NCOALink (National Change of Address) and ACS (Address Change Service) are both change of address services provided by the United States Postal Service. Each of these services provide change of address information, however each has a different purpose and may provide different results.
Process with NCOA prior to mailing.
NCOALink or NCOA is a data set containing approximately 160 million permanent change-of-address records filed with the USPS in the last 48 months. This list consists of names and addresses of individuals, families, and businesses who have filed a change of address.
The USPS recommends processing with NCOA prior to a mailing. To qualify for non-profit and bulk mail discounts, mailers must meet the United States Postal Service’s Move Update Standard. This standard requires mailers who claim presorted or automation prices for First-Class Mail or Standard Mail service to demonstrate that they have updated their mailing list within 95 days before the mailing date.
Because the matching logic for NCOA is more strict, it is possible that some records will not be updated if they do not meet these more strict matching rules.
Find additional moves and reasons for non-delivery after a mailing with ACS
ACS provides change of address information and additional non-delivery information after you have mailed. ACS notifications are either generated electronically via an automated USPS process or manually by the mail carrier.
While ACS is considered free for full service mailing, additional fees may be incurred if the particular service requires returning mail pieces.
The matching logic for this service is not as strict as NCOA. As a result, it may find additional moves not identified via the NCOA process. However, these moves are identified after printing and mailing costs have been incurred and may include addtional fees depending on the specific ACS service.
Please note that TrueNCOA does not provide ACS services. ACS is provided by the USPS.
You can read more about creating Intelligent Mial Barcodes required for ACS here.
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