Why NCOA?

If you plan to take advantage of postage discounts by presorting your mail, you are required by the USPS to update your list for moves 95 days prior to your mailing.  NCOA is one of the approved methods of meeting the move update requirement.  

But NCOA is not just a painful requirement.  It is a way for you to increase the value of your mailing by reducing the amount of mail pieces you print, address, mail and pay for that will not be delivered.

And, it helps you to continue to communicate with valuable customers who move.

We offer 18 Months of moves at an unbeatable minimum price and soon you can order it right from our web site.  We also offer 48 months of moves both will meet the USPS requirements.  However, if your list is old, you should use the 48 month update which costs a bit more but will give you the new addresses where available for moves made up to 48 months ago.  To have your list updated with the 48 month move database you must call or email us for processing.   You may also want to use a Proprietary Change of Address database (PCOA) in addition to the USPS database.  PCOAs are compiled from non-USPS sources such as periodical subscriptions.  If your list is really old the 48 month move and PCOA may be insufficient.  We suggest you not mail them or we can discuss techniques that can help reduce the problem.

Call or email us for 48 months of NCOA or PCOA processing

What is NCOA anyway??

NCOA is a process where your list is matched against the USPS database of moves.  The database is compiled from information you provide your post office when you notify them of you, your family or your company's move to another location.  It takes about 6 weeks for the information to get from your post office into the national database.  

Your list is matched by name, address and zip code to the national database per USPS requirements.  If there is a match, the new address is returned.  However, in some cases a new address is not available but it is known that the person has moved from the address you provided.  In this case, you will get back a "Nixie" code indicating this and your address information will be replaced with corresponding info such as, "Moved no forwarding address" or "Foreign Move".  In other cases, there is a match but the match is not exact enough by USPS standards to be considered a certain match.  In such cases your address will be unchanged but you will receive a "Nixie" code indicating this person possibly moved.  It is normally recommended you remove these from your mailings though there are situations where you would still mail them.  These situations include notification mailings required by law as well as incredible potential returns if the person is still there and responds.  If you mail these, you should mail them at the full first class rate.  Otherwise they may cause your entire mailing to be rejected by the USPS.

If I NCOA will that put an end to returned mail for me?

Unfortunately, you will still get returned mail.  There are many reasons for this but here are a few common ones:

  • The person moved but did not provide his change of address to the post office
  • The person's name in your list is spelled differently in the USPS database.
  • The person has a suffix such as "Jr" but it is missing in your list or the USPS database
  • There is a typo in the name or address in your list or the USPS database
  • The person's name is uni-sex and there is no gender info in your or the USPS database
  • The apartment number is missing or slightly different between the database
  • It takes about 6 months for a move to get into the USPS database so the move may not yet be in the database.
  • The person has made several moves - the USPS database links each move but due to various issues such as noted above, the link from one address to the next is broken.  Therefore, you do not get the most current move.
  • The address submitted for NCOA processing or the address that was provided to the USPS by the individual moving could not have a zip plus4 appended.  This can be due to an error in the address such as typos, transpositions, address formatting, etc.  If either address cannot get a plus4 appended your submitted address cannot be successfully NCOA'd.

On rare occasions you may find that the NCOA process indicates a person has moved but they didn't.  A common way this happens is when you have a family and one or more persons move but some are staying.  And, the person moving checks off the "family" move box instead of the "individual" move box on the USPS move form.  The result is that everyone with the same last name at the old address will be flagged as having moved and will be assigned the new address of the person(s) who moved.

What do I get back from the NCOA process?

All the records and information you provided will be returned to you.  In addition, you will also receive the zip plus4, delivery point and check digit so that you can create barcodes for the mailing.  You will also receive codes indicating the qualify of your address such as if your address exists in the USPS master file of deliverable addresses; or if it is missing the unit number, or the street exists but the street number does not.  

You will also receive "nixie" codes that indicate how the NCOA matching went such as:

  • If no match to the move database was found
  • If a match was found and the new address information is provided
  • If a match was found but the new address is not available.  Besides the corresponding nixie code your address will contain a brief comment as to the situation such as, "Moved No Forwarding", "Moved to Foreign Address", "PO Box Closed", etc. 
  • See our list of NCOA fields for a more complete listing and the codes that they may contain.

What is the NCOALink Processing Acknowledgement Form (PAF)?

The NCOALink Processing Acknowledgement Form often referred to as "PAF", is required by the USPS to be completed annually.  The information gathered is used by the USPS for internal purposes.