemination block cannot be precisely determined, the postal codeOM is coded to a dissemination area(s).

All other postal codeOM links to higher level geographic areas are derived from the block-face, dissemination block or dissemination area.


The PCCF contains multiple records for a postal codeOM when the postal codeOM straddles more than one block-face, dissemination block, or dissemination area. It should be acknowledged that the Canada Post Corporation source data used to create the PCCF contains some postal codesOM which have links to multiple address ranges. For example, in the June 2013 file received from Canada Post Corporation, 889 postal codesOM were linked to between 50 and 100 different address ranges, and 558 postal codesOM were linked to 100 or more address ranges.

Civic addresses are not available for some postal codesOM such as those associated with rural routes. Many of these postal codesOM tend to straddle several dissemination areas and often cross boundaries of standard geographic areas such as census tracts or census subdivisions. It is difficult, if not impossible, to identify the precise physical location of a rural postal codeOM.

Community mailboxes are a growing source for multiple records per postal codeOM on the PCCF. In newer urban delivery areas, postal codesOM are assigned to a community mailbox that may cover partial dissemination blocks, both sides of a street, and different streets within 200 metres of the community mailbox. These situations often result in multiple links being established between a postal codeOM and block-faces, unlike the more traditional urban postal codesOM, which correspond generally to a block-face.

The single link indicator (SLI) was created to assist users in dealing with postal codesOM with multiple records. The method used to establish the single link indicator identifies the geographic area with the majority of dwellings assigned to a particular postal codeOM. Users should be aware that only a partial correspondence between the postal codeOM and other geographic areas is achieved when using the single link indicator. It should also be noted that the single link indicator is identified on both active and retired postal codesOM. Users will find when working with both active and retired postal codesOM, multiple SLIs will appear for a postal codeOM that has been retired and reintroduced.

Table 3.2 presents the number of postal codesOM (including retired postal codesOM) that show multiple links by geographic area.

Table 3.2
Postal codesOM with multiple links
Table summary
This table displays the results of postal codesOM with multiple links. The information is grouped by geographic area (appearing as row headers), number of postal codesOM (appearing as column headers).
Geographic area Number of postal codesOM
Dissemination block 129,029
Dissemination area 75,350
Census tract 13,610
Census subdivision 6,162
Census division 1,178
Census metropolitan area 132
Province or territory 0

The address associated with a postal codeOM does not always represent the location where those receiving mail using that postal codeOM actually reside. This is particularly the case in rural areas, where rural route service and post office pick-up are commonly used to deliver mail. The delivery mode type of 'W' (rural) and 'H' (rural route) on the PCCF identify postal codesOM that are usually considered rural.

A typical rural route address, such as 'RR#6, Georgeville, Québec', does not provide sufficient address information to identify a precise physical location. A rural post office address such as 'PO BOX 4001 STN A VICTORIA BC' is also imprecise and not explicitly attached to the dwellings served by that postal codeOM. Consequently, rural postal codesOM cannot be used in the same manner as most urban postal codesOM can to precisely geo-reference a physical location.

Similarly, postal codesOM with a delivery mode type of 'K' (group of post office boxes) or 'M' (one post office box) may be linked to the location of the postal installation on the PCCF, as opposed to the physical location of customers who rent a post office box. A new variable indicating whether a postal codeOM is linked to a post office location or to where the customers reside is now available in the PCCF.

Comparison to other products/versions

  • The 2011 Census PCCF record layout has not changed when compared to the 2006 Census PCCF.
  • The 2011 Census PCCF links to 2011 Census geographic areas, whereas the 2006 Census PCCFs linked to 2006 Census geographic areas.

Using with other products

Not applicable

Reference date

The reference date for postal codesOM contained in this product is June 2013.

The geographic reference date is a date determined by Statistics Canada to finalize the geographic framework for which the census data are collected, tabulated and reported. The geographic reference date for the 2011 Census is January 1, 2011.

Report a problem on this page

Is something not working? Is there information outdated? Can't find what you're looking for?

Please contact us and let us know how we can help you.

Privacy notice

Date modified: