It's great that Stats Can produced this for free! However, it's useless if it's wrong. I'm using the shapefile for territory planning so the FSA (postal code) data needs to be 100% accurate. But look at this image! Why would there be the same FSA all over the place?

enter image description here

Where can I find a 100% accurate shapefile for Canada? I'm fine with paying if I need to...

Edit: Here's another one from my old home postal code T5E. Why the heck is the Statscan shapefile showing T5E above Edmonton? If you look at Google Maps, it's got it right...

enter image description here

  • 1
    That's only the first three characters of a 6 character postal code.
    – phloem
    Dec 12, 2014 at 18:07
  • I only care about the FSA as I'm using the map to assign territories to sales reps and they get to own an entire FSA. I'm trying to ensure that everything is geographically aligned (so you don't need to skip over someone elses territory to get to your client). But I need my source data to be 100% correct, and I'm suspecting that Statscan's shapefile has errors Dec 12, 2014 at 18:48
  • It may help if you add a link to where you downloaded the data. I downloaded a copy, which differs from yours, from the latest census page here: www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2011/geo/bound-limit/…
    – phloem
    Dec 12, 2014 at 19:38
  • That's where I got my data from too. I grabbed the Digital Forward Sortation Areas -- which one did you download? Dec 12, 2014 at 19:41
  • I wouldn't down vote this question, poster is trying to determine the accuracy of the data. I cant find any statement from StatsCan on the accuracy. And we all know how CP has some copywrite on this data, so its everyones best guess with the data. Not that this is real helpful, but I have a FSA dataset produced by Esri/Tele Atlas for all of NA. Comparing it to your screen shot, there are no disconnected FSA. Who knows what is right? Maybe CP is the only ones who know....
    – KHibma
    Dec 12, 2014 at 20:13

3 Answers 3


The forward sortation area (FSA) is only the first 3 characters in the six character Canadian postal code. You need to include the local delivery unit if you want unique values.

From here: enter image description here

  • I understand that, the above map is only showing the FSA part of the code. The FSA shouldn't have multiple shapes though, or should it? Dec 12, 2014 at 18:40
  • Also, I notice in my home FSA, T5E (not shown but I can show you if you like) that it actually contained two polygons. One way north of Edmonton. What the heck? When I double check it against another map, the northern (wrong) T5E should actually be T5Y... I think this shapefile is riddled with errors Dec 12, 2014 at 18:41
  • I don't know what to tell you, every one I check is correct.
    – phloem
    Dec 12, 2014 at 18:44
  • See my edit (new picture). Check out T5E Dec 12, 2014 at 18:47

This wont really be an answer, but its the only way I can add a picture. I have data from TeleAtlas/Esi. I cant talk to its accuracy, but I believe its data 2009 (and not sure how it was created). Downloading and overlaying the StatsCan data (which they say is used from CP with permission) you can see the obvious differences. TeleAtlas/Esri show T5E/T0A in red outlines, while StasCan is shown in green/purple.

Its possible that they've split the FSAs with population changes. T0A from the TA/E dataset was huge. Now with the StatsCan dataset T0A seems to be modified. With population changes maybe they did modify the FSA to multiple areas?



I'm seven years late, but Statistics Canada's postal code data (for FSAs and, if you use the PCCF, LDUs) are not wrong (generally).

Postal codes in Canada can correspond to disjunct polygons, a bit like Russia proper and its territory of Kaliningrad. Both are Russian territory, but Kaliningrad Oblast (once known as East Prussia) is Russian soil. So goes it with Canada Post's FSAs and LDUs. A given postal code can correspond to multiple, disjunct territories.

In a GIS, this makes the dissolve procedure annoying. You can also end up with centroids that, in theory, do not actually coincide with their corresponding postal code.

I assume that the reason Canada Post does this is that originally there were fewer postal codes, and as particular locations within an existing postal code reached a minimum threshold of addresses, that location received its own postal code. While I have not conducted a comprehensive analyis of Canadian postal code geography, my anecdotal observation is that rural postal codes near suburban sprawl tend to have more fragmented geographies than postal codes in the middle of urban areas.

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