Talk:Postal codes in Canada

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Good article Postal codes in Canada has been listed as one of the Geography and places good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
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June 10, 2005 Peer review Reviewed
January 11, 2007 Good article nominee Listed
December 1, 2008 Good article reassessment Kept
Current status: Good article
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Please condense the many letters which don't begin any, or begin very few, postal codes; there should only be about 10 different links from this page to subsidiary pages. Ex: A, B-D, E-G, ... +sj+ 22:38, 2004 Mar 20 (UTC)

I have actually undertaken to convert all Canadian postal code pages into tabular form. Denelson83 09:25, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

List of postal codes in CanadaCanadian postal code[edit]

I have edited this article quite a bit to make it more than just a list. It describes how Canadian postal codes work in much detail now, so I do not believe it should be a "List of..." article anymore. Denelson83 19:10, 30 Jan 2005 (UTC)

SUPPORT: I support moving the content of the current article to Canadian postal code (Is there a formal name for the system like how we have ZIP Code in the USA??? If so, move content there. If not, Canadian postal code it is.) but given that there are several "list of __(insert country or state here)__ postal codes" articles it is a must that someone restore the the List of postal codes in Canada to actually being a list of Canadian postal codes. —ExplorerCDT 05:01, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)

It really is not necessary to have such an article, as the list is already split into separate lists by the first letter of the postal code. Having them all in one article would make it way too big. And besides, there are already links to those individual lists in this article, below the postal district map. The point here is that there is enough information in this article that the "List of"-type title is no longer necessary.
And yes, we Canadians just call it a "postal code," simply sticking the word "Canadian" in front of it to disambiguate. Denelson83 05:16, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)
  • Comment: Normally, I would say that effort is sufficient, but the List of postal codes in Canada article is linked from other sites, so, it might be necessary to copy a list linking to the lists by letter? (that sounds redundant, I know). I think this is necessary only because of the linking. As to the name "Postal code" I wasn't too familiar with that part of Canadiana, as most of the websites group the Canadian postal code in with the American ZIP code and mistakenly (or inadvertantly) make people think the Canadians use a system called ZIP too. —ExplorerCDT 03:52, 2 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Right now there's a list of links under the map image. An actual directory of code numbers isn't as encyclopedic as the article itself. So I would suggest moving the article to preserve its edit history. Then, the new redirect page at List of postal codes in Canada can be changed into a brief directory page to capture those incoming links, and points to the main article as well as having the map and list of links. Michael Z. 2005-02-2 20:46 Z
What exactly do you mean by "sites"? As in just other pages within Wikipedia, or from external websites? Denelson83 19:10, 3 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Support Michael Z. 2005-01-31 15:41 Z

  • Support - more concise than old; but either Canadian postal codes or Canadian post codes would be better.--Daeron 07:09, 3 Feb 2005 (UTC)
    • We call them "postal codes" in Canada, never "post codes", which are used in the U.K. And I think the convention on article titles is to use the singular, so it should be "Canadian postal code". Denelson83 19:01, 3 Feb 2005 (UTC)

H0H 0H0[edit]

Santa Claus Editorial comment: Canada Post's online reverse postal code lookup doesn't return a result for H0H 0H0. (Postal code data effective 2006/02/20) —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Robocoder (talkcontribs) 02:08, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

That's because it's a 'reserved' code, not allocated to any location. Besides, letters addressed to Santa Claus are answered by the first Canada Post employee they reach, and they don't touch the automated sorting equipment at all. Denelson83 21:28, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
I'd be interested to see further reading as to the popularity or obscurity of the Canadian address for Santa Claus outside of Canada. BigNate37T·C 02:32, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
I'm not sure if this link answers your question, but it does indeed state that mail does come in to the H0H 0H0 postal code from outside of Canada. [1] -- Denelson83 03:28, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
Well, it was something. I'm curious whether most, say, Americans, Brits, Slavs and so forth have even heard of it, and whether they acknoledge that Santa lives in Canada or not. At any rate, the link was a good read for a bit more information. Thanks. BigNate37T·C 03:43, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
I'd hesitate to say that H0H letters are assigned to "the first Canada Post employee they reach", but they are processed in multiple locations across Canada as Saint Nick does get an enormous quantity of seasonal mail. Perhaps the anycast concept would be the closest analogy as H0H seasonal mail goes to multiple disparite handling facilities?
There may be other addresses in the US which have seasonal uses (although not "seasonal/reserved" per se), such as North Pole, Alaska or North Pole, New York; at one point, apparently it was not uncommon to ship a box of outbound Christmas cards to the North Pole postmaster and ask that they be sent onward with that locality's postmark? Nonetheless, much like Wonder Woman is obviously American, Santa must be a Canadian eh?... why else would he dress in the colours of the Canadian flag? :) --carlb 21:55, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Do you remember the 1930 Coca-Cola's commercials with Santa Claus? Red and white are too the colours of Coca-Cola. IJKL (talk) 09:54, 10 December 2010 (UTC)


A search for H0A finds four pages of results to indicate that there were a few of these codes (H0A 1E0, H0A 1G0) assigned to Laval, Quebec at one point. A reverse-lookup on these at fails despite HOA, HOM both being listed in Canada Post's current list of FSA's; does this mean the H0A codes existed but have since been retired?

