Canada Postal Codes

About Canada Postal Codes

The Canadian postal code system is different then the US ZIP Code system. A Canadian postal code is a six-character alphanumeric string that forms part of a postal address in Canada. The format is A1A 1A1, where A is a letter and 1 is a digit, with a space separating the third and fourth characters. The first three characters of the postal code represent a forward sortation area (FSA). A forward sortation area is a geographical region in which all postal codes start with the same three characters. The first letter of an FSA code represents a postal district, which outside of Quebec and Ontario, corresponds to an entire province or territory. Quebec is divided into 3 district while Ontario contains five postal districts. The digit determines if the FSA is urban or rural. A zero indicates a wide-area rural region or sometimes a special-purpose code. All other digits indicate urban areas. The second letter represents a specific rural region, an entire medium-sized city, or a section of a major metropolitan area. In the extreme case, some FSAs in downtown Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver are assigned to individual buildings. Rural FSAs also vary widely in population, with the Northwest Territories X0G covering only the hamlet of Fort Liard, but adjacent X0E covering every other community in the territory except Yellowknife. There are currently about 848250 postal codes in Canada, much more than the 41000+ in the United States.