Postal CodeOM Conversion File (PCCF), Reference Guide

Release date: December 13, 2017

This reference guide is intended for users of the Postal CodeOM Conversion File (PCCF). The guide provides an overview of the file, the general methodology used in its creation and important technical information.

What's new

Table 3.1 provides the number of unique postal codesOM and total records by province and territory.

© This data includes information copied with permission from Canada Post Corporation.
OM. Postal code is an official mark of Canada Post Corporation.

1. About this guide

This reference guide is intended for users of the Postal CodeOM Conversion File (PCCF). The guide provides an overview of the file, the general methodology used in its creation and important technical information.

This data product is provided 'as-is,' and Statistics Canada makes no warranty, either express or implied, including but not limited to, warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. In no event will Statistics Canada be liable for any direct, special, indirect, consequential or other damages, however caused.

2. Overview

The Postal CodeOM Conversion File (PCCF) is a digital file which provides a correspondence between the Canada Post Corporation (CPC) six-character postal codeOM and Statistics Canada's standard geographic areas for which census data and other statistics are produced. Through the link between postal codesOM and standard geographic areas, the PCCF permits the integration of data from various sources.

The geographic coordinates, which represent the standard geostatistical areas linked to each postal codeOM on the PCCF, are commonly used to map the distribution of data for spatial analysis (e.g., clients, activities). The location information is a powerful tool for marketing, planning, or research purposes.

In April 1983, the Statistical Registers and Geography Division released the first version of the PCCF, which linked postal codesOM to 1981 Census geographic areas and included geographic coordinates. Since then, the file has been updated on a regular basis to reflect changes.

For this release of the PCCF, the vast majority of the postal codesOM are directly geocoded to 2016 Census geography while others are linked via various conversion processes. A quality indicator for the confidence of this linkage is available in the PCCF.

How to cite this guide

Postal CodeOM Conversion File (PCCF), Reference Guide, 2017. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 92-154-G.

How to cite this product

Postal CodeOM Conversion File (PCCF), 2017. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 92-154-X.

Acknowledgements

© This data includes information copied with permission from Canada Post Corporation.

3. About this product

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 2016 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 Dictionary, Census of Population, 2016.

Content

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. The PCCF is available as a national file.

Table 3.1 provides the number of unique postal codesOM and total records by province and territory.

Table 3.1
Province and territory postal codeOM counts
Table summary
This table displays the results of Table 3.1 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 11,135 22,980
Prince Edward Island 3,782 9,880
Nova Scotia 28,269 69,376
New Brunswick 58,699 104,432
Quebec 215,376 497,498
Ontario 282,624 640,552
Manitoba 25,117 44,541
Saskatchewan 22,246 37,984
Alberta 85,126 199,389
British Columbia 116,743 243,544
Yukon 992 1,962
Northwest Territories 520 1,522
Nunavut 27 94
Total 850,656 1,873,754

Each record in the file consists of the following:

The PCCF also includes a file for Retired postal codesOM that were retired prior to 2016.

The PCCF is available as a standard package for Canada. Custom orders are available on request. Please contact us at 1-800-263-1136 or STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca.

General methodology

The Postal CodeOM Conversion File (PCCF) is updated and released on a regular basis.  The regular maintenance of the file takes all postal codeOM changes continually introduced by Canada Post Corporation (CPC) and determines 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 blockface, dissemination block or dissemination area. When the blockface 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 blockface, dissemination block or dissemination area.

Limitations

The PCCF contains multiple records for a postal codeOM when the postal codeOM straddles more than one blockface, 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.

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 also a 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 blockfaces, unlike the more traditional urban postal codesOM, which correspond generally to a blockface.

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.

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, QC', 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.

Using with other products

Not applicable

Reference date

The reference date for postal codesOM contained in this product is  June 2017.

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 2016 Census is January 1, 2016.