As for H0H? As it's reserved for seasonal use, it's not on that list. --carlb 21:44, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

Good Article Review[edit]

From What is a good article?:

  • Well-written - pass
    1. Compelling prose, readily comprehensible to non-specialist members - one or two bits which seem a little technical, but is comprehensible (See 4th point below)
    2. Logical structure - Yes. I reordered the History section a little to address existing issues. The rest of the article is excellent in this regard.
    3. Follows Wikipedia MoS - Yes. Uses Canadian English for Canadian article.
    4. Necessary technical terms/jargon briefly explained or active link provided - Yes. If going for FA I'd definitely look carefully at the "Forward sortation areas" section, it needs work to make it more clear. However, it meets the lower bar set for GA.
  • Factually accurate and verifiable - on hold
    1. Provides references to any and all sources used for material - see below
    2. Citation of its sources using an acceptable form of inline citation - On hold (see outstanding issues)
    3. Sources should be selected in accordance with the guidelines for reliable sources - Yes.
    4. It contains no elements of original research - Issue regarding Toronto ad and NDP MP - can't find on Google or in listed sources. Otherwise, seems to satisfy WP:OR.
  • Broad in coverage - yes
  • NPOV - yes (it handles criticism fairly)
  • Stable - yes
  • Contains images - yes contains free use image uploaded by author, which is a good illustration.

Outstanding issues as of 4 January 2007:

  • Citation of sources - please use cite web, cite news or cite book templates using <ref></ref> tags at the relevant point in the article, as has been done with the Santa Claus section. (update 9 Jan 2007 - only two to go!)
  • Original research issues - Can't find Toronto ad and NDP MP. Please find a reliable source documenting this event. Fixed.
  • Technical terms/jargon - if looking to move to FA-status later on, "Forward sortation areas" section will need looking at in this regard. Recent edits appear to have addressed this point. Good work, guys!

Once these issues (first two) are addressed I'll be happy to pass it - it's a thorough and well-researched article covering the broad range of the subject. Orderinchaos78 05:21, 4 January 2007 (UTC)

But I think you should also consider the fact that the 3-digit code History section is backwards. It makes a big deal of the Toronto rollout in 1969, but then goes on to say that other cities implemented it by 1968. Not only is this backwards, but it is also suspect, because if the program was motivated by Toronto, it is surprising that it would not be implemented first in Toronto. I can understand implementing it in smaller cities first, but at the time Montreal was at least as large as Toronto, so why would a Toronto system be put in place in Montreal before Toronto? Or, maybe the article is wrong in implying that the change was motivated by issues in Toronto. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:42, 31 May 2010 (UTC)

GA Passed[edit]

All issues fixed - congratulations. Best of luck with getting this article to the next stage! Orderinchaos78 13:18, 11 January 2007 (UTC)

Edits to references[edit]

Today's edit was quite extensive and a little messy if you look at the diffs, but hasn't substantially changed the content. I added a few words here and there, but mostly I added a couple of references and standardized the existing ones in the various cite template formats. I have added changed all the references to multi-line format. I hope that hasn't offended anyone, but I find that they are much more maintainable that way. It makes it easier to find them or to read around them in the source code. Also, it makes the lines shorter, so any diffs are more readable from here on.

I have more to add to the history (including refs for some of those cloaked statements), which I will do when I get more time. Canadiana 02:58, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

What is the rangespace of postal codes?[edit]

Under "How many postal codes are possible?" the article states what letters aren't used. However an article about a coding system should say somewhere what the theoretical and actual (in use) ranges are. What are the lowest (eg. A0A 0A0??) and highest values possible and in use? I find it interesting that A1A 1A1 appears on so many forms and templates as a fictional address, yet it is not a fictional postal code and refers to a real location according to reverse-lookup. I'd say that merits mention in this article, although it was deleted. Canuckle 21:05, 6 May 2007 (UTC)

