Moving to Canada – Mail Subscriber Guide

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Vancouver SkylineThinking about moving to Canada after this election? All jokes aside, there are some things you should know about sending or receiving mail to our northerly neighbor. We have compiled some of the key things you should know before making the move.

Home Delivery Phase Out

On December 11, 2013, Canada Post announced a plan to phase out urban door-to-door delivery service. This was in part due to rising costs and falling mail volume, thanks to the digital age. The door-to-door delivery service would be succeeded by community mailboxes. This plan was scheduled to begin in the summer of 2014 and to be completed by 2019. To date over 1 million addresses have been moved to community lockboxes. This conversion is happening in every province.

The switch to community mailboxes was not without opposition. Complaints about accessibility to the new community mailboxes and littering around the units prompted a halt on the new roll-out by the new Liberal government in November 2015.

Address Formatting Guidelines

While there are many similarities in the format of Canadian addresses vs US addresses, there are some key differences which should be noted to ensure prompt delivery of parcels.

Format Example:

10-123 MAIN ST NW

Address Casing – Canada Post recommends that all address information should be printed in upper case, although lower case is acceptable.

Unit Number, Civic Number Format – Canada Post will accept one of the following formats for unit numbers. In this example 10 is the unit number, with 123 as the street number.

• 10-123 Main St
• 123 Main St Apt 10
• Apt 10
123 Main St

Street Direction – Street Direction should be the last element of a civic address line.

Postal Code Format – All Postal Codes should be in upper case format with a space separating the first three characters from the last three (e.g. M3C 0C2).

Shipping Rate Comparison

The current domestic postal rate for letters mailed within Canada and less than 30G in weight is $0.85. In comparison to US domestic postal rate of $0.47 for mail letters up to 1 oz. While the US offers a discounted rate for postcards at $0.34, Canada Post does not offer this discount. In comparison, Canada Post rates are between 20-57% higher than USPS for comparable domestic shipping. To combat the costly fees of shipping within Canada, some users will make a round trip through USPS service to deliver to a Canadian address and avoid Canada Post fees, although this is not always a viable solution.

Shipping Delays

While shipping delays are not uncommon to USPS and Canada Post users, some Canada Post users have complained of longer delays for parcels shipped domestically vs internationally. One such user complained of a parcel taking weeks to transit two provinces while another package was shipped internationally within several days. Some possible explanations for domestic shipping delays within Canada include understaffed couriers, mail processors and extreme weather.