USPS | The 411 on NCOAlink

What YOU Need To Know About  NCOALink

“We currently have our vendor run NCOALink on our mailing lists, why do we continue to receive Undeliverable As Addressed returns?”


NCOALink stands for National Change of Address. This is a process provided only by licensed vendors to accept your database and “bounce” it against the most current USPS National Change of Address database.

Anyone, be it an individual person, a family or a business, who submits a Change of Address form to the USPS is updated within the database. Comparing your database to that of the USPS, if there is a move detected you are provided with that new address.

This is a process done before you print/mail so there is a cost savings by making corrections to or eliminating records with undeliverable addresses. This also gets your mailpiece into the recipient’s mailbox faster because it doesn’t need to be handled multiple times by the USPS forwarding mail on to the new address. Getting the mail to the mailbox faster is a plus when your company is mailing payable statements or invoices – faster to the box = faster you may receive payment, right?

In 2008, the USPS mandated Move Update compliance. Your address list must be updated no more than 90 days prior to presenting to the USPS for mailing.  NCOALink meets Move Update requirements.

As to the question of why you continue to receive Undeliverable As Addressed (UAA) mail returned to you even after you’ve had your list NCOALink processed. Some of these pieces may be due to a legitimate move, but no one submitted a Change of Addreess (COA) form to the USPS. If the move occurred more than 18 months ago, this First Class piece of mail will be returned to you; the address could be a vacant home or building; the recipient may be deceased.

But there are other, trickier reasons a mailpiece may be returned.

If a COA form has been submitted to USPS, but in your database you have listed John A. Sample, and John submitted his COA as only John Sample, NCOALink will return to you a “close match”. It will be left to you to decide if this is an address you want to change/update within your database.

If an entire family moved, but John A. Sample submitted a COA showing only his name and marked as an individual, Mary B. Sample may result in a UAA. A move may also have occurred between the time you had your data NCOALink processed and the time of the actual mailing.

NCOALink provides many benefits, enhancing your overall mailing. NCOALink

  • Improves address quality through standardization and parsing.
  • Speeds delivery of your offer by eliminating forwarding.
  • Is less expensive than ACS (Address Change Service)
  • Reduces undeliverable mail resulting in postage and material savings.
  • Helps maintain accurate customer address files.
  • Provides CASS™ certification of your list enabling you to qualify for postal discounts.

Talk to your printing/mailing vendor and discover how NCOALink can improve your mail today! With an estimated 43 million moves made per year, keeping your database current can reap significant cost savings.


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