The term "Postal Code" is an official mark of the Canada Post Corporation. Canada uses postal codes to simplify the sorting and delivery of mail. The codes contain six characters in the form "L1L 1L1" where "L" represents a letter of the alphabet and "1" represents a number. A space goes between the third character and the fourth character.
Three and Three
The first three characters designate a particular geographic area. The second set further pinpoints the final delivery area to the postal unit nearest to the destination. The Canada Post calls the first three characters the "forward sortation area" or "FSA" and the second group makes up the "local delivery unit" or "LDU."
The initial letter in the FSA segment of a Canadian postal code stands for one of the 18 major areas the Post Corporation uses to divide the country geographically. For example, the first FSA character designating mail aimed for the Manitoba province is the letter R. Northern Ontario is represented by the letter P and Alberta by T. The second character, a numeric symbol, identifies whether the area is urban or rural. Digits 1 through 9 represent urban areas, and 0 indicates a rural destination. The third character in the FSA identifies a smaller and particular locale within the province or geographic area.
The LDU indicates such precise spots. It can be a particular block within a city or town, a business building, a Canadian department of government, or even a community mailbox. The LDU is also used to identify rural delivery routes, particular post offices, or a group of post office boxes at a specific destination.
Using the Codes
The importance of accuracy in addressing mail is evident when considering the total number of postal codes within Canada. For example, in the province of Ontario alone, there are more than 278,000 unique postal codes. The Canada Post Corporation advises consumers to print the postal code in uppercase letters, separating the first three characters from the last three. Consumers are told not to use hyphens and just leave a space. The Canadian postal service warns that if the code is not written properly, it may delay delivery.
Vicki A Benge began writing professionally in 1984 as a newspaper reporter. A small-business owner since 1999, Benge has worked as a licensed insurance agent and has more than 20 years experience in income tax preparation for businesses and individuals. Her business and finance articles can be found on the websites of "The Arizona Republic," "Houston Chronicle," The Motley Fool, "San Francisco Chronicle," and Zacks, among others.