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NCOALink vs Address Change Service: How to Choose

Although NCOALink® and Address Change Service (ACS), are both Change-of-Address (COA) services maintained by the USPS®, each one serves a different purpose and can provide different results.

The USPS recommends “to use NCOALink  prior to the mailing and ACS to pick up the additional moves and the reasons for nondelivery other than a move.” It is possible for a COA to never match using NCOALink, which can happen due to various reasons, making ACS an important step in data cleansing.

The matching logic also differs between these two processes. According to the USPS, “name and address matching rules are strict when processing a mailing list through NCOALink so if the name or address on your list does not meet the strict rules defined, or if the COA was submitted after the most recent product update, it will not update the list. The match rate runs from 70 to 80 percent of the possible moves. The matching logic is controlled by USPS regulations and is designed to prevent mismatches.”

Still, there are many benefits to using NCOALink processing:

  • It meets Move Update requirements for first-time lists to qualify for discounted First-Class Mail® and Standard Mail®
  • Addresses are updated prior to the mailing, reducing return mail and/or forwarding delays
  • Strict matching rules ensure accuracy of updates being provided

ACS supplies COA information after the mailing. It is meant to be used as a secondary Move Update source. Also, “ACS notices are detected and generated by one of two basic methods – via automated equipment and process, or as the result of Carrier identification.” Please refer to this month's other eBulletin article Address Change Service Explained and/or MTAC – Best Practices for ACS, for further information on this process.

If you have any further questions, please call Data Marketing Services at 1.800.337.0372.