Geography Working Paper Series
Dissemination Geography Unique Identifier: Definition and Structure

Release date: November 13, 2019


This document describes the structure of the Dissemination Geography Unique Identifier (DGUID) code. This code is used within Statistics Canada’s Common Output Database Repository (CODR).

The DGUID is a skeleton key for linking geospatial data and statistical data. It facilitates linking every geographic area maintained by Statistics Canada with data tables that use geographic names within CODR

Principles and assumptions

In developing the structure of the DGUID, the following principles are implemented:

  1. Language neutral
  2. Minimal change (re-uses existing geographic structure/codes as much as possible)
  3. Exhaustive (complete) and accommodating (adaptable)
  4. Easily understood, intuitive and decodable by internal and external users
  5. Minimal amount of IT storage space


The DGUID varies from 10 to 21 characters in length (Figure 1 and Table 1).

The first 9 characters are fixed in composition and length. These characters indicate the vintage, type and schema of geographic boundaries. 

The geographic unique identifier that follows varies from 1 to 12 characters in length, which corresponds to the geographic area within a geographic boundary.

The four elements composing the DGUID are as follows:

Figure 1 Structure of DGUID

Description for Figure 1

This figure presents the structure of the DGUID, where the first four digits are the vintage year, the fifth digit is the type of geographic area, digits six to nine are the schema of the geographic area, and from digit 10 to a maximum length of twelve digits are the geography unique identifier.

Table 1
Code structure breakdown
Table summary
This table displays the results of Code structure breakdown . The information is grouped by Vintage (appearing as row headers), Type, Schema and Geographic Unique Identifier (appearing as column headers).
Vintage Type Schema Geographic Unique Identifier
2001 to 2016 (most recent release) A – Administrative 0000 to 0499 Corresponds to the unique identifier (GEOUID) of each geographic area.
S – Statistical 0500 to 0999

Vintage is a four digit code (VVVV) indicating the reference year of the geospatial data. Vintage values range from 2001 to the most recent reference year of geospatial data. The reference year varies depending on the maintenance cycle of a given geographic area. The various reference year that could be found are defined in Table 2 below.

Table 2
Vintage geographic reference year definition
Table summary
This table displays the results of Vintage geographic reference year definition . The information is grouped by Name (appearing as row headers), Abbreviation, Cycle and Possible values (appearing as column headers).
Name Abbreviation Cycle Possible values
Census CENSUS Quinquennial 2001, 2006, 2011, 2016
Federal electoral districts redistribution FED Decennial 2003, 2013
Health region boundary release HRBR AnnualTable 2 Note 1 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2018

Type is a one character code (T) indicating the type of geographic areas composing the geographic coverage of the statistical data disseminated. Possible values are as follows (Table 3): 

Table 3
List and examples of geographic area types
Table summary
This table displays the results of List and examples of geographic area types . The information is grouped by Type (appearing as row headers), Name and Description (appearing as column headers).
Type Name Description
A Administrative Defined, with a few exceptions, by Canadian federal and provincial/territorial statutes or agencies, and adopted by Statistics Canada for the purpose of data dissemination activities. Examples include:
- Country
- Health Region
- Province / Territory
- Forward Sortation Area
- Federal Electoral District
- Ecoregion
S Statistical Defined by Statistics Canada to support census and survey dissemination activities. They are created according to a set of rules based on geographic attributes and one or more characteristics of the resident population. Examples include:
- Census Agricultural Region
- Population Centre
- Economic Region
- Dissemination Area
- Census Metropolitan Area
- Drainage Region

Schema is a four digit sequential number (SSSS) assigned to each unique “set” of geographic areas. See Table 4 below for the list of schema codes and their associated geographic areas.

Geographic Unique Identifier
Geographic Unique Identifier is a variable length alpha-numeric code (GGGGGGGGGGG) assigned to each individual geographic area. For more detail see the illustrated glossary on Geographic Code. Geographic Unique Identifiers range from 1 to 12 characters in length.

Table 4
List of current Geographies and the associated vintage, type, schema and GEOUID code
Table summary
This table displays the results of List of current Geographies and the associated vintage. The information is grouped by English Geography Name (appearing as row headers), Vintage reference year abbreviation (Table 2), Type, Schema, Geographic Unique Identifier (GEOUID) and Example (appearing as column headers).
English Geography Name Vintage reference year abbreviation (Table 2) Type Schema Geographic Unique Identifier (GEOUID) Example
Field name Length
Country CENSUS A 0000 “11124”Table 4 Note 1 Canada, 2011 2011A000011124
Geographical region of Canada CENSUS A 0001 PRUIDTable 4 Note 2 1 Prairies, 2016 2016A00014
Province or territory CENSUS A 0002 PRUID 2 Quebec, 2011 2011A000224
Census division CENSUS A 0003 CDUID 4 Toronto, 2011 2011A00033520
Federal electoral district FED A 0004 FEDUID 5 Orléans, 2013 2013A000435076
Census subdivision CENSUS A 0005 CSDUID 7 Toronto, City, 2011 2011A00053520005
Designated place CENSUS A 0006 DPLUID 6 Lanark, 2016 2016A0006350045
Health region HRBR A 0007 HR_UID 4 Edmonton Zone, 2013 2013A00074834
Local health integration network HRBR A 0008 HR_UID 4 South West, 2015 2015A00083502
Forward sortation area CENSUS A 0011 CFSAUID 3 K1J, 2011 2011A0011K1J
Economic region CENSUS S 0500 ERUID 4 Toronto, 2011 2011S05003530
Census agricultural region CENSUS S 0501 CARUID 4 Cariboo, 2011 2011S05015905
Census consolidated subdivision CENSUS S 0502 CCSUID 7 Rossburn, 2016 2016S05024616005
Census metropolitan area CENSUS S 0503 CMAUID 3 Toronto, 2011 2011S0503535
Census agglomeration CENSUS S 0504 CMAUID 3 Cobourg, 2016 2016S0504527
Census metropolitan area part CENSUS S 0505 CMAPUID 5 Ottawa - Gatineau (Ont. part), 2016 2016S050535505
Census agglomeration part CENSUS S 0506 CMAPUID 5 Campbellton (Que. part), 2016 2016S050624330
Census tract CENSUS S 0507 CTUID 10 0002.00 – Moncton, City / Cité, 2011 2011S05073050002.00
Population centre CENSUS S 0510 PCUID 4 Toronto, 2011 2011S05100944
Population centre part CENSUS S 0511 PCPUID 6 Lloydminster (Sask. part), 2016 2016S0511470478
Dissemination area CENSUS S 0512 DAUID 8 13070226, 2016 2016S051213070226
Dissemination block CENSUS S 0513 DBUID 11 13070226019, 2016 2016S051313070226019
Aggregate Dissemination Area CENSUSTable 4 Note 3 S 0516 ADAUID 8 24230047, 2016 2016S051624230047

Correspondence files

Correspondence files containing the DGUID values for all disseminated geographic boundaries are available upon request. If you require a copy of one or more DGUID correspondence files, please contact us.

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