4. Technical specifications

Record layouts and data descriptions

Table 4.1
Postal CodeOM Conversion File (PCCF) and Retired 2015 (R2015.txt) record layouts
Table summary
This table displays the results of Table 4.1 Postal CodeOM Conversion File (PCCF) and Retired 2015 (R2015.txt) record layouts. The information is grouped by Position (appearing as row headers), Size, Type, Field name and Description (appearing as column headers).
Position Size TypeTable 4.1 Note 1 Field name Description
1 6 C Postal codeOM Postal codeOM
7 3 C FSA© Forward sortation area©
10 2 C PR Province or territory code
12 4 C CDuid Census division unique identifier
16 7 C CSDuid Census subdivision unique identifier
23 70 C CSDname Census subdivision name
93 3 C CSDtype Census subdivision type
96 3 C CCScode Census consolidated subdivision code
99 3 C SAC Statistical Area Classification code (includes CMA/CA)
102 1 C SACtype Statistical Area Classification type (includes CMA/CA)
103 7 C CTname Census tract name
110 2 C ER Economic region code
112 4 C DPL Designated place code
116 5 C FED13uid Federal electoral district – 2013 Representation Order unique identifier
121 4 C POP_CNTR_RA Population centre/rural area code
125 1 C POP_CNTR_RA_type Population centre/rural area type
126 8 C DAuid Dissemination area unique identifier
134 3 C Dissemination block Dissemination block code
137 1 C Rep_Pt_Type Representative point type
138 11 N LAT Latitude of lowest level geographic area for postal codeOM record (as indicated in Rep_point variable)
149 13 N LONG Longitude of lowest level geographic area for postal codeOM record (as indicated in Rep_point variable)
162 1 C SLI Single link indicator
163 1 C PCtype Postal codeOM type
164 30 C Comm_Name Community name
194 1 C DMT Delivery mode type
195 1 C H_DMT Historic delivery mode type
196 8 C Birth_Date Birth date (yyyymmdd)
204 8 C Ret_Date Retired date (yyyymmdd)
212 1 C PO Delivery installation
213 3 C QI Quality indicator
216 1 C Source Source of geocoding
217 1 C POP_CNTR_RA_SIZE_CLASS Population centre and rural area classification

Postal codeOM

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. Postal codes do not include the letters D, F, I, O, Q or U, and the first position also does not make use of the letters W or Z.

The first three characters of the postal codeOM ('ANA') represent a set of defined and mostly stable areas known as forward sortation areas© (FSAs©). The FSA© represents a specific postal delivery area within a major geographical region, a province or a territory. 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 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.

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 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 Standard Geographical Classification (SGC).

Census subdivision name (CSDname)

This contains the name of the census subdivision (municipality) in effect as of January 1, 2016.

Census subdivision type (CSDtype)

This field provides abbreviations used to identify the census subdivision (municipality) type.

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).

Statistical Area Classification type (SACtype)

This identifies the type of Statistical Area Classification in which the census subdivision is located.

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 – 2013 Representation Order unique identifier (FED13uid)

This uniquely identifies a federal electoral district – 2013 Representation Order. The first two digits of the FED13uid identify the province or territory (PR).

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.

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.

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.

Dissemination block

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 '000' 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 blockface, dissemination block or  dissemination area. 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. 

Blockface representative points

The blockface 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.

Geographic area representative points

The representative points for Dissemination Blocks and Dissemination Areas are generated in conjunction with their respective boundaries.

Latitude (LAT)

This is the latitude, in decimal degrees, of the dissemination area, dissemination block, or blockface representative point. The decimal point is explicit.

Longitude (LONG)

This is the longitude, in decimal degrees, of the dissemination area, dissemination block, or blockface 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 blockfaces. 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) 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.

Table 4.2
Postal codeOM types in the Postal CodeOM Conversion File (PCCF)
Table summary
This table displays the results of Postal codeOM types in the Postal CodeOM Conversion File (PCCF). The information is grouped by PCtype (appearing as row headers), Description (appearing as column headers).
PCtype Description
1 Street address with letter carrier service
2 Street address with route service
3 Post office box
4 Route service
5 General delivery
0 Unknown

Community name (Comm_Name)

The community name, as defined by CPC, denotes any city, town or village in Canada that is recognized 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 4.3 for DMT descriptions.

Table 4.3
Delivery mode types in the Postal CodeOM Conversion File (PCCF)
Table summary
This table displays the results of Table 4.3 Delivery mode types in the Postal CodeOM Conversion File (PCCF) . The information is grouped by DMT (appearing as row headers), Description (appearing as column headers).
DMT Description
A Delivery to blockface address
B Delivery to an apartment building
E Delivery to a business building
G Delivery to a large volume receiver
H Delivery via a rural route
J General delivery
K Delivery to a post office box (not a Community Mail Box)
M Delivery to a large volume receiver (post office box)
T Delivery via a suburban service
W Rural postal codesOM (the second digit of the postal codeOM is '0')
X Delivery via a mobile route
Z Postal codeOM is retired (no further delivery to this code)

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 Statistical Registers and 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 final quality indicator output after geocoding is complete is a concatenation such that: QI = QI_1 | QI_2 | QI_3

  1. The quality indicator (QI_1)
  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.
  2. QI is assigned as follows:
  1. A - Good, verifiable geocoding
  2. B - Good, search area based on 2016 Census data
  3. C - Satisfactory approximation based on place name match to CSD alone
  4. N - Unknown
  1. The quality indicator (QI_2)
  1. 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.