A1A 1A1 is no different than any other postal code. If you create an article on one postal code, then all other postal codes would have to have articles, and that does not make any sense. -- Denelson83 00:18, 7 May 2007 (UTC)
Hi thanks for posting a reply. Sorry for the delay as I hadn't flagged this page for watching. You didn't respond to my question. I didn't ask for an article dedicated to one postal code. I did that, had second thoughts, and felt it might more appropriately merit a mention on this article. I didn't even appeal when I noticed that the standalone article got deleted without my noticing. You argue that it is "no different" than any other. I think it is different. It is the postal code regularly used to demonstrate postal codes. For example, this article's fourth sentence and a graphic use K1A 0B1 as an example. It is arguably more common to see A1A 1A1 in this instance. Why can this article not withstand a single mention of something people see everyday, and which was reliably sourced? Also, as I asked above, could the article withstand mention of what the range of codes currently in use are? I checked the list of postal codes (very nice by the way) and if I read it correctly it is: A0A to Y0B. Looking forward to your feedback. It's a good article, I'm just trying to make a tiny addition. Cheers. Canuckle 21:35, 25 May 2007 (UTC)
The thing is, there is no hard and fast "range" of postal codes. What you are referring to is the start and end of the portion of the postal code "space" that is currently in use. The postal code space starts at A0A and ends at Y9Z. I use K1A 0B1 because it is more heavily-used than A1A 1A1, and it doesn't suggest the idea of infringing on the privacy of a random person (WP:BEANS). Just because lots of other people use A1A 1A1 as a postal code example doesn't mean Wikipedia should. -- Denelson83 22:38, 25 May 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for adding the sentence about the "space" currently used. It helps laymen like myself. Thanks for pointing out (WP:BEANS). It's a well-written essay that I'll keep in mind. I'm not clear on how it might apply in this example. Software writers could use the information that A1A 1A1 is an actual postal code to avoid user errors (for instance, failure to replace the template postal code with your actual code could result in your Amazon purchase going to the wrong place I guess). I'm unclear on how or why a reader could use that information to harm oneself or others. Privacy can be an important concern. However, postal codes are public information that is easily available and relate to a general area. Saying that A1A 1A1 represents an area in Newfoundland is not like publishing a random phone number as in the 867-5309/Jenny debacle. How would a resident of that area's privacy be affected by this information?. The federal gov't has stricter privacy regulations that Wikipedia, and yet Parliament uses A1A 1A1 in its look-up tool to find your MP (see here). Please note that I never said "replace" the Ottawa example. I said that notable organizations like the government and use A1A 1A1 in a way relevant to this article. That real-world use should appropriately be noted in this article, in my opinion. Do you mind if I write up a sentence and try it in the article? Canuckle 06:31, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
You can go ahead and say in a sentence or two about how A1A 1A1 is used as an example template for a postal code, but that fact doesn't need its own article. Also, if you want to want to give your own example of a postal code, I suggest using one that starts with A9W, as codes that start with those three characters are for testing purposes only, along with A9X and A9Z. As for A1A 1A1 being used as a more widespread example, I imagine people in that postal code get slightly more than the average amount of junk mail in their boxes. -- Denelson83 06:48, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Franked mail[edit]

  • Is this the right article in which to mention the free delivery to/from MPs and others, see here? Canuckle 03:50, 10 July 2007 (UTC)
Probably better to put this in the Canada Post article. -- Denelson83 03:52, 10 July 2007 (UTC)
Thanks. I did look there but a good home wasn't immediately apparent. Canuckle 16:50, 10 July 2007 (UTC)

Second digit?[edit]

The article says, "As the H0- prefix would normally signify 'a tiny village in Montreal'..."

Why? I understand that H corresponds to Montreal, but I don't see anything in the article about 0 meaning "tiny village" ... or any other information about how to interpret the second characters. --Mike Schiraldi (talk) 06:55, 11 October 2008 (UTC)

The second character being a zero means a rural area or unincorporated community. -- Denelson83 07:06, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
If you have a source for the zero statement then we can add that information. Cheers ww2censor (talk) 15:54, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
Right here. -- Denelson83 05:29, 12 October 2008 (UTC)


The clickable map at the top of the page does not link to postal codes beginning with N, M, K, L, H, and J, thus is pretty useless. If anyone knows how to work the map thing, is it possible to add those areas? If not, the colourful map below (in Canadian postal code#Components of a postal code) is 100% complete and in my opinion should replace the clickable map. In any case, both maps explain the exact same thing (one far better than the other) thus are redundant and we should get rid of one anyway. Thoughts? -M.Nelson (talk) 00:29, 27 January 2009 (UTC)

Done. -- Denelson83 02:10, 14 February 2009 (UTC)

Some points about geocoding[edit]

I've recently started a programming project that involves postal codes, and here are some facts I've discovered (to my frustration):

- There is no consistent or direct relationship between Canadian postal codes and latitude/longitude (that is, there is no nice mathematical function f such that f(V8W3A4) = 48.424779,-123.368836 ).

