Canadian postal codes and abbreviations for provinces and territories

Skip to:

You may be familiar with the abbreviation “MB” for Manitoba by now. But do you know what YT, AB or QC stand for? Learning the abbreviation for Canadian provinces and territories is one way of familiarizing yourself with the various provinces of your new country. Knowing them also comes in handy especially when formatting address labels.

Internationally approved alpha code/Postal abbreviation
Alberta AB
British Columbia BC
Manitoba MB
New Brunswick NB
Newfoundland and Labrador NL
Nova Scotia NS
Northwest Territories NT
Nunavut NU
Ontario ON
Prince Edward Island PE
Quebec QC
Saskatchewan SK
Yukon YT

Postal codes

Have you noticed those six-digit combinations of numbers and letters at the end of addresses? And have you ever wondered what they are for? This string of alphanumeric characters is called a postal code. It is also known as a zip code in the US or postcode in the UK. Postal codes are assigned to specific geographical areas, as well as some individual addresses or institutions that receive large amounts of mail. Its purpose is mainly to make sorting mail more accurate and efficient for the postal service.

The Canadian postal code uses six alphanumeric characters (two groups of three). The first three characters (one letter/one number/one letter) are regional indicators, such as the province/territory and then urban area or village. The second set (one number/one letter/one number) are local indicators determining the street, building, or a post office. Space separates the two sets of characters.

When you need to send out a letter or package, the address label’s proper format should be: the name of the person or institution you are sending the mail to/the number of the house or building/street/the name of the city/an abbreviation of the name of the province (see table above)/then the postal code. If you are sending mail within Canada, you don’t need to write “Canada” at the end of the address label. Otherwise, include it in your return address. For example:

English Online
610-294 Portage Avenue,
Winnipeg, MB R3C 0B9
Canada

Fun facts

  • Manitoba was the second province in Canada to be fully coded. Ottawa was chosen for the pilot coding, and so it was the first city to be coded. The use of postal codes was introduced in 1971.
  • You can use a postal code to find the nearest services (using their websites), like a postal outlet, Service Canada office, major stores, bank branches, ATMs and bank machines. You can also find your federal riding and Member of Parliament using a postal code.
  • All members of parliament have the same postal code – K1A 0A6.
  • Santa Claus has his own personal postal code. His mailing address is (No postage required!):
  • Santa Claus
    North Pole H0H 0H0
    Canada

Sources: Explore Canada, Postal Codes for Canada, About News; Canadian Museum of History (A Chronology of Canadian Postal History)

Back to top

Community Resources

If you need to know the exact postal code of an address, go to Canada Post’s Find a Postal Code. If you need to do the reverse and look up an address when you have the postal code, go to Find an Address.

Back to top

Quiz

Back to top

We'd love to hear from you!

Please login to tell us what you think.

Related Learning Activities

Voting in Municipal Elections in Manitoba

Winnipeg City Hall, Manitoba Canada

Voting in any election may seem a little confusing at times. Municipal elections are no exception. Attend this workshop to… Read more »

Voting in Provincial Elections in Manitoba

Golden Boy on top of Manitoba Legislature

Voting in Federal Elections in Canada

red maple leaf with white check mark in the middle

Voting in Canada. Does the thought of this seem overwhelming or complicated? Join this workshop to learn how uncomplicated it… Read more »

Rights and responsibilities of Canadian residents and citizens

Image of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Attend this workshop to learn everything you need to know as a resident or citizen of Canada!

Back to top

CC BY-NC-SAText of this page is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA, unless otherwise marked. Please attribute to English Online Inc. and link back to this page where possible. For images and videos, check the source for licensing information.