USPS Move Update Standard: What You Need to Know


Nearly 40 million people change their address every year, which means your mailing list can get inaccurate fast.

Keeping your mailing list current allows you to always reach your customers while reducing the loss of time, effort, and money due to undeliverable mail. By utilizing a move update service you can reduce the number of mail pieces that are forwarded or returned to sender. This can be done by matching your address records with the Change of Address (COA) orders that are maintained by the USPS.

Performing a move update is required for all mail that using a presorted or automated postage rate including:

  • First Class Mail
  • First Class Package Services
  • Parcel Select Lightweight
  • USPS Marketing Mail (formerly called Presort Standard Mail)

A mailer must update their mailing list within the 95 days prior to the mail date on the postage statement with one of the USPS-approved methods or a surcharge will be assessed.

To meet the move update requirement, mailers must use at least one of the USPS-approved methods listed below:

  1. National Change of Address Link (NCOA Link) - This is a USPS-approved pre-mailing address correction service that bounces your mailing list against the USPS NCOA database and returns updates to your mailing list along with your original mail list.
  2. National Change of Address Link Mail Processing Equipment (NCOA Link MPE) - This method uses Mail Processing Equipment (MPE) technology to match the printed address from a Mailpiece against the NCOA Database and will spray on an updated delivery point IMB barcode in the barcode clear zone on your mail piece.
  3. Ancillary Service Endorsements (ASE) - This allows mailers to receive change of address information via a hardcopy notice provided by the USPS. This is a post-mailing service so you will not receive the updates until after the mail has been attempted to be delivered. Mailers must print an endorsement on a mail piece and depending on the endorsement, the USPS will handle the change of address mail in a number of different ways:
    1. Address Service Requested
    2. Return Service Requested
    3. Change Service Requested – For first class mail, this endorsement cannot be used as a stand-alone method to comply with move update. You will need to use another of the methods discussed in this blog.
    4. Temp-Return Service Requested – For Standard Mail, this endorsement is not available.
  4. Address Change Service (ACS) - This is another post-mailing correction service that allows mailers to receive change of address information and other reasons for non-delivery electronically. The four ACS options are:
    1. Traditional ACS
    2. OneCode ACS
    3. Full-Service ASC - A free service for Full-Service Mailers
    4. Intelligent Mail Package Barcode (IMpb)

A few of exceptions are available to avoid the move update requirements. They are using a Simplified Address, an Occupant Address or an Exceptional Address. Here is an example of each:

  • Simplified address is a mail piece addressed to Postal Customer, Residential Customer or Business Customer.
  • An Occupant Address is a mail piece addressed to Occupant, Householder or Resident.
  • Exceptional addresses are addressed to “Jane Doe or Current Resident” and “Jane Doe or Current Occupant."

99% Accuracy - If a mailer can show that they have a highly-effective method of keeping their addresses current they may qualify for this this service. The mailer must obtain an approval letter from the post office's National Customer Support Center to be eligible for this alternative method of change of address.

The last alternative is Legal Restraint where a legal restriction prevents mailers from updating the customers address without direct contact from the customer. They can then be authorized to use the Legal Restraint Method. An example could be a requirement for protected health information like found in the HIPAA privacy laws for medical mailings.

In a second blog, I discuss the Address Quality Census Measurement and Assessment Process (AQCMAP) and Green & Secure ACS. Read it here.

About the author

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Rob Hanks

Rob Hanks

Rob Hanks is a inside sales representative at Suttle-Straus and has more than 25 years of experience in direct mail. Rob is a Certified Direct Mail Professional and a Certified Mailpiece Design Professional though the United States Postal Service and serves as the Industry Co-Chairperson for the Greater Madison Area Postal Customer Council. Rob enjoys the challenges of mailpiece design within postal regulations and helping clients save on postage costs.
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Topics: Direct Mail