Postal Code Maps for Marketing

Since the introduction of the Canadian postal coding system in the early 70's Forward Sortation Areas (FSA) have been gaining popularity and importance in marketing departments. Experience has shown that postal codes are an excellent tool for targeting. Each FSA has distinct boundaries that allow you to define your market area very precisely. A wide range of business and consumer statistical data are available from many sources, including DATAMAP's STATISTICS SUPPLEMENT TO THE ATLAS, for identifying the characteristics of your target group within the FSA. The benefits of dealing with established, nationally recognized territorial units can hardly be overstated.

The Canadian Atlas of FSA Postal Areas provides you with maps showing every Forward Sortation Area in Canada. With two-colour rendition and sufficient geographic reference, the Atlas clearly depicts the quilt of FSAs from coast to coast. As the trend towards database target marketing and effective use of the post office gained momentum, the Atlas has become an essential tool for marketing departments and for an array of other users.

Since 1990, consecutive editions of the Atlas have introduced new and modified FSAs and Rural codes, cross-referenced Urban FSA Index by FSA and by city name, improved map grouping for several areas (e.g.: Victoria and Sydney, BC), corrections of errors and omissions etc.. To keep you informed about the constant urban and rural codes growth and changes, semi-annual UPDATE SHEETS are available from DATAMAP. To order your UPDATE SHEETS and STATISTICS SUPPLEMENT please call (416) 287-3240 Fax (416) 287-3476 e-mail:




Forward Sortation Area (FSA)

An FSA is a geographical area represented by the first three alphanumeric characters of the postal code. For example in the postal code M4S 1G1, the FSA is represented by M4S). Rural Canada is presently divided into approximately 190 Rural FSAs and there are over 1300 Urban FSAs in the urban centres. The first character of the FSA indicates the province or major populated area to which the FSA is assigned. Postal codes beginning with "A" are in Newfoundland, "B" in Nova Scotia, "M" in Toronto, etc.. The second character of the FSA indicates whether the postal code is located in an urban or rural area. All postal codes with "0" (zero) in the second position belong to a Rural FSA.

Rural FSA

The boundaries of a rural FSA are shaped by the geographic position of the scattered in it rural communities with identical first 3 characters of their postal codes. For example the boundary line between the Rural FSAs L0N and L0P lies between the L0N towns and the L0P towns. Rural FSAs are shown in the Rural Area Maps and in the Canada Reference Map. The last 3 characters of the postal code are unique to each of these single code localities within the Rural FSA, but always end with a "0" (zero), e.g. Rosemount, L0N 1R0. Recently, Service Codes which end with numbers other than "0" have been additionally assigned to some localities with rural FSA designations. The original valid postal code (ending with a "0") is always shown in the Rural Index.

Urban FSA

Cities are divided into Urban Forward Sortation Areas (FSA). In Canadian postal code geography urban centres are like islands surrounded by Rural FSAs up to several hundred kilometers across. The outer limits of an Urban FSA are strictly defined by a physical boundary such as a street, transmission line, highway, railway tracks, ravine, creek, river etc.. Urban centres with two or more FSAs are featured in the Atlas with separate maps, and are indicated on the respective Rural Area Maps by a red dot. Localities which have been assigned only a single Urban FSA appear on the Rural Area Maps as three characters (FSA) followed by three asterisks (e.g.. Camrose, T4V***). In contrast the single code localities within the Rural FSA have simply been listed in the Rural Index accompanying each Rural Area Map.

Local Delivery Unit (LDU)

The LDU is represented by the last 3 characters of the urban postal codes. An LDU could be any of the following: a block face (one side of a city block between intersections); both sides of a street between intersections; apartment building with more than 50 units or a group of townhomes with common civic number addresses; business building with more than 10 businesses; large volume receiver (LVR) with more than 100 pieces of mail daily; rural route (RR); box range (a group of lock boxes in a post office); mobile route service in an urban delivery service. Hundreds of LDUs are usually served in an urban FSA. Once the count of LDUs reaches 2000 LDUs the FSA will usually be split in two. The LDU should not be confused with the postal walk assigned to letter carriers.




  1. The Canada Reference Map shows the provinces divided into smaller areas (Rural FSA Area Maps), each consisting of several Rural FSAs. The large red numbers can be used to quickly find the detailed map of an area with the red thumb index along the edge of the map pages.
  2. Every Rural FSA Area Map in the Atlas is followed by individual maps of cities with two or more FSAs in it, indicated by a large red dot. If a second urban FSA has been added to a single one recently, a map might not be available.
  3. Single Urban FSA towns near a large urban area appear often in both the rural maps and, in detail, in the appropriate urban maps.
  4. The maps are in various scales, and for that reason can not be compared directly for distance measurement. Map orientation is north-vertical unless otherwise indicated by an arrow.
  5. Some rural communities that have not been assigned a unique six-digit postal code could often be found on standard road maps, but not in this Atlas. Conversely, some localities featured in the Atlas are very small, and can only be found in Government databases.
  6. The city or town providing service to a rural FSA is shown on the Rural Area Maps in small capitals below or above the FSA label.
  7. In Canada Post usage, places have been referenced from time to time using different names (e.g.. Saint[e] Marie vs. Ville de Ste-Marie, and recently Ville-Marie). Names of places and urban areas in the Atlas reflect the Canada Post usage and structuring of the Postal Coding system. In some cases they differ from other official publications.
  8. The official Canada Post abbreviations for province names are used in the Atlas, except the Table of Contents thumb index. The long established PQ for the Province of Quebec has been changed to QC. In some cases long names of places are truncated.
  9. Many of the new FSAs don’t have letter carrier delivery service but are designated as urban (e.g.. B3V). This new category of FSA is assigned to areas with mostly rural characteristics, usually quite large. Several single code localities are agglomerated under a newly assigned common "urban" FSA while preserving the rural mode of the postal service. Rural route addresses (e.g..RR #1)are replaced with municipal street addresses (e.g.. 1234 Highway #12). As precise boundary description is not available, FSAs of this type adjacent to urban centres are only shown in the Rural FSA Area Maps.
  10. The FSA boundaries seldom coincide with Statistics Canada area boundaries (EA, CSD, CD, etc.). Electronic FSA boundary maps designed for demographic analysis, such as the ones produced by Compusearch, are available from DATAMAP. The FSA boundary lines in these maps are modified to match the boundary lines of Statistics Canada areas.
  11. The Postal Coding System is not free from occasional discrepancies. DATAMAP can provide some explanations, as they are available from Canada Post Corporation. On the other hand, given the scope of the project, you may find an error or omission on our part. Please let us know if you find one.

We hope that your Atlas of FSA Postal Areas will be a well-used reference tool. As mentioned earlier, the Canadian postal code data is constantly changing, and the information contained in this Atlas will have to be revised over time. The changes are most likely to affect rapidly growing communities, including Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. Please contact us for obtaining update sheets.

DATAMAP Electronic Mapping

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