Where can I find the shapefiles for Canadian postal codes?

locked by PolyGeo Feb 2 '16 at 22:44

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  • This Q&A has many elements of a discussion mixed with what appears to be some valuable content. I've converted it to Community Wiki and applied a Wiki Lock to it in order to try and get a more canonical answer to emerge. – PolyGeo Feb 2 '16 at 22:46

10 Answers 10

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Note that the Postal Code FSA Conversion files will be freely available as of Oct 24, 2012 as per the new data freedom initiative. See here for details.

  • Unfortunately, that doesn't appear to be the case. The PCCF is still on the road map, but is currently excluded from the open data license: statcan.gc.ca/reference/exceptions-eng.html – JasonBirch Dec 8 '12 at 9:59
  • This data is now available, see my post below. – Nick Albrecht Mar 20 '13 at 16:25
  • 1
    Nick, those are only the FSAs - the first three characters. The full postal code database remains locked away. – scruss Feb 7 '16 at 21:25

A list of all Canadian postal codes (includes city, province, latitude, longitude) is available here:

http://geocoder.ca/?freedata=1

Geocoder collected the postal codes by crowd-sourcing.

  • Hey, that's cool. Wonder if there are any academics out there that have done a comparison between this and the PCCF. – JasonBirch Jul 26 '10 at 5:19
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    The cost is 550.00(USD) for this crowdsourced postal codes – Jeryl Cook Sep 28 '17 at 12:11
  • @JerylCook where do you see this? – Neil McGuigan Sep 28 '17 at 17:11
  • Pricing - geocoder.ca/pricing. There is a throttled free tier. Non-profit orgs can use premium service free of charge (see Terms) – matt wilkie 10 hours ago

Canadian postal codes are not available for free download. You can either purchase the PostCode Conversion File from Statistics Canada or one of many value-added data sets from providers like DMTI Spatial.

The lack of freely available PostCode data for Canada is a huge hindrance to business.

  • Heh @el chief. You're referring to the Data Liberation Initiative (which isn't). There are pretty strict rules on what you're allowed to use the data for under that agreement. statcan.gc.ca/dli-ild/guide-trousse/guide-trousse/toc-tdm/… – JasonBirch Jul 22 '10 at 20:25
  • Wow, bummer! Doesn't Canada have a FOIA equivalent :) – John Weldon Jul 22 '10 at 20:51
  • @John Weldon yes, there is FOI, but that doesn't allow you to use the material counter to crown copyright rules. It all sucks. – JasonBirch Jul 22 '10 at 20:55
  • @JasonBirch would you care to expand why you think it is a hindrance to business? isn't this the Canadian government protecting it's citizens? – Felipe Valdes Jun 12 at 20:46

UPDATE: 2016 FSA Census Boundary files are now available (as of Sept 13, 2017 according to their site).

UPDATE: Stats Canada has since released the Forward Sortation Areas Boundary files (as of February 5, 2013 according to their site).

Download Page for all 2011 Census Boundary Files

Download Page for all 2016 Census Boundary Files


Statistics Canada has a page dedicated to making available different Shape files regarding Canadian Boundaries, both Geographical and Digital. (link is the same as the one mentioned above)

http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2011/geo/bound-limit/bound-limit-2011-eng.cfm

While they make no mention of one specific to every possible Postal Code (nor do I think you're very likely to find one), they do list one for the FSAs but it does not as of yet have a release date.

If you only need the geographic center of the postalcodes however (instead of the boundary), check out the free database at http://geocoder.ca/. You can obtain the approx center of the FSA from this as well by grouping them by the first three digits of the PostalCode and then averaging the Latitude/Longitude. SQL would help do this much easier if you import the data into a database first.

Here's a query do do what I mean.

IF NOT EXISTS(SELECT * FROM zipcodeset WHERE LEN(PostalCode) = 3)
BEGIN
    INSERT INTO zipcodeset(PostalCode, Latitude, Longitude)
    SELECT LEFT(PostalCode,3), Avg(Latitude), Avg(Longitude)
    FROM zipcodeset
    GROUP BY LEFT(PostalCode,3)
END

I'm waiting for those FSA Boundary shape files to be released as well so if you see them get published to that site please post a reply here so we can amend the answer. They are now published

  • 2
    "check out the free database at geocoder.ca. " this is not free. its 550.00(USD) – Jeryl Cook Sep 28 '17 at 12:12
  • That is crowdsourced, and is for addresses lat/long only, not postal code geometry boundaries. While you could try to calculate the boundaries by plotting ALL addresses to a map, and then deriving a perimeter of each group of addresses by FSA, it not really something I would ever want to try to do, let alone maintain. Also, the 2016 updated boundaries are available from Stats Canada (apparently as of as of Sept 13, 2017) – Nick Albrecht Sep 28 '17 at 22:09

you can purchase Canadian Postal Codes and FSA Boundaries from Geografx Digital Mapping Services info@geografx.ca , www.geografx.ca or www.geografx.com

The FSA shapefiles are up now at http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2011/geo/bound-limit/bound-limit-2011-eng.cfm I just downloaded them, now only if there was an LDU shapefile available...

EDIT:

Here is a picture of the LDU shapefile loaded in QGIS and zoomed into Stanley Park in Vancouver BC: LDU shapefile of Stanley Park in Vancouver, BC

The data is available through the Platinum Postal Suite, v2008.3, 2008 which I was able to access through my university account. The LDU data is for all of Canada and is broken up into a per province structure, unfortunately you have to download all of them at the same time though which makes it larger than 1 gb...

  • you can find the FSA at the above link, and if you have access to the Platinum Postal Suite, v2008.3, 2008 you can also attain the LDU polygons. – Chewy Mar 20 '13 at 19:09

There are commercial available canada postal code data as well, they are usually more precise and up to date. Can refer to IGEOCODE postal code products at http://www.igeocode.com/products/capostalcodes/demo/

  • According to the demo on that page, the Premium edition does include Latitude and Longitude however none of the editions have any polygon shape data. Depends on how business critical it is to have precise coordinates for postal codes. If you don't necessarily need a local copy of the database, online Geocoding services like developers.google.com/maps/documentation/geocoding will do the trick too – Nick Albrecht Jul 11 '12 at 23:44

I've also worked with another company out of Ontario called AGSI. Their database has FSA and LDU boundaries along with address points.

Here is a link to a crowdsourced shapefile.

http://geocoder.ca/?freedata=1

Canada Post is suing over this:

http://geocoder.ca/?sued=1

I don't see how Canada Post can claim copyright over addresses submitted to a crowdsourced project, but I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.

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