Addressing an envelope that contains a letter or card bound for Canada is similar to doing so on a domestic piece of mail, with a few exceptions. Although Canadian addresses share traits with U.S. addresses, they use postal codes instead of zip codes and require you to list the country name below the mailing address.
Top Two Lines Similar to U.S. Mail
List the recipient's name on the first line of the middle of the envelope as you would with an envelope sent within the U.S. Use a prefix suitable for the recipient such as "Mr.," "Mrs." or "Ms." followed by the person's given name and surname. Add the recipient's street address and street name on the next line. Use capital letters for the entire address.
Use the third line of the envelope for the recipient's city, province and postal code. After you list the city and a space, include the appropriate abbreviation for the province. For example, list "ON" for Ontario. Leave a space after the province and then list the recipient's postal code. Unlike zip codes, Canadian postal codes are six alphanumeric digits with a space in the middle. Use capital letters throughout. For example, the third line of your envelope could read: OTTAWA ON K2C 4E6.
Identify the Country of Destination
Identify the country of destination by writing Write "Canada" in capital letters on the last line of the envelope. Do not write anything below the country's name. For example, the entire "addressee" portion of your envelope could read:
MR. JOHN SMITH
123 OAK STREET
ON K2C 4E6
Place your return address on the upper left of the front of the envelope. Include your name (with or without a title), street address, city, state and zip, along with "U.S.A." as country of origin. Here is an example:
456 ELM STREET
SCHENECTEDY, NY 12345
Mailing a Letter to Canada
Affix the correct amount of postage on the upper right. Mailing a letter to Canada requires international postage rates. Provided you use the correct postage, you can drop the letter in any mailbox or take it to a post office. Although you must fill out a customs form when mailing a package, doing so is not necessary with letters.
USPS Postage to Canada
As of 2020, stamps for standard-sized letters and standard-sized postcards up to 1 ounce start at $1.15. You can mail a first-class letter up to 3.5 ounces — costing $2.08 —before flat-rate charges apply. Sending a standard-sized postcard costs $1.15. Additional rates may apply to square and odd-shaped envelopes, envelopes exceeding maximum thickness or envelopes containing stiff inserts.
Consider Forever Stamps
If you frequently mail letters to Canada, you might consider purchasing Global Forever stamps. As with Forever stamps used for domestic mail, you can purchase stamps at today's cost and they're good indefinitely. Take advantage of Global Forever stamps to protect yourself against rising postal rates.
If You Do Not Know the Postal Code
If you don't know the correct city, province, or postal code, Canada Post has an online tool you can use to help find that information. All you have to do is plug in the street address, rural route, PO box or general delivery and you will get a postal code. You can also search by postal code to get a complete address.
Time Frame for First Class Mail to Canada
A letter sent from the U.S. typically takes 4 to 7 days to reach its Canadian destination. Delivery times depend on the locations of sender and recipient, weather and occurrence of either U.S. or Canadian holidays.
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.