NCOALink® (NCOA / National Change-of-Address) Increase Deliverability Quotient with Change-of-Address Service
Bell and Howell, LLC is a non-exclusive Licensee of the USPS® (United States Postal Service®) to provide Full and Limited Service NCOALink® processing.
It is important to note that not all Service Providers can offer the same level of service. Data quantity differs based on license level. Full Service Providers receive te full 48-month data set while Limited Service Providers receive an 18-month data set. All data fulfillments to Service Providers are provided weekly under direct license from the USPS.
The full NCOALink file is a consolidated file of move information that on average contains approximately 160 million permanent changes-of-address (COAs) filed with the United States Postal Service (USPS). These COAs are retained on the file for a four-year period from the move-effective date and the file is updated weekly.
Before being added to the NCOALink file, the Old address supplied by the Postal customer must be ZIP + 4® coded. The New addresses must be ZIP + 4 coded and validated using the USPS’ proprietary database of actual delivery points. (NOTE: The delivery point database does not include NAMES or COA information.) Each delivery point confirmed New address is included on the NCOALink file. If unable to validate the New address, the NCOALink process will indicate that a move exists but will not provide the undeliverable New address.
New address information is provided only when a match to the input name and address is attained. The typical profile of the New address information contained on the NCOALink file is as follows:
80.92% Forwardable moves containing delivery point confirmed New addresses – New address provided
1.18% Moves containing unconfirmed New addresses – New address not provided
13.80% Moved, left no address
3.92% PO Box Closed
0.18% Foreign moves
When possible, postal customers who move multiple times within the NCOALink time period are “linked” or “chained” to ensure that the latest address is furnished when an NCOALink match is attained. This is not always possible if subsequent COAs are not filed in exactly the same manner as a COA filed previously (e.g., name spelling differences or conflicting secondary information).
The provision of change of address information is controlled by strict name and address matching logic. NCOALink processing will only provide new address information when queried with a specific algorithm of the name and input address from a mailers address list which matches the information on the NCOALink Product. Data contained in and information returned by NCOALink is determined by the name and move type (Business, Individual, or Family) indicated on a Postal Customer’s Change of Address form.
The data contained within the NCOALink Product is comprised of approximately 40% family moves, 54% individual moves, and 6% business moves.
All matches made to the NCOALink file require a ZIP + 4 coded, parsed input address.
The five types of processing modes are Standard (S); Business and Individual (C); Individual (I); Business (B); and Residential (R).
Standard Processing Mode (S)
- Standard Processing Mode requires inquiries in the following order:
- Business – Match on business name.
- Individual – Match on first name, middle name, surname and title required. Gender is checked and nickname possibilities are considered.
- Family – Match on surname only.
- Under no circumstances shall there be a “Family” match only option.
Business and Individual Processing Mode (C)
- The NCOALink customer may choose to omit all “Family” match inquiries and allow only “Individual” and “Business” matches to be acceptable. This matching process is also known as C Processing Mode.
Individual Processing Mode (I)
- The NCOALink customer may also choose to omit “Business” match inquiries when processing individual names for mailing lists that contain no business addresses.
Business Processing Mode (B)
- The NCOALink customer may choose to process for only “Business” matches when processing a “Business-to-Business” mailing list which contains no residential (Individual or Family) addresses.
Residential Processing Mode (R)
- The NCOALink customer may choose to omit “Business” match inquiries and allow only “Individual” and “Family” matches to be acceptable under Residential Processing Mode. This matching process is also known as R Processing Mode.
The USPS has opted to remove soundex from the matching logic process. Consequently, the USPS has established a process called the “Rules Table.” This process will produce matches that otherwise would not be possible, i.e. JOHNY and JOHNNY, without the risks associated with soundex.
All nickname possibilities are derived from a standard USPS nickname list. In considering alternate presentations of an input name, only reasonable derivatives of the original input name are acceptable. If an input name and address do not match to NCOALink and alternative queries are attempted, any variations which obtain NCOALink matches will be provided to the NCOALink customer for analysis.
When a match or a near match of an input name and address to NCOALink is identified, a standard NCOALink return code is provided indicating the type of match made or reason that a match could not be made.
The standard output of a USPS NCOALink process is:
- Each original unaltered input name and address as it was presented.
- The standardized input address appended with the correct ZIP + 4/DPC, other postal values and any other intelligence flags or footnotes that result from the CASS™ processing segment.
- For each mailing address for which there is a match to the NCOALink Product, a standardized new address with 11-digit Delivery Point Barcode (DPBC) and standard return codes.
- When a match is made, the following elements must be returned: the move effective date, the specific name and address utilized in the query that obtained the match, and the move type. The move type is determined by the Interface based on the specific name inquiry utilized to obtain the match.
- For each mailing address for which there is not a match to the NCOALink Product, the Interface shall return all elements as appropriate under items a and b as well as any standard return codes as may be appropriate.
- The urbanization name information, when applicable.
- The carrier route information for new (updated) addresses.
- DPV® results for the input address, if requested.
- LACSLink® results, if requested.
- SuiteLink™ results, if requested.
- Processing summary report containing information to identify the specific list and the statistics resulting from the NCOALink process performed on the list.
Although every record must be returned, the format of the records returned by a Service Provider to their clients is determined by a separate agreement between the processor and the customer.
NCOALink processing has the potential to reduce returned mail, yet the USPS does not make any guarantees, express or implied, on the reduction of such mail. Thus any costs associated with returned mail are the Licensees’ and/or their customers’ sole responsibility.
An NCOALink customer with questions about the specific results returned from an NCOALink process must first contact the processor for explanation and resolution.
Prior to the processing of NCOALink data, every customer must have completed and returned to their NCOALink Licensee the “NCOALink PROCESSING ACKNOWLEDGEMENT FORM” provided to them by their Licensee or Agent. It is inappropriate to misrepresent any of the information on the form. Punitive action will be taken by the USPS if the customer, agent or licensee is found to have knowingly supplied false information. Depending on the severity of the offense, actions may include litigious or even criminal charges being brought against the offender.
The ANKLink® option is available through Limited Service Provider Licensees to enable mailers to make informed choices regarding a specific customer contact. If the data indicates a move, the mailer may choose to suppress the record from their list or attempt to determine the actual new address by engaging the services of an NCOALink Full Service Provider (FSP) Licensee.
Mailers choosing to engage the services of an FSP Licensee may submit only those ANKLink matches for which they need additional processing provided that:
- The mailer informs the FSP Licensee that the list is derived from a prior ANKLink process.
- The list submitted to the FSP for processing meets the mailing list requirement of at least 100 unique names and addresses.
- The final results are incorporated back into the original list.
- The records separated for processing are not used to create a derivative product.
The following trademarks are owned by the United States Postal Service®: ANKLink, CASS, NCOALink, DPV, LACSLink, SuiteLink, United States Postal Service, USPS and ZIP + 4.