NCOA is short for National Change of Address, which is a database that keeps track of individual and businesses when they relocate.
When an individual or business moves they usually notify their local post office of their change of address. The notice is forwarded to the National Change of Address database to update their records. But who's going to tell everyone who sends mail to the old address that they should now send to the new address? Most don't update their mailing list of the change of address. This mail does get forwarded to the new address for a period of time but when that time expires, the mail is considered Undeliverable As Addressed.
Which is why NCOA is such a valuable tool.
As an NCOALink provider we pay a licensing fee to access the National Change of Address database.
This license allows us to update our clients mailings list before addressing and delivering their mailing. This saves clients a lot of money as we can update addresses and make decisions with addresses that are no longer current or have moved out of the area.
We provide our clients with an NCOA report with each update (in the form of a PDF) and an updated list for our clients (in Excel or CSV format) to help them keep their database current.
NCOA can be confused with ACS, Ancillary Service Endorsements (Address Service Requested, Change Service Requested, Forwarding Service Requested, Return Service Requested, etc.)
NCOA is the most proactive, cost effective method because the mailing list is updated BEFORE it enters the mail stream. Ancillary Service Endorsements are corrected AFTER mail has been determined to be undeliverable. Additional postage and handling fees are charged for the return of pieces with corrected addresses, and that get's expensive.
We recommend NCOA as it is faster and less expensive to maintain a clean mailing list.
When NCOA reveals a high number of un-locatable addresses we'll discuss options for updating the address list in order to provide the best possible return on investment.
Sometimes we'll add a generic line, such as "or current resident" if the mail piece is intended for a local addressee. It might be advisable to remove the client completely from the database.
NCOA makes it easier than ever to keep a clean, up to date mailing list, which is why it is now a USPS requirement. All mailing lists must be updated every 95 days in order to comply with US Postal regulations.