Canada and England: Screwy Postal Codes

I have to write a lot of letters to these places and it always amazes me how funky the codes are, like M13 9WH; what the hell? Canada and the UK are great and all, but here in the U.S. it is pretty damn logical, right? Numbers get higher from east to west, south to north, whatever. Seems the Canadian/Euro way is overly complicated. Maybe I’m an idiot or Amero-centric or something.

Yep. I agree. You’re Amero-centric :smiley:
:: ducks and runs ::

How typical…someone who doesn’t understand something calling it screwy, eh? :wink:

You yankees and all your numbered postal…errr… I mean zip codes…:stuck_out_tongue:

UK postcodes:

First letter or letters indicates the postal town (the largest town in the area). For example, GU indicates Guildford, or in your example, M is for Manchester. London is a special case, with codes indicating which part of London (E, W, SW, SE, NW, N etc). The following numbers and letters further break down the area into more specific chunks.

The UK postcode was designed to be specific to around 100 houses; in practice, it’s turned out that a postcode is narrowed down to around 6 houses (depending on housing density in the given area). Hence, a letter addressed to “Number 15, AB12 3CD” is still likely to arrive at its destination.

The Post Office allows you to search for addresses on its website, To quote from them…


SW = Postcode Area, identifying the main office through which the mail will be processed.

1A = Postcode District; usually numeric, except in central London, relating to the areas covered by different Delivery Offices.

1 = Sector, identifying a particular district or neighbourhood.

AA = Unit Code, identifying the group of up to 80 addresses.

Well our screwy postal codes give each block it’s own code, so we can presort our mail, try that with your ZIP codes.

Canadian postal codes make sense to me. Letter-number-letter, number-letter-number.

That’s why letters addressed to:
Santa Claus
North Pole
H0H 0H0

actually get somewhere.

It’s the American way

More information than you ever needed to know, straight from Canada Post.

It’s the American way **

No doubt about it. :slight_smile:

Fighting ignorance:

>> Well our screwy postal codes give each block it’s own code, so we can presort our mail, try that with your ZIP codes

Odieman, you are showing your ignorance. ZIP+4 does exactly the same thing. The advantage of having only numbers is that they are less prone to mistakes. When I get hand written addresses in the UK I invariably have to ask “is that a one or an I?”, “is that a zero or an O?”, “Is that a 5 or an S?”

I do believe strictly numerical postal codes are less prone to mistakes and most countries I write to have only numbers. The UK are the oddballs here (like most of the time).

I was going to add a line about the 4 additional digits, but most people don’t seem to use them. As a Canucklehead I’ll forgive your comment about the UK. One reason Canada post uses a combination of numbers and letters is that it gives you more possible postal codes than using strictly numbers.

The first character of a Canadian postal code does a fairly good job of nailinmg dpwn the province, although larger provinces like Quebec and Ontario have codes that start with more than one letter.

Actually, in the US, there’s Zip+4+2, for those who really want to save money by presorting their jillions of letters for the USPS.

no need to be redundant. : )

Thirty millions, mostly fools.
Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) when asked the population of England.

>> I was going to add a line about the 4 additional digits, but most people don’t seem to use them.

Speak for yourself. Most mail I get has ZIP+4. Personal, handwritten mail is probably a small percentage of what I get. All bills, magazines, etc were mailed using Zip+4. Please note the barcode contains The complete ZIP+4. If the mail piece does not have a barcode already printed, the sorting machine will read the address and print the barcode with ZIP+4. From then on only the barcode is read for further sorting. So, all mail I receive is sorted using Zip+4

many people do not realize address reading is done by machines which then print the barcode. If you print the address clearly the machine will read it, print the barcode and send the letter for sorting. If the machine cannot read the address the letter is set aside to be read by a human and have the zip+4 printed. This delays the letter.

With reference to using letters, yes, using letters increases the number of possible combinations but also increases the possibility of mistakes which then negates any gain. Personally I prefer a numbers only system even if it means using more characters. I think it is much more safe to prevent errors. If you want to use letters I would prefer using a very limited number of letters which cannot possibly be confused with any number. A, T, V, X would be good but using I, O, S is asking for trouble.

In fact, if i designed a system, not only would it have only numbers, but it would have some redundancy built in to make it detect errors. In fact the barcode does have an error checking scheme built in. I would build it into the ZIP code itself. I get a fair amount of mail delivered to the wrong address because the ZIP was wrong or because the written address was wrong