Postal code

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Detailed definition

The postal codeOM is a six-character code defined and maintained by Canada Post Corporation for the purpose of sorting and delivering mail.

Image of postal code


2011, 2006, 2001, 1996 (100% data)
1991, 1986 (20% sample)


Structure of the postal codeOM

The form of the postal codeOM is 'ANA NAN', where A is an alphabetic character and N is a numeric character. The first character of a postal codeOM represents a province or territory, or a major sector entirely within a province (Table 9).

Table 9 First character of the postal code and corresponding province, territory or region

The first three characters of the postal codeOM identify the forward sortation area (FSA). FSAs are associated with a postal facility from which mail delivery originates.

Table 1 in the Introduction shows the number of postal codesOM and forward sortation areas by province and territory. They are provided by Canada Post Corporation and are valid as of May 2011.

Postal codesOM captured from census questionnaires

The postal codeOM is captured for all households from the address information provided by the respondent on the front page of the census questionnaire on May 10, 2011. The respondent's postal codeOM is accepted whether or not it is the same as the postal codeOM assigned by Canada Post Corporation to that address. The postal codeOM of a household is validated and processed using the following criteria:

  • The respondent's postal codeOM is validated against a reference file at the census subdivision level. Priority is always given to accepting the postal codeOM that is most likely to have been active and in use on Census Day. However, postal codesOM that may have been retired by Canada Post Corporation within the last six months but continue to be used may be accepted in some cases.
  • In cases where a postal codeOM is not provided or is not valid, an imputation process assigns a valid postal codeOM.

The postal codeOM provided by respondents may not be the same as the postal codeOM of the dwelling in which they live. For example, they may denote the postal codeOM of their mailing address, such as a post office location (as in the case of general delivery) or a business location. Consequently, some respondents' postal codesOM may fall outside the FSA in which their dwelling is located.

Users should proceed with caution if postal codesOM are used as a proxy for standard geographic areas. Postal codesOM do not necessarily respect the boundaries of standard geographic areas (e.g., the same postal codeOM can fall in two or more census subdivisions).

For more detailed information, refer to the Postal Code Conversion File, Reference Guide (Catalogue no. 92-153-G).

OM: Postal code is an official mark of Canada Post Corporation.

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