MapInfo Forward Sortation Area

Provider: Pitney Bowes Business Insight

This file represents the geographic polygon boundary file and centroids for Canada’s Forward Sortation Areas (FSAs). FSAs correspond to the first three digits of Canada’s six digit postal code, designating a postal delivery area. This file includes both urban and rural FSAs.

FSAs were not designed to respect standard geographic boundaries, except at the provincial level. Still there are occurrences when FSAs may cross provincial boundaries, such as in Flin Flon, Manitoba/Saskatchewan; Lloydminster, Saskatchewan/Alberta; and Makaoo 120 Indian Reserve, Saskatchewan/Alberta.

GDT Canada’s methodology focuses on the ability to assign DAs to the most appropriate FSA and to locate and update the FSA boundaries demonstrating the greatest degree of change. This degree of change is based on the quantity of postal codes with a particular FSA falling in a different FSA boundary. This approach involves some of the following basic compromises:

  • FSAs do not respect DA boundaries and there are numerous occurrences of DAs that have mail delivered through two different FSAs. In these situations, all of the households in a DA are assigned to one and only one FSA within a DA attribute table.
  • Although FSAs are often delineated by street boundaries, there are numerous occasions where a single FSA is used for both sides of the delineating street. Since DAs are more likely to be delineated by a street, the DA will likely be split when creating the FSA boundary, to incorporate the proper distribution of the FSA.
  • FSAs are intended for mail delivery and sorting, and occasionally have no spatial reference. This explains the differences in the number of actual FSAs versus those with boundaries. These non-spatial FSAs are included since some household based databases aggregate to these FSAs.
  • There are also a number of FSAs that do not dominate the distribution of postal codes within a DA and therefore cannot be assigned by majority rule to any DA. However they may have a boundary based on overall distribution of the points, and the fact that the FSA boundary file does not follow a DA boundary. Several of these postal code points not assigned a DA are also found within alternate FSA boundaries. A table of possible matches is presented below.


FSAs are defined by a variety of sources, usually geographic, linking postal geography with Dissemination Area (DA) boundaries. The creation of the boundary file involves snapping FSA boundaries to 2001 DAs where no alternative descriptions are available. This is particularly useful in rural areas where available postal maps are much more generalized. Distribution of postal codes and street segments across DAs are used to determine which direction a split should take place in order to limit the bias created by overlapping boundaries.

Database Definitions

  • FSA: Forward Sortation Area (First Three Digits of a Postal Code)
  • NAME: Feature Name
  • PR: Province Code

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Learn More About MapInfo Forward Sortation Area Boundaries/Points


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