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The country of Canada consists of ten provinces and three territories. There are over 16 million known deliverable addresses in Canada. This article contains some of the standard formats used for various types of Canadian addresses.

Postal services

Mail in Canada is handled by Canada Post (French: Postes Canada), formally known as the Royal Mail Canada, and was founded in 1867.

International country code

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) published the ISO 3166 standard, officially known as Codes for the representation of names of countries and their subdivisions.

The ISO 3166 standard consists of three parts:

Part ISO Description
1 ISO 3166-1 Country Codes – defines codes for the names of countries, dependent territories, and special areas of geographical interest.
2 ISO 3166-2 Country subdivision code – defines codes for the names of primary subdivisions of a country, such as a state or a province.
3 ISO 3166-3 Code for formerly used names of countries – defines codes for country names that have been removed from ISO 3166-1.

ISO 3166-1, which defines country codes, contains three sets of country codes:

ISO Country Codes Description
ISO 3166-1 alpha-2: Defines a country as a two-letter country code, commonly referred to as the ISO, ISO2, or ISO-2.
ISO 3166-1 alpha-3: Defines a country as a three-letter country code, commonly referred to as ISO3, or ISO-3.
ISO 3166-1 numeric Defines a country as a three-digit country code.

ISO 3166-1 Country codes – Canada

Country Code Type Country Code
ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 code CA
ISO 3166-1 alpha-3 code Can
ISO 3166-1 numeric code 124

ISO 3166-2 Codes

The ISO currently lists codes for Canada’s ten provinces and three of its territories.

ISO 3166-2 code Subdivision Name French Subdivision Name Subdivision Category
CA-AB  Alberta Alberta Province
CA-BC  British Columbia Colombie-Britannique Province
CA-MB  Manitoba Manitoba Province
CA-NB  New Brunswick Nouveau-Brunswick Province
CA-NL  Newfoundland and Labrador Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador Province
CA-NS  Nova Scotia Nouvelle-Écosse Province
CA-ON  Ontario Ontario Province
CA-PE  Prince Edward Island Île-du-Prince-Édouard Province
CA-QC  Quebec Québec Province
CA-SK  Saskatchewan Saskatchewan Province
CA-NT  Northwest Territories Territoires du Nord-Ouest Territory
CA-NU  Nunavut Nunavut Territory
CA-YT  Yukon Yukon Territory

Address format

The address format for deliverable mail in Canada is defined by Canada Post. The address format will vary depending on the type of the address. Below are a few hypothetical examples similar to those from the CA Post addressing guidelines page.

According to CA Post, a civic address is delivery information that is made up of various address elements such as a unit number, a street name, a directional, a municipality, a province or territory, and so on. For a complete list of civic address elements please visit the Canada Post’s civic address page.

There are many address elements that make up a civic address, but the recipient is not one of them. The recipient is an important part of a standardized address, and it will always be the first line of an address, but it is not a part of the civic address. The first line of the civic address will start on either line two or three of the address, depending on if additional delivery instructions are included or not. Note that while additional delivery information may be important to the final delivery of a letter or package, it too is not a part of the civic address.

Civic address with additional delivery information

1: Recipient
2: Additional delivery instructions and/or directions
3: The civic address. Includes the premise information, such as unit and building number, and thoroughfare
4: The last line. Except for military addresses, will always be the locality, such as a municipality, administrative area such as a province or territory, and postal code

Example:

John Smith
Billing Department
12-123 Main St
Vancouver, BC V5V 3R5

Rural Route Address

1: Recipient
2: First line of the rural route address. Includes the rural route and station information
3: The last line. The locality, such as a municipality, administrative area such as a province or territory, and postal code

Example

John Smith
RR 1 STN Main
Vancouver, BC V5V 3R5

Rural Route address with Civic Address

A rural route with a civic address will appear directly below the civic address.

1: Recipient
2: The civic address
3: The rural route address
4: The last line. The locality, such as a municipality, administrative area such as a province or territory, and postal code

Example

John Smith
12-123 Main St
RR 1 STN Main
Vancouver, BC V5V 3R5

Rural Route address with additional address information

Some rural route addresses may require additional information. This information should appear above the rural route address line.

1: Recipient
2: Additional address information, such as a site and compartment
3: The rural route address
4: The last line. The locality, such as a municipality, administrative area, such as a province or territory, and postal code

Example

John Smith
Site 1 Comp B
RR 1 STN Main
Vancouver, BC V5V 3R5

Rural Route address with additional address information and civic address

Some rural route addresses may require additional information and include a civic address. In this case, the civic address may be added above the additional information of the rural route address.

1: Recipient
2. The civic address
3: Additional address information, such as a site and compartment
4: The rural route address
5: The last line. The locality, such as a municipality, administrative area, such as a province or territory, and postal code

Example

John Smith
12-123 Main St
Site 1 Comp B
RR 1 STN Main
Vancouver, BC V5V 3R5

Postal Box address with civic address and additional delivery information

1: Recipient
2: Additional delivery instructions and/or directions
3: The civic address. Includes the premise information, such as unit and building number, and thoroughfare
4. The PO Box and station information
5: The last line. Except for military addresses, will always be the locality, such as a municipality, administrative area such as a province or territory, and postal code

Example:

John Smith
Billing Department
12-123 Main St
PO Box 1234 STN A
Vancouver, BC V5V 3R5

Postal code format

CA postal codes consist of six alpha-numeric characters. The postal code consists of two parts. The first part is the Forward Sortation Area (FSA) and the second part is the Local Delivery Unit (LDU).

Alpha-numeric code format

ANA NAN
FSA LDU

A – represents an alphabetic character
N – represents a numeric character

Example

V5V 3R5
FSA LDU

Forward Sortation Area (FSA)

The first character of the FSA identifies a major geographic area for the address.

First character Geographic area
A Newfoundland and Labrador
B Nova Scotia
C Prince Edward Island
E New Brunswick
G Eastern Quebec
H Metropolitan Montreal
J Western Quebec
K Eastern Ontario
L Central Ontario
M Metropolitan Toronto
N Southwestern Ontario
P Northern Ontario
R Manitoba
S Saskatchewan
T Alberta
V British Columbia
X Northwest Territories/Nunavut
Y Yukon

The second character of the FSA indicates if the postal code is for an urban area or a rural area.

Urban postal code: Values 1-9

Example

FSA = B2B

Rural postal code: Value is 0 (zero)

Example

FSA = A0A

The third character of the FSA represents a location area type, such as a city area, metropolitan area or rural area.

Local Delivery Unit (LDU)

The last three characters of the postal code are the Local Delivery Unit (LDU). The LDU describes final delivery in more detail.

For example, the LDU can describe if the postal code is for a:

  • single building
  • side of a street on a block
  • portion of a locality
  • locality
  • Large-volume mail receiver

More rules

The Canada Post website offers many more guidelines and recommendations to follow in addition to what is listed above. There is a glossary of address fragments that make up the civic address, a list of acceptable street type abbreviations, guidelines for formatting French spelled addresses, and more.

Following common convention can help ease the trouble of dealing with the details of address standardization, but what do you do when you have an address that breaks common convention? As with most countries, Service Objects’ DOTS Address Validation International is capable of processing and validating deliverable addresses in Canada. The Address Validation service makes use of authoritative data from Canada Post to help ensure that the addresses you process are properly standardized and, more importantly, deliverable.

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