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How To Address Letters, Mails and Envelops in Canada with Mailing Address Format

By 12 April 2024May 26th, 2024No Comments
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How To Address Letters, Mails, and Envelopes in Canada with Mailing Address Format

If you are wondering how to address an envelope to be sent to Canada, this blog is the right place for you. While sending out letters, envelopes, and other documents or even parcels – it is important to know the mailing address format of the destination country. In this article, we are going to focus on Canadian addresses, the direct mails sent from Canada, and the format that is followed by Canada Post.

canada address format and parsing

By following all the guidelines of the mail service about addressing an envelope, you can avoid unnecessary delays, and lost mailpieces, and also facilitate efficiency. If the official format is not followed, it may lead to a lot of trouble, and your letters and mails might not reach on time.

The address reading machine used by the mail service should be able to read your addresses easily and without any issues that can be created due to missing details or an improper format. Many people do not know the exact guidelines that are required to be followed while writing a postal address. Hence, they should know and understand how addressing works.

Mailing Format for Canadian Addresses

There is a specific format for all types of Canadian addresses that needs to be followed while addressing an envelope.

Civic addresses:

  • All residential, commercial, and industrial addresses are classified as civic addresses in Canada
  • It is a complete address consisting of the house numbers, street names, province, municipality, and postal code
  • The first line should always be the name of the addressee. The name should always make the first line, irrespective of the type of address and other details
  • The second line should be the main body of the address, that is, the civic address details. The apartment number and the street name should be mentioned on this line. Write the apartment number first and then put a hyphen followed by the street address. For example, 5-4658 Bay Street
  • For the last line, you should add the municipality name, province code, and the 6-character postal code
  • If there are any additional details that you would like to mention – they can be placed on the second line, below the addressee’s name. The rest of the lines are to be moved downward. For instance, you would want to mention the department or business name to ensure your mail’s deliverability to the right recipients – you can always say it below the addressee’s name

Rural route addresses:

  • Many rural route addresses do not have apartment numbers or street names. Rather, their mailing addresses are mentioned with a rural route identifier and that particular address’s station information
  • The Canada address format for rural route addresses is similar to civic addresses. You need to change the second line wherein you mention the unit number and the street address. Instead of that, mention the exact rural route identifier and the station details
  • If any additional information is to be included, mention it on the second line and shift to the other lines below

Rural route addresses that contain civic addresses:

  • Several rural route addresses have a civic address as well, for better deliverability. In that case, you can add the civic address line below the addressee’s name (second line)
  • The rural route identifier and the station details should also be mentioned. You can add this information on the third line
  • The last line will remain the same

Also Read: Enhance Your Data Quality With An Address Validation API

Elements of a Canadian Address


Keep your mailing addresses short and precise so there is less scope for guesswork and interpretations. The Canada Post has approved a lot of short forms that you can include in your mailing addresses. Individuals and companies both should know how to address an envelope using abbreviations.

Street types: Many street types in Canada must be clearly mentioned while writing a Canadian mailing address. Following are some examples of street-type abbreviations.

  • Extension – EXTN
  • Expressway – EXPY
  • Grounds – GRNDS
  • Freeway – FWY
  • Avenue – AVE
  • Boulevard – BLVD
  • Point – PT

Street directions: North, South, East, West, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, and Southwest can be written as N, S, E, W, NE, NW, SE, and SW.

Secondary Unit Designators

Apartment, suite, and unit numbers are referred to as secondary unit designators. Although Canada Post allows the mention of other designators, you can mention these unit identifiers by using the abbreviations APT, SUITE, and UNIT. The unit number should be mentioned after any of these abbreviations—for example, APT 201 or SUITE 5.

Provinces and Territories

The Canada address format requires you to mention a province code. The province names are not written as complete words – for quick processing by the mail service. You can search for your province code on Canada Post’s website easily.

Postal Code

Postal codes are an essential requirement for addressing an envelope in Canada. It can help customers in presorting their mails, letters, and envelopes to reduce delivery times. The mail service is also able to sort your mails mechanically and manually using postal codes. They aid in distribution and delivery. Postal codes consist of both numbers and alphabets. The format used for a postal code is “ANA NAN,” wherein A stands for an alphabet and N represents a number.

All Canadian postal codes are divided into two parts:

  • The forward sortation area (FSA)
  • The local delivery unit (LDU)

The starting three characters constitute the FSA part, and the remaining three characters form the LDU part. For example, V8K (FSA) 2L6 (LDU).

The forward sortation area represents a major geographical region within a location, whereas the local delivery unit states the smallest delivery unit within that geographical location.

