Canada Postal Codes & Zip Codes List
Postcodes in Canada
A postal code is a six-character string in a Canadian address. Like the UK, Ireland, and the Netherlands, Canada's postal codes are alphanumeric. A0A in Newfoundland to Y1A in the Yukon used Forward Sortation Areas as of October 2019.
There is a free postal code lookup tool on the Canada Post website and mobile app. Many vendors also sell address and postal code validation tools. Hard copies are also available at post offices and some libraries. In Canada, the postal code follows the province or territory abbreviation.
Toronto introduced numbered postal zones in 1925. Toronto was divided into 14 zones from 1 to 15 in 1943, with 7 and 11 remaining vacant, and a 2B zone.
Postal zones were introduced in 1944. Quebec, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Vancouver, as well as Toronto and Montreal, had postal zones by the early 1960s.
From late 1960s, major cities like Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver began using a three-digit zone numbering system.
It began on May 1, 1969, with a public awareness campaign called "Your number is up." Because a new three-digit city zone system is being implemented, Postmaster General Eric Kierans announced that the Post Office would stop using the old system. But the new zoning was temporary, so businesses had to change their mail addresses.
Larger cities' populations increased during the 1950s and 1960s, as did the volume of mail sent through the country's postal system, reaching billions in the 1950s and tens of billions in the mid-1960s. As a result, mail sorting employees struggled to memorize and track all letter carrier routes within each city. New mail delivery technology increased the pressure on these employees to sort the mail properly.
In a 1969 Commons report, the impact of "environmental change" on Post Office operations was forecasted for 25 years. "Establish a task force to determine the extent to which the Post Office should automate and mechanize, including the design of a postal code," the report said.
The three-digit zone system was phased out in December 1969 in favor of a six-character postal code. In February 1970, he presented a report by Samson, Belair, Simpson, Riddell Inc. titled "A Canadian Public Address Postal Coding System."
On April 1, 1971, Ottawa tested the postal code. Ottawa's coding was followed by a provincial rollout in Manitoba, and then a nationwide rollout between 1972 and 1974, although only 38.2% of Canadians used the code by the end of 1974.
With sorting machines capable of handling 26,640 objects per hour, Canada Post was able to easily speed up and simplify mail flow across the country. The Canadian Union of Postal Workers opposed automated sorting because operators earned less than those who manually sorted mail. The unions eventually staged job actions and public information campaigns opposing postal codes. The union called for a 40-hour workweek to be reduced to 30 hours on March 20, 1975. The boycott ended in February 1976.
There may be many postal codes. An English postal code is made up of twenty uppercase letters that do not include the numbers 0 through 9. The first position also lacks the letters W and Z. This leaves 181020 = 3,600 FSAs available. With 102010 = 2,000 LDUs per FSA, the theoretical maximum is 7.2 million. However, Canada Post reserves some FSAs for testing or promotional purposes (see the H0H 0H0 for Santa Claus, below), as well as sorting mail bound for international destinations. Statistics Canada estimates that over 830,000 active postal codes represent approximately 13% of total postal code "space," leaving ample room for expansion.
Canada Post calls the process of replacing rural postal codes (starting with a zero) with urban postal codes "urbanization." The vacant rural postal code can be reassigned or retired. Canada Post determines when a community is urbanized based on population, though other factors may be considered.
This was done to eliminate ambiguity and confusion caused by similar street names. New Brunswick (postal district E) is unique in that rural codes are being phased out.
Postal codes can be used in conjunction with census or health registry data to create a population profile. To compare children's cancer risk and describe a neighbourhood's pervasive poverty (Vancouver's Downtown Eastside has the poorest postal code in Canada), postcodes are used.
Electoral districts in Canada often correspond to postal code areas, allowing citizens to identify their local elected representative. Websites of provincial and federal governments offer postal code lookup. A1A 1A1 is a genuine postal code used in St. John's Harbour, Newfoundland. Another common "example" code is K1A 0B1, which is the valid code for Canada Post's Ottawa headquarters.