Ever moved and realized how many places need your new address? That’s where National Change of Address (NCOA) comes in handy. It’s a lifesaver for ensuring your mail follows you to your new home without a hitch.

In this article, you’ll jump into the ins and outs of NCOA, from how it works to why it’s crucial for both individuals and businesses. Don’t let a move disrupt your mail flow—stay ahead with the essential knowledge you’ll gain here.

What is the National Change of Address (NCOA)?


When you find yourself in the middle of a big move, it’s the National Change of Address (NCOA) service that becomes your unsung hero. In a nutshell, NCOA is a database maintained by the United States Postal Service (USPS) that contains the change-of-address records for individuals, families, and businesses. Think of it as a massive, continuously updated ledger that ensures your mail moves with you, not to your old address where you’re no longer available to receive it.


The main goal of NCOA is simple but vital: it’s there to streamline the address change process. Here’s what it aims to do:

  • Reduce undeliverable mail by keeping track of address changes.
  • Ensure timely delivery of your parcels and letters, so you don’t miss out on important documents.
  • Minimize the cost and wasted effort involved in sending mail to outdated addresses for businesses.
  • Provide a smooth transition for both senders and receivers during the change-of-address process.

By using NCOA, you’re making sure your transition to a new place is without mail-related hiccups, which could easily throw a wrench into your busy life.


Why give NCOA the time of day? Consider these points:

  • Accuracy: Misdirected mail isn’t just a nuisance, it’s a threat to your privacy and can lead to lost opportunities.
  • Efficiency: For businesses, sending mail to the correct address the first time around means saved time and resources.
  • Consistency: Even during a move, you’ll continue to get your subscriptions, invoices, and correspondences without a gap.

For B2C business owners, marketers, and sales teams, NCOA is particularly critical. It helps maintain a clean customer database, ensuring that marketing materials, product shipments, and important notifications reach your clients without delay. Remember, a lost piece of mail could mean a lost customer – and that’s the last thing you’d want.

How Does NCOA Work?

Data Sources

The first step in the NCOA process involves collecting data from a variety of reliable sources. You might be surprised to learn that the USPS’s NCOA database is not only populated with information directly from change-of-address forms. Here’s where the USPS gets its data:

  • Individual submissions: When people move and submit a change-of-address form, this primary data source ensures user-initiated updates.
  • Family changes: Forms that indicate an entire family’s relocation contribute to the dataset.
  • Business relocations: Just like individuals, businesses submit their new information when they move.
  • Third-party sources: Trusted partners provide additional updates that might include public records and other data collection methods.

By tapping into these expansive data resources, the NCOA service helps you rest assured that the information you’re accessing is up to date and comprehensive. This data-gathering phase is crucial for keeping the NCOA database accurate and reflective of the latest changes across the country.

Matching Process

Your understanding of the NCOA service hinges on knowing how USPS matches user records with its database. The matching process includes several steps:

  1. Identification: Your list of addresses is cross-referenced against the NCOA database to find matches.
  2. Analysis: Each record is carefully analyzed to determine if it correlates with a new address.
  3. Update initiation: When a match is identified, the process of updating the record with the new address begins.
  4. Confirmation: To maintain data integrity, every update is checked and confirmed.

During this procedure, both exact and near matches are considered to ensure that even when there’s a minor discrepancy in the address details, the match isn’t overlooked.

Proprietary Algorithms

Proprietary algorithms are what make the NCOA service stand out. These sophisticated pieces of technology are designed to do the heavy lifting, sorting through millions of data points with incredible speed and accuracy. Here’s what these algorithms handle:

  • Address standardization: They ensure that addresses conform to USPS formatting standards.
  • Error correction: Common entry mistakes are identified and corrected autonomously.
  • Data linkage: Algorithms link old and new addresses, even when full information isn’t provided.

A noteworthy aspect of these algorithms is their continuous evolution. As the USPS encounters new types of address changes and patterns, the algorithms adapt, learn, and become more efficient. This is the cutting-edge innovation that keeps businesses like yours connected with customers, no matter where they relocate.

Benefits of NCOA

Improved Mail Delivery

When you’re sending out mail, the last thing you want is for it to end up undeliverable or at the wrong address. With NCOA, that’s less likely to happen. This service ensures your mail reaches your customers by updating addresses before items are even dispatched. It streamlines the delivery process by removing the guesswork from address verification. Expect these improvements:

  • Fewer mail returns, which means less waste and frustration
  • Delivery to the correct recipient on the first try
  • An updated database that continually refreshes with the latest information

Direct mail campaigns benefit tremendously, reaching their intended audience more effectively. Plus, you reduce the risk of sending sensitive information to outdated addresses, maintaining privacy and security.

