Understanding National Change of Address & Other Move Update Services

Correcting out-of-date addresses using NCOALink and other methods allows mailers to meet the USPS Move Update requirement.

Bad addresses are costing businesses millions. More than 43 million Americans move each year, and outdated address lists can label a letter or bill, package or flat as undelivered as addressed (UAA).

If too many addresses are UAA, the mailer and its mail house can be liable for financial penalties, and suffer from poor customer communications and marketing effectiveness, lagging account receivables, and fewer sales.

Mailers or their service provider can avoid these problems by checking a mailing list against the US Postal Service’s National Change of Address (NCOALink) database. This will verify that a recipient on a mailing list has filed a change of address notice with the USPS within the previous 18 months, and will note the new address as well if it is available.

NCOALink is not the only method of updating moved recipients. Other methods provided by the USPS include Address Change Service (ACS), Address Service Requested, Change Service Requested, and Return Service Requested.

Why is NCOA, Other Move Update Services Important?

Correcting out-of-date addresses using NCOALink and other methods allows mailers to meet the USPS Move Update requirement for a 95-day period from the date of processing, ensuring that they qualify for First Class and Standard Mail discounts. Move Update is required for all marketing mail, First Class presort letters and flats, and Parcel Select Lightweight.

The costs associated with undeliverable mail can be severe. The Postal Service leverages its Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) technology to check every single address a mailer submits in bulk for accuracy. If only 0.5 percent of addresses are faulty, failing to mirror Postal Services change of address (COA) records beyond a certain cutoff point, the mailer can be charged an 8-cent fee on each bad address. The potential for thousands of dollars in penalties due to out-of-date mailing lists is very real.

What Other Methods Address The Recent-Move Challenge?

  • The Postal Service's ACS service allows customers mailing First-Class Mail, Standard Mail, and Periodical flats or letters to receive electronic or automated address corrections using the Intelligent Mail barcode. This allows for the USPS to forward mail or notify mailers of a Change of Address (COA), provided the addressee submitted a change of address request with the Postal Service. 
  • Address Service Requested for U.S. mail means a piece of mail is forwarded, with no charge, and a separate notice of a new address is provided to the sender for a fee. This occurs for up to a year if a forwarding address is on file with the Postal Service. 
  • Change Service Requested provides address correction services without forwarding or return. If undeliverable, either the new address or the reason it is undeliverable is provided to the sender. 
  • Return Service Requested provides address correction services and always returns the piece. 

Why Use Melissa's Move Update, Address Verification Services?

 When you use Melissa’s NCOA service, we will update the addresses of customers that have moved before your mail goes out. Melissa will match your list against the full USPS NCOALink dataset of approximately 160 million moves on file over the last 48 months, or alternately over the past 24 months. As a NCOA Full Service Provider, Melissa guarantees the lowest price for your service.

Using Melissa’s NCOA services, you can:

  • Stay in touch with moving customers to reduce undeliverable mail costs. 
  • Meet the USPS Move Update requirement for First Class and Standard Mail discounts.
  • Allow for batch processing or Automated FTP for high volume users. 

Melissa’s SmartMover cloud service provides fast, easy change-of-address processing for U.S. and international addresses that are accurate in real time. With SmartMover, direct mailers can be assured of staying on the right side of the Postal Service’s Move Update and COA regulations, while increasing customer lifetime value and mailing ROI.

For marketing and other purposes, Melissa also offers New Movers Mailing Lists. New movers, whether they're renters or homeowners, spend more on home-related goods and services in the first three months than non-movers spend in five years. Melissa adds more than 100,000 records to our new movers database every week, so you can confidently build your mailing list and take advantage of this window of opportunity with the freshest, most targeted data available. In addition, Melissa offers the following services for the highest level of address verification and completion:

  • Melissa’s Address Verification Service verifies addresses in the U.S. and worldwide in real-time. This produces complete, standardized, and accurate USPS addresses while correcting errors and adding in missing components like postal codes.
  • Melissa’s Personator cleans, verifies, standardizes, and completes names and addresses (as well as phone numbers and emails), matching names to addresses to authenticate the identity of a customer.

Melissa's GovCloud Address Suite is FedRAMP (Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program) authorized for address verification and 48-month USPS NCOA processing. 

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