Canadian subnational postal abbreviations

Canadian subnational postal abbreviations

This is a list of Canadian provincial and territorial postal abbreviations. Canada Post currently uses a code system of two capital letters to represent the 13 provinces and territories on addressed mail. These abbreviations allow automated sorting. These codes replaced the inconsistent designation system used by Canadians in the 1990s.

Current abbreviations

The sources of the current abbrevations vary. Some are from the initials of two of the words in the name of a province or territory, while others are from the first and final letter or from the first and some other letter in the name. All of these names are based on the English form of the name, though they also correspond to their French equivalents in various ways (for example, NT could be read for the first and last letters of Nord-Ouest, instead of Northwest Territories). For Quebec and New Brunswick, the two provinces with large numbers of French-speakers, the initials in both languages are identical. The lack of large numbers of Francophones in British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Northwest Territories, and Prince Edward Island would make an abbreviation based on the French name of the province impractical. Yet they once existed "(see Former abbreviations)". Manitoba's abbreviation is due to U.S. states already having abbreviations in all of the letters of the province's name besides "B".

These abbreviations are fully compatible with the equivalent two-letter codes used for states and territorial areas of the United States, because no abbreviations overlap. The policy of not overlapping adjacent-country abbreviations effectively precludes use of NV (Nevada) in Nunavut and T-N as « Terre-Neuve » (Newfoundland). This policy later became a formal agreement between Canada Post and the USPS.

There are no Canadian provinces with names potentially overlapping any other adjacent-country territorial abbreviations, such as SPM and GL, so the issue is presently confined to US-style addresses.

(Note: The Canadian policy of adopting non-overlapping abbreviations to adjacent countries was opposite to the policy adopted by Mexico, where the most convenient two-letter combinations were chosen, regardless of whether that combination was already in use in the United States or Canada, e.g., CO Coahuila, MI Michoacán, MO Morelos, NL Nuevo León, BC Baja California.)

Newfoundland and Labrador's abbreviation became effective 21 October 2002 to reflect the provincial name change from "Newfoundland" to "Newfoundland and Labrador" on 6 December 2001.

Nunavut's code became effective 13 December 2000; before this date and after Nunavut's creation on 1 April 1999, the abbreviation "NT" was used for Nunavut as well as the Northwest Territories. The postal abbreviation could have been said to stand for "Nunavut Territory" (although "Territory" is not part of its official name), reflecting its creation out of Northwest Territories. Using NT for two sparsely populated territories might have been practical, precluding those in Nunavut from additional expenses of replacing signage, letterhead, business cards, and the like. The postal codes for the two territories also begin with 'X', the only two territorial or provincial jurisdictions to share the same initial postal code letter. However, the new code NU was chosen to stem possible confusion and to reflect the new territory's creation.

These abbreviations have no relationship to letters in postal codes, which are assigned by Canada Post on a different basis than these abbreviations. While postal codes are also used for sorting, they allow extensive regional sorting. In addition, several provinces have postal codes that begin with different letters.

A sample of a proper address [| "Canadian Addressing Guide", "Canada Postal Guide"] , Canada Post, 2006; accessed July 19, 2006] [| " Addressing Guidelines", "Postal Guide"] , Canada Post, 2007; accessed December 20, 2007] :


Note that the street type, unit type, and city quadrant, if applicable, are abbreviated, without periods (though using periods, or even spelling out every word in its entirety, is unlikely to affect delivery in any way). Note also the lack of a comma between municipality and province/territory, the double space between the latter and the postal code, and the single space between segments of postal code, all on one line. Addresses should be done in all-upper-case without punctuation, and the unit number may precede street number, with a hyphen, e.g., "27-1643 DUNDAS ST W" using the above example. [|"Addressing", "Postal Standards"] , Canada Post, 2006; accessed July 19, 2006)] [|"Civic Addresses", "Postal Standards"] , Canada Post, 2007; accessed December 20, 2007)]

Former abbreviations

These are all deprecated as postal abbreviations (but not as abbreviations in any other context). It is noteworthy that some of the abandoned French versions included a hyphen. The eventual goal became to standardize all abbreviations into two-character units. In French, with the hyphen, it became a three-character abbreviation, yet, without it, conflict arose with US state abbreviations, e.g., a hyphenless T-N became TN (a duplicate of Tennessee); N-E became NE (a duplicate of Nebraska). Over time, the English forms became standard. Nunavut (created in 1999) does not have a former abbreviation because it did not exist when these codes were phased out.

* Alberta - Alta. C
* British Columbia - B.C. and C.-B. (the latter is the French version, for "Colombie-Britannique")
* Labrador - LB This appeared in Canada Post publications (e.g., The Canadian Postal Code Directory) for the mainland section of the province of Newfoundland.
* Manitoba - Man.
* New Brunswick - N.B.
* Newfoundland - Nfld. and later NF (the two-letter abbreviation used before the province's name changed to Newfoundland and Labrador) and T.-N. (French version, for "Terre-Neuve") D
* Northwest Territories - N.W.T. and T.N.O. (French version, for "Territoires du Nord-Ouest")
* Nova Scotia - N.S. and N.-É. (French version, for "Nouvelle-Écosse")
* Ontario - Ont.
* Prince Edward Island - P.E.I. and Î.P.É. (French version, for "île du Prince-Édouard");
* Quebec - Que. and P.Q. (French version, for "Province de Québec"); later, PQ evolved from P.Q. as the first two-letter non-punctuated abbreviation. Later still, QU evolved as the second two-letter non-punctuated abbreviation, making Quebec's abbreviation consistent with other provinces insofar as using letters solely from the name of the province, but not the word "province", as PQ did. There may also have been political considerations, as "PQ" was and is common shorthand for the Parti Québécois.
* Saskatchewan - Sask.
* Yukon - Yuk.

See also

* Canada Post
* Canadian postal code
* U.S. postal abbreviations


: A. ^ Commonly though unofficially YK (also used in the second-level country code domain name space [] ). ISO-3166-2 lists YT as official [] .: C. ^ Also commonly, but unofficially Alb. in French.: D. ^ LB was commonly but unofficially used for Labrador.


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