Canada Post’s automated equipment can decipher a wide range of addressing styles, however consistent and accurate addressing eliminates the need for extra handling or redelivery by Canada Post. Standardized addressing helps ensure that mail is consistently delivered on time, the first time, every time. In addition, Canada Post’s commercial customers using machineable mail preparation options must follow Canada Post’s addressing guidelines to ensure their mailings achieve optimal read rates.
Visit the applicable “Designing” module at canadapost.ca/postalservices for information on address printing and mail item requirements.
To avoid unnecessary delays in delivery of your mail items, follow these addressing guidelines:
- The address should ideally be printed in upper case, however lower case fonts are also acceptable.
- The Postal CodeOM should be printed in upper case with the first three characters separated from the last three by one space. Do not use hyphens. If the Postal Code is not formatted in this manner, the mail may be delayed.
- The municipality, the province or territory, and the Postal Code should all appear on the same line, and it should be the last line within a domestic address block. There should be one space between the municipality and the province or territory, and two spaces between the province or territory and the Postal Code. If this line in the address block becomes too long, the Postal Code may be placed on the last line by itself.
Avoid using “Canada” in domestic addresses.
The last line within international addresses should only contain a Canada Post recognized country name in English or French.
- Characters in the address block should not be underlined.
- Punctuation should not be used unless it is part of a proper name, such as in “ST. JOHN’S”.
Accents are not considered to be punctuation and may be used.
- The # symbol or the French equivalent no should never be used as part of the address.
- All lines of an address should be formatted with a uniform left margin and should be less than 40 characters per line, excluding spaces; addressing lines cannot be truncated.
- Space between address lines should be at least 0.5 mm but no more than one blank line.
- Characters should be well-defined, between 2 and 5 mm in height and printed in the same font.
- The return address should be formatted in the same fashion as the destination address, however it cannot be printed in a larger font and must be clearly separated from the destination address. Acceptable locations include the top-left corner or on the back of the item along the top.
The following sections illustrate Canada Post’s recommended addressing guidelines. Please note that in all cases the number of lines within the address block may not exceed six.
Civic addresses (street addresses)
Civic addresses should contain the following information:
Civic address with additional delivery information
If mailers wish to include Additional Delivery Information, it should appear between the first line (the addressee) and the second-last line (the civic address):
Civic address in a rural area
Civic addresses are also commonly used in rural areas (with rural Postal Codes):
Postal Box addresses
Postal Box address
Postal box addresses should contain the following information:
Postal Box address with civic address and additional delivery information
If mailers wish to include Additional Delivery Information, it should appear under the first line (the addressee). If mailers wish to include the Civic Address, it should appear above the second-last line (postal box number and station information); see Figure 5.
Rural route addresses
Rural route address
Rural route addresses should contain the following information:
Rural route address with civic address
If mailers wish to include Additional Delivery Information, it should appear under the first line (the addressee). If there is a Civic Address for the rural area, it should appear above the second-last line (rural route identifier and station information); see Figure 7.
Rural route address with additional address information
Rural addresses that do not contain a civic address may require Additional Address Information. The additional address information should appear above the second-last line (rural route identifier and station information); see Figure 8.
General delivery addresses
General delivery addresses should contain the following information (see Figure 9):
Bilingual addresses must have a solid black vertical line, at least 0.7 mm thick, separating the two addresses. There must be a clear space approximately 10 mm wide on either side of the black line (see Figure 10).
Military mail is defined as mail sent to or by the Department of National Defence, Canadian Forces personnel, their dependants and civilians attached to Canadian Forces served through Canadian Forces Post Offices and Fleet Mail Offices. See Canadian Forces Postal Service for more information about addressing guidelines for military mail.
United States of America addresses
Addressing elements on mail items handled by the United States Postal Service should be prepared according to their Postal Addressing Standards.
The United States of America addresses should contain the following information:
- First line: The addressee
- Third-last line: Delivery address
- Second-last line: City name, state abbreviation and ZIP Code
- Last line: Country name
- All U.S.A. mail items must be addressed to a specific individual, organization or company name (the addressee).
- The delivery address should contain all its components, such as the primary address number, predirectional, street name, suffix, postdirectional, secondary address identifier, and secondary address. There should be one space between address elements.
- The full city name should be used and should appear as the first component in the second-last line of the address block.
- The two-letter state abbreviation is preferred over the full state name. The state abbreviation should appear on the second-last line of the address block following the city name, separated by one space. See Table 5: States, territories and possessions names and abbreviations U.S.A. for a complete list.
- The ZIP Code must be separated from the state abbreviation by two spaces. It may be either five or nine digits. If the nine-digit format is used, a hyphen should be used between the fifth and sixth digits.
- The country name must be the last entry on the address. It is placed alone on the last line of the address block, below the city name and the ZIP Code information.
International addresses should contain the following information (see Figure 12):
- First line: The addressee
- Third-last line: Delivery address
- Second-last line: Municipality name, state or province, and postal or ZIP Code
- Last line: Country name
- All international mail items must be addressed to a specific individual, organization or company name (the addressee).
- To ensure proper processing, the country name must be spelled correctly and in full. (e.g. UAE is not acceptable for UNITED ARAB EMIRATES). See International Destination Listing for a complete list of international destination names.
- The name of the country must be the last entry on the address. It is placed on the last line, below the municipality/city name and any Postal Code/ZIP Code information.
International destination names
See International Destination Listing for a complete list of international destination names.
Addressee – Individual or company name or non-personalized descriptor (e.g., OCCUPANT).