  2. QI is assigned as follows:
  1. A - Good, match on street name, type, and direction
  2. B - Good, but match only on street name and type
  3. C - Satisfactory match on street name only or street name and direction
  4. N - Unknown
  1. The quality indicator (QI_3)
  1. 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.

  2. QI is assigned as follows:
  1. A - Good, if the parity was matched on both addresses on the Spatial Data Infrastructure
  2. B - Good, but the parity was matched on one address only on the Spatial Data Infrastructure
  3. C - Satisfactory, if the parity was not matched but the ranges overlap
  4. 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.

Source
The source indicates the primary source of the geocoding. The values of the source are given in Table 4.4.

Table 4.4
Explanations of geocoding sources codes used in the Postal CodeOM Conversion File (PCCF) Table 4.4
Table summary
This table displays the results of Table 4.4 Explanations of geocoding sources codes used in the Postal CodeOM Conversion File (PCCF) Table 4.4. The information is grouped by Source (appearing as row headers), Explanation (appearing as column headers).
Source Explanation
1 Automated geocoding directly to Census geographic areas
2 Geocoded using Census response
3 Converted from geocoding done to previous Census geographic areas
4 Manually geocoded

Population centre and rural area classification (POP_CNTR_RA_SIZE_CLASS)

Population centre and rural area classification:

  1. rural area
  2. small population centre (1,000 to 29,999)
  3. medium population centre (30,000 to 99,999)
  4. large urban population centre (100,000 or greater)

File specifications

The current version of the Postal CodeOM Conversion File (PCCF) includes two files: the PCCF and a special file, Retired 2015 (R2015.txt). Postal codesOM retired before January 1, 2016 are included in the Retired 2015 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.

Software formats

Not applicable

System requirements

Not applicable

Installation instructions

Not applicable

Geographic representation

Not applicable

File naming convention

The naming convention for Postal CodeOM Conversion Files (PCCF) is bilingual and reflects the reference date (June 2017) of the Canada Post Corporation (CPC) data used in the release. The file name for this release is pccfNat_fccpNat_062017.zip.

5. Data quality

Linkage data quality elements provide information on the fitness-for-use of a linkage database by describing why, when, and how the data are created, and how accurate the data are. The quality elements include an overview reporting on lineage, positional accuracy, attribute accuracy, logical consistency and completeness. This information is provided to users for all linkage data products.

Lineage

Lineage describes the history of the linkage data, including descriptions of the source material from which the data were derived and the methods of derivation. It also contains the dates of the source material, and all transformations involved in producing the final digital files.

The Postal CodeOM Conversion File (PCCF) is the result of two updating activities. The first is done every five years, after each census, to align the database to the latest census geographic areas. The other is the ongoing maintenance activity that links the latest postal codesOM from Canada Post Corporation (CPC) to census geographic areas. These links are recorded on the Statistical Registers and Geography Division's postal codeOM database.

Linking to 2016 Census geographic areas

Sources
Process

The following steps were used to assign 2016 Census geographic areas to the PCCF:

  1. Process information from the CPC files
  2. Automated geocoding of postal codesOM to blockface or 2016 Census dissemination block or dissemination area
  3. Assign 2016 Census dissemination blocks or dissemination areas for postal codesOM using the correspondence between 2011 Census and 2016 Census geographic areas
  4. Manually geocode postal codesOM
  5. Sample verification of postal codeOM records
  6. Assign the single link indicator (SLI)
  7. Assign higher levels of geography.

Step 1: Process information from the CPC files

The monthly files received from CPC are processed to assign birth date, retired date, historic delivery mode type (H_DMT) and delivery mode type (DMT). Records are extracted from the CPC Address Lookup File with the postal codeOM, postal codeOM type (PCtype) and related address information. Birth date is the date the postal codeOM became effective. Retired date is the date the postal codeOM is no longer found in the CPC monthly files. The delivery mode type is assigned using the Delivery Mode Type File. When a DMT is updated for a postal codeOM, the previous DMT becomes the H_DMT. Users should note that some postal codesOM are retired and reintroduced at a later date, possibly in another location.

Step 2: Automated geocoding of postal codesOM to 2016 Census blockface, dissemination block or dissemination area

All active postal codesOM are geocoded using an automated geocoding system. A detailed discussion of the approach to geocoding is found in the working paper entitled How Postal Codes Map to Geographic Areas (Catalogue no. 92F0138MIE2007001), which is available on the Statistics Canada website.

