Abbreviations for Provinces and Territories in Canada

How to Address an Envelope or Parcel

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Accurate addresses do not just help lower costs by eliminating redelivery and extra handling; being accurate also reduces the carbon footprint of mail delivery and gets mail where it needs to go faster. It helps to know the correct two-letter province and territory abbreviations if sending mail in Canada.

Accepted Postal Abbreviations

The two-letter abbreviations for Canadian provinces and territories that are recognized by Canada Post for mail in Canada are based on the English spellings of the names, though the two letters also appear in the French spellings. Northwest Territories, for instance, uses the initials NT, which is the first letters of each word in English, but the first and last letters of the French Nord-Ouest.

The country is divided into administrative divisions known as provinces and territories. The 10 provinces are Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan. The three territories are Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon.

Province/Territory Abbreviation
Alberta AB
British Columbia BC
Manitoba MB
New Brunswick NB
Newfoundland and Labrador NL
Northwest Territories NT
Nova Scotia NS
Nunavut NU
Ontario ON
Prince Edward Island PE
Quebec QC
Saskatchewan SK
Yukon YT

Canada Post has specific postal code rules. Postal codes are an alphanumeric number, similar to a ZIP code in the United States. They are used for mailing, sorting and delivering the mail in Canada and are handy for other information about your area.

Similar to Canada, the U.S. Postal Service uses two-letter postal abbreviations for each state and territory in the United States. The Canadian and the United States postal services have an agreement to avoid overlapping of postal abbreviations to avoid confusion when mail is sent between the neighboring countries.

Mail Format and Stamps

Any letter sent within Canada has the destination address of the center of its envelope with a stamp or meter label on the top right corner of the envelope. A return address, although not required, can be put on the top left corner or the back of the envelope.

The address should be printed clearly or in an easy-to-read typeface.

  • First Line: Name of recipient
  • Second Line: Civic address (street address)
  • Last Line: Municipality name, a single space, the two-letter province abbreviation, two full spaces, and then the postal code.

Any additional information should appear between the second and last lines. Some rural mail does not include a civic or street address and requires such additional information.

If you are sending mail within Canada, a country designation is not necessary. If you are sending mail to Canada from another country, follow all of the same instructions as listed above, but add the word 'Canada' on a separate line at the very bottom. 

First-class mail to Canada from the United States is set at international rates, and thus costs more than a letter mailed within the United States. Check with your local post office to be sure you have the correct postage (which varies based on weight.)

More About the Canada Post

Canada Post Corporation, known more simply as Canada Post (or Postes Canada), is the crown corporation that functions as the country's primary postal operator. Originally known as Royal Mail Canada, founded in 1867, it was rebranded as Canada Post in the 1960s.

On October 16, 1981, the Canada Post Corporation Act officially came into effect. This abolished the Post Office Department and created the present-day crown corporation. The act aimed to set a new direction for the postal service by ensuring the postal service's financial security and independence.

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Your Citation
Munroe, Susan. "Abbreviations for Provinces and Territories in Canada." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Munroe, Susan. (2020, August 27). Abbreviations for Provinces and Territories in Canada. Retrieved from Munroe, Susan. "Abbreviations for Provinces and Territories in Canada." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 28, 2023).