Additional address information – Often required for delivery to a rural address that does not have a civic address. In such cases, a SITE and COMP (compartment) is assigned. This should be placed above the rural route identifier and station information.
If a civic address is available, it may be added above the SITE and COMP information.
The word “BOX” should not be used in place of “COMPARTMENT”.
Additional delivery information – Optional data that a mailer wishes to include, i.e. Attention line, title, floor, etc. It is always placed above the civic address.
Civic address – Delivery information comprised of the following elements:
- Unit number should be placed in one of the following locations:
If a unit number is assigned, it is an integral part of the address and must be included.
- Civic number should be placed before the street name
- Civic number suffix (if present) should be placed after the civic number as follows:
- Street name is the official name recognized by each municipality and should not be translated (e.g., Main cannot be translated to Principale)
If the street name is numeric, it should be printed as follows:
When the street name is numeric, there is only one space and no hyphen between the civic number and the street name.
Street type should be placed after the street name in abbreviated format (see Table 1: Street types for a complete list of common abbreviations.)
In some instances, the street type is also the street name (e.g. THE PARKWAY).
The only street types that may be translated are:
A French street type should be printed as follows:
- Street direction should be the last element in the civic address line and should be in abbreviated format (see Table 2: Street directions for a complete list of common abbreviations.)
General delivery indicator – Should be the two-letter abbreviation “GD.” Punctuation should not be used.
Municipality name – The official name of the municipality.
Abbreviations and valid alternates can be used, but cannot be translated, for example:
Province or territory – should be printed in the official two-letter postal abbreviation (see Table 4: Canadian provinces and territories names and abbreviations for a complete list of abbreviations). It may also be written in full:
The province or territory must appear after the municipality name, on the same line. There should be one space between the municipality name and the province or territory.
Postal Box number – Should always be placed on the line just above the municipality, province and Postal Code. The # symbol or the French equivalent no should not be used. Punctuation should not be used either.
Postal Code – Should be printed in uppercase and placed two spaces to the right of the Province or Territory, with one space between the first three and the last three characters. A hyphen should not be used (ex. of unacceptable format: T0L-1K0).
The Postal Code may be placed on the last line by itself if there is insufficient space to accommodate the municipality, province and Postal Code all on one line (the province name, however, must remain on the same line as the Municipality Name).
Rural route identifier – Should use the two-letter symbol RR followed by the route number placed one space to the right. The # symbol or the French equivalent no should not be used. Punctuation should not be used either.
Station information – Should be present to direct mail to the proper postal installation. This is especially important in larger areas where there is more than one installation within the same municipality. Station information should appear in abbreviated format, after the postal box number, rural route identifier, or general delivery identifier and after on the same line.
Symbols and Abbreviations Recognized by Canada Post
This list is not exhaustive.
The following are the most technologically efficient unit designators. In some cases, because of individual preference or other considerations, a mailer may use other unit designators.
Canadian provinces and territories
Canadian provinces and territories names and abbreviations
States, territories and possessions - U.S.A.
States, territories and possessions names and abbreviations U.S.A.
The Postal Code is an integral part of every postal address in Canada. The Postal Code was designed to aid in sorting mail by both mechanized and manual methods. It also enables the customer to presort mail, thereby bypassing a number of sorting processes within Canada Post and reducing costs.
The structure of the Postal Code
The Postal Code is a six-character uniformly structured, alphanumeric code in the form “ANA NAN” where “A” represents an alphabetic character and “N” represents a numeric character. A Postal Code is made up of two segments: “forward sortation area” and “local delivery unit.”
The forward sortation area is a combination of three characters (alpha-numeric-alpha). It identifies a major geographic area in an urban or a rural location.
The local delivery unit is a combination of three characters (numeric-alpha-numeric). It identifies the smallest delivery unit within a forward sortation area.
Postal Code structure
Forward Sortation Area – The first segment of the Postal Code
The “forward sortation area” or “FSA” represents a specific area within a major geographic region or province. The forward sortation area provides the basis for the primary sorting of forward mail.
The first character of the forward sortation area segment identifies one of the 18 major geographic areas, provinces or districts (as shown in Figure 14).
First segment of the Postal Code
The second character of the forward sortation area is an important component of mail preparation as it identifies either:
- an urban Postal Code: numerals 1 to 9 (ex. M2T)
- a rural Postal Code: numeral 0 (zero) (ex. A0A).
The third character of the forward sortation area segment (E2J) in conjunction with the first two characters, describes an exact area of a city or town or other geographic area.
Local Delivery Unit – The second segment of the Postal Code
The “local delivery unit” or “LDU”, identified by the last three characters of the Postal Code, allows for a more final sort within a forward sortation area.
In urban areas, the last three digits may indicate a specific city block (one side of a street between two intersecting streets), a single building or, in some cases, a large-volume mail receiver.
In rural areas, the last three digits, together with the forward sortation area, identify a specific rural community.
Postal Code address data
Canada Post’s Postal Code address data is used to determine or verify the correct Postal Code for an address anywhere in Canada or identify the complete range of addresses that correspond to any one Postal Code.
Delivery mode data and various types of Householder counts are also available. Visit canadapost.ca/lists for additional information on Postal Code data and mailing lists
Canadian Postal Code searching tools
Visit canadapost.ca/postalcode to use Canada Post’s free Postal Code look-up tool.
Postal Codes can also be obtained by calling 1-900-565-2633 for service in English or 1-900-565-2634 for service in French.