Cost Savings

Ineffective mailing strategies can be a financial drain. Fortunately, the NCOA service helps you cut down unnecessary expenses. Here’s how:

  1. Reduces postage and material costs by avoiding returned and undelivered mail
  2. Eliminates the need for manual address corrections
  3. Minimizes the need for follow-up contacts and reshipments

By maintaining an accurate mailing list, you’re not only ensuring better delivery rates but also preserving your bottom line. It’s all about getting it right the first time, saving both time and money – resources better invested elsewhere in your business.

Enhanced Customer Service

Your customers expect a seamless experience, and accurate mail delivery is a big part of that. NCOA plays a vital role in enhancing customer satisfaction by:

  • Ensuring timely delivery of bills, products, and promotional materials
  • Maintaining consistent communication, even when your customers move
  • Displaying your commitment to customer convenience and attention to detail

Remember, a happy customer is a loyal customer. With NCOA, you’re not just updating addresses; you’re building trust and fostering a positive image of your brand that encourages repeat business.

NCOA for Businesses

Marketing Campaigns

With NCOA integrated into your strategy, your marketing campaigns become sharper and more effective. Direct mail remains a powerful tool in your arsenal, and ensuring accuracy is key for outstanding ROI. Here’s how NCOA services elevate your marketing game:

  • Target accuracy: Your promotional materials land right where they’re supposed to, in the hands of interested prospects.
  • Cost-effectiveness: By avoiding resends, you’re not just saving on postage; you’re cutting down on print costs and labor.
  • Data insights: Updated addresses provide insights into customer relocation trends, helping you tailor future campaigns.

Picture this: your catalogs and brochures reaching the intended mailbox, triggering responses that lead to conversions. With NCOA, that’s exactly what you’ll achieve.

Customer Data Management

Maintaining an updated database is a cornerstone of customer relations. NCOA services streamline your data management in several critical ways:

  1. Ensure data hygiene by regularly scrubbing your customer list against the NCOA database.
  2. Decrease the chance of data decay, a common issue where customer information becomes obsolete over time.
  3. Bolster customer satisfaction—people love it when brands show diligence in keeping up with their life changes.

Remember, accurate customer data is invaluable. It drives personalized interactions and fosters loyalty—a direct line to increasing your bottom line.

Compliance with USPS Regulations

Staying on the right side of USPS regulations isn’t just good practice; it’s a mandate. By incorporating NCOA into your processes, you’re aligning with postal requirements that dictate:

  • Timely updates: Frequent address verification keeps you compliant with USPS Move Update standards.
  • Reduced undeliverable mail: Compliance cuts down on the environmental impact—and the USPS takes note.
  • Enhanced deliverability: This stamps you as a reputable business in the eyes of both the USPS and your customers.

Adhering to these regulations shows that you’re serious about your business and respectful of the frameworks set by the USPS—a significant trust signal for everyone involved.

NCOA for Individuals

Personal Mailings

You’re meticulous when it comes to sending out personal mailings for your business — whether it’s direct mail campaigns, catalogs, or holiday greeting cards. You understand that your customer’s mailbox is a direct line to their attention. The USPS’s National Change of Address service ensures each piece of mail reaches its intended recipient, even if they’ve recently relocated. Not only does this mean less waste for the environment, but it also spells out increased engagement and potentially, more sales for you.

Address Updates

Staying on top of address changes can be a cumbersome task, but the NCOA service simplifies that. When individuals move and report their change of address, the NCOA system automatically updates the information in the USPS database. This is crucial for maintaining robust customer data. By leveraging NCOA, you eliminate the guesswork and ensure everything from invoices to discount offers lands exactly where it should, not at an outdated address.

  • Keep customer profiles accurate
  • Reduce the frustration of lost shipments
  • Enhance the likelihood of repeat business by demonstrating attention to detail

Forwarded Mail

Even when your customers don’t inform you of their move, you can rest assured knowing the NCOA covers your back. Mail is forwarded to their new address for a specified period, meaning you won’t lose touch with your customer base. When they realize you’re still reaching out even though they’ve moved, your customers will appreciate the extra effort you go through to stay connected. It’s an effortless way to maintain and grow customer relationships, as well as a good practice to uphold your reputation as a business that cares.

Embracing the NCOA service is a smart move for both individuals and businesses aiming to streamline their mailing processes. You’ll experience fewer frustrations with undelivered mail and enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing your communications will reach their intended destinations. For businesses, the integration of NCOA into your operations using the Accurate Append API  is a game-changer by improving the precision of your marketing efforts.

Leveraging NCOA is not just about efficiency; it’s about building and maintaining trust. When your customers see that you’re invested in getting every detail right, including the simple act of sending mail accurately, they’re more likely to stay loyal. So take the step to incorporate NCOA into your routine and watch as it transforms your mailing strategy into a seamless, cost-effective system that delights your customers and bolsters your bottom line.

Transform your mailing campaigns with Accurate Append’s API solution, ensuring accurate and timely delivery of communications using NCOA’s precision – contact us today.