Also Read: Best Address Verification Software

Guidelines to Address Letters, Mails, and Envelopes in Canada

You can refer to these guidelines on how to address envelopes to be sent within Canada. They can help you write your postal addresses speedily and accurately.

  • Always write all your address components in uppercase or block letters
  • According to the Canada address format, the title or the addressee name line should always be the first line
  • The city name, province code, and postal code should be mentioned on the same line. Even if the city or municipality names are very long and require a lot of space, the province and postal codes are still to be mentioned on the same line to avoid misreadings and wrong deliveries
  • Separate the FSA with the LDU of the postal code with space. No hyphens should be used while writing a postal code
  • The apartment, suite, or unit numbers should be separated by the street address using a single hyphen (-). A hashtag (#) or any other symbol should never be used
  • Put a single space between the city name and the province code
  • Put two spaces between the address’s province and postal code
  • Ensure to leave a minimum of 0.6 inches of space on each side of the envelope. The addressing zone should be placed in the middle.
  • There must be at least 1.6 inches of blank space from the top of the envelope to the addressing zone and 0.75 inches from the bottom.
  • The recipient’s address should be placed only inside the addressing zone in the middle of the envelope for standard envelope sizes. The sender’s address should be located in the top-left corner of the envelope. The postal stamp should be attached to the envelope in the top-right corner.
  • On bigger envelope sizes, all the elements should be placed the same way. The blank spaces to be left on all sides of the envelope are likely to increase, but the elements’ location will remain unchanged.
  • If you wish to insert graphics or your brand logo on your envelopes, you can shift the addressing zone to the right and place it to its left.
  • Do not use punctuation marks, except for the places where it is specified. You can use punctuation if they form a part of a name, for example – St. Mary’s.
  • The different address lines should be at a distance of at least 0.55 mm from each other. However, space should never be more than one line.
  • All the characters should be printed in the same font and at least 2 mm in height, not exceeding 5 mm.

Also Read: Address Verification API

Other Things to Know While Addressing Mails in Canada

Military Address

Military addresses belong to the people who serve at the Department of National Defence, their personnel, civilians, and family members. The Canadian Forces Post Office handles the mails to be sent to these addresses. This postal service also operates Fleet Mail Offices. Instead of a postal code, the Army Post Office (APO) number is used for sending military mail.

Ahead of that, you are supposed to mention the code AE representing mailing to the Armed Forces who are serving in the Middle East, Europe, Canada, and Africa. The remaining format can remain the same.

Bilingual Address

While addressing an envelope according to the Canada address format, you need to take care of a couple of things relating to bilingual addresses. These addresses are used to send mails in two languages for various reasons. There has to be a black vertical line of at least 0.7 mm between both addresses. You should leave a space of about 10 mm on both sides of the black line. The addresses can be written beyond this space.

Return Address

You can write the return address in the same format as the delivery address. Do not print the return address in a larger font size as compared to the delivery address. Moreover, it should be clearly distant from the mailing address.

Although it is recommended to place this address in the top-left corner of the envelope, you can mention it on the back of the envelope at the top.

USA Address

The mailing address format to send USA mails from Canada is:

  • First line: Addressee name (individual, institution, or company name).
  • Second-last line: City, state, and ZIP code. (Two spaces to be left between the state and zip code. Note that there should be a hyphen between the fifth and sixth digits of a ZIP+4 code. Moreover, remember to mention the two-letter abbreviations for state names).
  • Third-last line: The apartment or suite number, and street address.
  • Last line: Country (the country name should be mentioned alone on the last line. There should be nothing else written after this line). If you need to mention anything else, you can print it on the second line and below the addressee’s name.
  • International Address:
    • International addresses should be written in a format similar to USA addresses. However, city names can be replaced by municipality names, and provinces or territories can replace states, ZIP codes can be replaced as postal codes.
    • Country names should not be written using any abbreviations. They should always be written in full and spelled correctly. For example, IN for India, UK for the United Kingdom, or UAE for the United Arab Emirates is not acceptable.

PO Address

PO addresses also use the same format as civic addresses. Only replace the street name with a PO box number.

Also Read: Bulk Batch Address Verification Services

The Bottom Line

There are a number of advantages of using the right mailing address format. You can save costs, increase mailing accuracy, avoid delays and lost mails, and reduce your letters and direct mail’s carbon footprints.

All the guidelines on how to address an envelope are mentioned above so that you can accelerate the speed of your mail deliveries and prevent any misplacements. You no longer need to reship your documents or take care of additional handling. All you have to do is follow the Canada address format and start mailing your letters and envelopes.