The system uses the forward sortation area© (FSA©) search area file and a match between CPC municipality and census subdivision (CSD) to determine the general area where the postal codeOM would be found. Census responses are used to create FSA© search areas. These FSA© areas are composed of dissemination areas where a particular FSA© was reported in the 2016 Census. Canada Post municipalities are matched to 2016 Census subdivisions using the province of the municipality and the similarity in name. When the match is not clear, historical CSD files on the Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) are used to determine the match.

Postal codesOM with civic address ranges associated with them (PCtype 1 and 2) are coded to the appropriate dissemination area, dissemination block or blockface in the SDI. The vast majority of the PCtype 1 and 2 postal codeOM records in the PCCF were coded in this way.

The postal codeOM response in the 2016 Census is used to code rural routes, postal installation/post office boxes and postal codesOM that service general areas. These postal codesOM are geocoded to the dissemination area (DA) level. The number of DAs coded to is reduced in a post process to remove duplication in DA assignment. However, not all active postal codesOM are geocoded in this way, either because the address information is not found or the census response is not significant (at least four responses of that postal codeOM per dissemination block) to determine the appropriate area for geocoding.

A quality indicator (QI) is assigned in the automated geocoding process. The indicator is based on the confidence of the link of the postal codeOM to the geographic area.

Step 3: Assign 2016 Census dissemination areas for postal codesOM using the correspondence between 2011 Census and 2016 Census geographic areas for postal codesOM that had been previous assigned to a dissemination area  

When a match could not be found through the automated address matching system, postal codesOM that had been previously coded to a 2011 Census geographic area are linked to a 2016 Census geographic area using the correspondence between 2011 Census and 2016 Census geographic areas

Step 4: Manually geocode postal codesOM

Postal codesOM are manually geocoded when they could not be coded at an acceptable degree of precision using the automated process or when they could not be converted using the correspondence between the 2011 Census and 2016 Census geographic areas.

In addressable areas covered by the Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI), an attempt is made to link postal codesOM to one or more blockfaces. The list of new postal codesOM and address range records from CPC was matched to the SDI street listings according to elements common to both files (e.g., province, municipality, street name, type, direction, and address range). Once matched, the postal codeOM and related geographic area codes are transferred to the postal codeOM database.

Step 5: Sample verification of postal codeOM records

The relationship between the postal codeOM, dissemination blocks and dissemination areas is verified by sampling records from the geocoding completed in each of the processes above. These records are independently manually geocoded. The two sets of geocodes are compared as part of the verification.

Step 6: Assign the single link indicator (SLI)

Many postal codesOM are represented by multiple records on the PCCF. The single link indicator (SLI) is created to assist users dealing with postal codesOM having multiple records. The SLI provides a geographic record for mapping a postal codeOM representative point. The SLI has a value of '1' to flag the best (or only) link for a given postal codeOM. The value '0' indicates an additional record.

Please note that the SLI is identified on both active and retired postal codesOM. Users will find when working with both active and retired postal codesOM that multiple SLIs will appear for a postal codeOM that was retired and reintroduced. However, there will only be one SLI for a set of active records for a postal codeOM.

When assigning the SLI, priority is given to postal codesOM associated with civic addresses or dwellings (based on the PCtype). The confidence of coding to the geographic area (the quality indicator) and the precision of the geocoding (the blockface, dissemination area or dissemination block), as well as the population, are considered. When the postal codeOM was linked to a DA associated with multiple federal electoral district (FED), population centre (POPCTR), or designated place (DPL), the SLI is linked to the record represented by the greatest proportion of the FED, POPCTR, or DPL population.

Users are cautioned that the SLI provides only a partial correspondence between the postal codeOM and other geographic areas.

Step 7: Assign higher levels of geography

Higher levels of geography are assigned based on the blockface, dissemination block, or dissemination area. When a dissemination area is related to more than one FED, POPCTR or DPL, more than one record appears in the PCCF for that postal codeOM to dissemination areas linkage.

Positional accuracy

Positional accuracy refers to the absolute and relative accuracy of the positions of geographic features. Absolute accuracy is the closeness of the coordinate values in a dataset to values accepted as being true. Relative accuracy is the closeness of the relative positions of features to their respective relative positions accepted as or being true. Descriptions of positional accuracy include the quality of the final file or product after all transformations.

The geographic coordinates assigned to postal codesOM are either blockface, dissemination block or dissemination area representative points calculated for census purposes. Therefore, the positional accuracy of the postal codeOM is dependent on:

Using different methods to create links in the PCCF results in varying degrees of accuracy for those links. Postal codesOM linked to blockfaces are considered to be the more precise, as they are linked as closely as possible to address ranges representing the location of the postal codeOM according to CPC. When the blockface link cannot be produced, postal codesOM are linked to a dissemination block or dissemination area.