- Postal codes boundaries are not even stored in Canada Post's computers as geographical coordinates -- they are defined solely on mail delivery routes and are officially bounded by things like power lines, rivers, streets, and other landmarks. (See -- there used to be a nice Canada-wide map there, but I can't find it now.)

- There is no official list of postal codes with geographical coordinates available from Canada Post, for purchase or otherwise.

- The list of postal codes is always changing. As Canada Post says here: , "there are new postal codes added every month." This precludes ever being able to write a function like the one in my first point, and requires yearly or monthly updates to your data set. Boundaries of existing postal codes are also subject to change as larger areas are subdivided by population growth.

- Statistics Canada collects latitude/longitude coordinates as part of the census (the Postal Code Conversion File), but access to their data is expensive -- $9,000.00 , and it comes with a restrictive licence: . Basically, to do anything widely available or open source with the data you need special permission. This makes the data effectively off limits to anyone except Google and similarly large operations. (So no homebrew geocoding websites...)

- If you have access to a Canadian university library you can get free access to the Statscan PCCF, but again you can't use it for anything that you're going to share with others.

- The Statistics Canada data is often inaccurate. After I did get access to the data, I found that of a small random sample of coordinates (including addresses I've lived at), there were errors significant enough to put the coordinates well into a different postal code (or in the case of the maritime provinces, into the ocean).

- The Statistics Canada data is incomplete: the code for the house I grew up in is completely missing from parts of the data set, despite being in a relatively large and well-developed town. The one file that does include it puts it a startling 60 km from its correct location.

- Google's Maps API offers access to a better set of data, and their licence is considerably better than Statistics Canada's (you are allowed to use it for fun and profit, the only condition being that you have to plot your results on a Google map). Whether you can maintain a large cache of data for doing your own calculations on, though, is somewhat questionable. Also, if you do amasse such a cache of data, you are never allowed to transfer it or expose it to anyone directly.

Niteling (talk) 21:06, 13 February 2009 (UTC)

Exhaust of Forward Sortation Area[edit]

Has Canada Post ever exhausted the supply of postal codes within a Forward Sortation Area? That is, everything from 1A1 to 9Z9 has been put into use?

And if so, or if it does happen, what remedy would Canada Post use, a split or an overlay? My sense is that they would choose an overlay, since it would not disrupt the existing addresses' postal codes. That is, Whitehorse, Yukon, is approaching exhaust of the Y1A code, and when it is exhausted, will they split it (changing some codes from Y1A to Y1B or something else) or, as seems more likely to me given public acceptance of telephone area code overlays, overlay Y1A with a second FSA that shares the same office? I know that the US Postal Service has, at least in the past, done ZIP code splits, but that involves the last three digits, not the first two as would be the case for Canada Post. GBC (talk) 01:00, 9 February 2012 (UTC)

Don't forget that 0A1 through 0Z9 can be used. -- Denelson83 02:49, 9 February 2012 (UTC)

Postal barcodes[edit]

Moved this section from the article as it has been labelled with refimprove since Jan 2009. The one reference seems to be just for postbar. AIRcorn (talk) 11:30, 13 May 2012 (UTC)

When a piece of mail reaches its first major Canada Post sortation facility, a multiline optical character reader (MLOCR) system looks at its destination address, translates its postal code into a barcode, and prints that barcode on the faced envelope. For regular-size mail, a UV-fluorescent CPC binary barcode is applied to the lower-right corner of the envelope; for larger envelopes, a special four-state barcode known as PostBar[1] is applied, which encodes additional relevant information along with the postal code. The four-state barcode is put on a sticker, which is then applied to the envelope either on its lower-right corner, or just above the destination address. The complexity of the symbologies used does not make manual pre-printing of the barcodes practical, especially since the special ink used in the fluorescent barcode is not normally available to the public. However, businesses that want to reduce costs by pre-printing their own barcodes can enter into a licensing agreement with Canada Post, which includes either existing computer software for printing barcodes or the symbology specifications for businesses that wish to develop their own software. Pieces of mail that are hand-sorted instead of machine-sorted are not barcoded. This is sometimes the case when sender and recipient are in rural areas and geographically close. The majority of handsorted mail is either inflexible or too large to fit in the MLOCR.


Position of postal code in addresses[edit]

When the Canadian postal code was first introduced, the code was specified as the last element in an address, i.e., even after CANADA.

Subsequently the code was moved to the position between the name of the province and CANADA. Perhaps the date for this change might be researched and included. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Torontonian1 (talkcontribs) 13:51, 15 October 2012 (UTC)

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