Posts Tagged national change of address

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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What is your Move Update policy?

What is your Move Update policy? Is it current? Is it documented? The lack of effective Move Update policies and procedures can be very costly.

In the news yesterday, it was reported that a nationally known company settled an allegation that they had not been meeting USPS Move Update standards.  The settlement was reported to be $1.5 million.

If you are claiming postage discounts, it is mandatory that your mailing list be Move Update compliant. This means you must update your list within 95 days of your mailing.  There are several methods available to vet your list to meet Move Update standards.

National Change of Address (NCOA) processing

The NCOA database is licensed by the USPS to a limited number of processing services, so there is no software you can buy to handle the process internally. The service usually adds very little to your processing costs and typically your mail house can provide the service to you.

You can request from the NCOA list processor a report showing all of the corrected address as well as any addresses that have changed but not filed a COA.  You must use the corrected addresses – don’t just say “hey I had NCOA run and here’s my documentation”.  And don’t neglect to update your database!

The good news is that because this process occurs prior to mailing, you save can money on both printing and postage.

Current Resident/Current Occupant

This is the least expensive Move Update method.  Simply adding “Or Current Resident”, “Or Current Occupant” or “Occupant” to your mailing address instructs the USPS to deliver to the address and ignore the name on the mail piece.  You can choose to eliminate the name entirely or add “Current Resident” on the same line or beneath the name line.

If you are mailing First Class, be aware that by using this method, USPS will not forward the mail or return to you if the person or business has moved.  Your mail is delivered to the designated address, period, and you will not be able to update your address list.

Address Correction Services

Several USPS address correction options can be used to meet Move Update requirements.  They include “Return Service Requested”, “Change Service Requested”, and “Address Service Requested”.  There are different costs and requirements for each service.  For more information regarding these services visit

Don’t be blindsided by a fine.  Ask your mail house for assistance and keep your database clean!

If you need more information regarding Move Update standards, please feel free to reach out to one of Strahm’s qualified Customer Service Representatives.  They can be reached at (816) 756-2733 or by email at

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