The quality indicator (QI) illustrates the confidence of the link established between the postal codeOM and the more precise geographic area for each record geocoded using the automated system.

The geographic coordinates included on the PCCF are derived from Statistics Canada's Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI). Users should be aware that absolute positional accuracy is not an intended feature of the SDI. Consequently, these files and any by-product are not recommended for engineering or legal applications or for emergency dispatching services.

Attribute accuracy

Attribute accuracy refers to the accuracy of the quantitative and qualitative information attached to each feature (such as population for a population centre, street name, census subdivision name and code).

The PCCF is a flat file providing attributes for postal codesOM and for those dissemination area(s), dissemination block(s), etc. linked to the postal codeOM. Most of these attributes are taken from two independent sources. Some attributes are also created for the PCCF.

The geographic code, type, and name of all higher level standard geographic areas in which a blockface, dissemination block or dissemination area is located are extracted from the Spatial Data Infrastructure.

The information relevant to each postal codeOM – birth date, retirement date, delivery mode type, type of postal codeOM and CPC community name – is carried forward from the CPC address look-up file and auxiliary files. In some cases, the postal codeOM type was imputed by Statistics Canada.

The single link indicator and the type of representative point are assigned by Statistics Canada.

Tests are run to ensure that certain basic data relationships were consistent within the set of records in the PCCF.

Logical consistency

Logical consistency describes the fidelity of relationships encoded in the data structure of the digital linkage data.

In some cases, especially in rural areas, the postal codeOM service areas do not respect dissemination area boundaries. When this occurs, the same postal codeOM is repeated with different geographical information (i.e., different coordinates or dissemination area codes). These multiple records for a postal codeOM reflect the relationship between the postal codeOM and census geographic areas. Also, a postal codeOM can be linked to more than one blockface or dissemination block within the same dissemination area.

Conversely, different postal codesOM could have the same coordinates. This happens when more than one postal codeOM has been linked to the same dissemination area. Also, more than one postal codeOM can be linked to a single blockface or dissemination block.

Every set of active records for a postal codeOM has one SLI equal to '1.' Every set of retired records for a postal codeOM, for a given retirement date, has one SLI equal to '1.'

Consistency with other products

Geographic areas contained in the PCCF are consistent with all 2016 Census related geographic products, except for the 2016 Census Forward Sortation Area Boundary File (Catalogue no. 92-179-X). The 2016 Census Forward Sortation Area Boundary File represents only the forward sortation areas© as reported in the 2016 Census responses, whereas the PCCF is updated annually to include recent postal codesOM and also includes retired postal codesOM and uses geocoding methods to assigned relationships.  

Completeness

Completeness refers to the degree to which geographic features, their attributes and their relationships are included or omitted in a dataset. It also includes information on selection criteria, definitions used, and other relevant mapping rules.

Completeness in the context of the PCCF is the degree to which all valid postal codesOM are accounted for on the PCCF and all geographic codes from the 2016 Census are linked to a postal codeOM. Almost all postal codesOM as of June 2017 according to CPC have been linked to census geography.

There are also retired postal codesOM included in the PCCF. Postal codesOM retired before January 1, 2016 are included in the Retired 2015 text file, R2015.txt.

The quality indicator (QI) is currently available only for the records using the automated geocoding process. When postal codesOM were geocoded using address information, each of the three characters of the QI contains an 'A', 'B' or 'C' indicating the confidence of geocoding. When the QI could not be determined, an 'N' is used to represent 'unknown.' The QI for the records that are manually geocoded or were directly converted from the 2011 Census geocodes contain an 'NNN' for the QI.

Every attempt was made to ensure that the delivery installation (PO) value indicated whether a postal codeOM of PCtype 3 or 5 was coded to a postal installation or to the area serviced by the postal codeOM. Occasionally a PCtype 3 or 5 record may be coded to a postal installation (indicated in a record with PO='1') and to a service area (indicated by a record with PO='0'). In some cases, including where the geographic area linkages were directly based on conversion from the 2011 Census geocodes, the PO is unknown (this is indicated by a PO='2').

Appendices

See definitions of the Geography universe from the Dictionary, Census of Population, 2016.

See Figure 1.1 Hierarchy of standard geographic areas for dissemination, 2016 Census from the Dictionary, Census of Population, 2016.

See Table 1.1 Geographic areas by province and territory, 2016 Census from the Dictionary, Census of Population, 2016.

See Table 1.5 Census subdivision types by province and territory, 2016 Census from the Dictionary, Census of Population, 2016.

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