For each order, NCA Search mails a postcard via USPS First Class mail. We mail postcards in bulk Monday-Friday which provides same business day access to forwarding addresses from the USPS National Change of Address (NCOA) and Proprietary Change of Address (PCOA) databases. Once the postcard is mailed, we again request a forwarding address and any carrier-based knowledge of the address via the USPS ACS system.
What are NCOA, PCOA and ACS?
NCOA is the USPS National Change of Address database. It consists of 160 million permanent Change of Address records for individuals, families and businesses in the United States, spanning a 48 month period.
PCOA stands for Proprietary Change of Address database. It consists of 25 million permanent Change of Address records for individuals only. It is a collective of private sources, such as credit card companies, mail order buyers and magazine publishers. These companies may receive change of address notifications that are not reported to USPS.
ACS is the USPS post-mailing, mail forwarding system. With this system, First Class mail is forwarded by scanning and searching the name and address against 18 months of NCOA. This system also gives access to move data not found in NCOA. Via ACS, carriers can report back vacant addresses, personal knowledge of moves and other reasons why a mail piece cannot be delivered as addressed. This system can also report back temporary moves and foreign addresses, where NCOA cannot.
What is the turnaround time for order results?
Orders must be placed by 1:00 PM EST (M-F) to receive pre-mailing search results
the same day. Orders are typically updated with pre-mailing results by 1:30 PM EST
(M-F). Orders are not processed over the weekend. Forwarding addresses discovered
via ACS are typically returned by 10:00 AM two days after the order was placed.
Carrier feedback, such as "vacant" or "does not reside" are typically returned 5-10
days after the order was placed. If no ACS record is returned after 15 days from
the day the order is placed, the ACS search is completed as No Record Found and the
order is closed.
Why is a postcard mailed and what is on the postcard?
A postcard is mailed to be compliant with postal regulations. The artwork on the postcard is a positive social message, such as adopt a kitten or puppy or awareness of the harmful effects of street drugs.
Placing an Order and Limitations of Searches
How do I place an order?
Placing an order is a two-step process. Enter the subject's name and last known mailing address. Click Verify Address. The Place Order button will become active only if there is a subject name and the input address could be verified and zip+4 coded. Orders cannot be placed for an address that cannot be zip+4 coded. Our address verification system will note if the input primary address (ex. 123 Main St) cannot be verified or is out of range or if a secondary address (ex. Apt 198) is needed or is out of range. In some instances, if the primary address can be zip+4 coded, this is considered a valid address and an order can be placed, even if a secondary address is needed or is out of range. If the address is in doubt, we recommend verifying it with a second data source, such as a credit header report. Reference Number is your internal reference and is an optional field.
Is there any search logic I need to be aware of?
USPS uses conservative matching logic for both name and address. Our address verification system handles verifying and standardizing the address. For Individual type moves, both the first and last name must match. First name variations are taken into account. Examples are Johnny/John, Bill/William and Jimmy/James. For Family type moves, only the last name is required to match.
Does NCOA include Change of Addresses for businesses?
Are there places from where a forwarding address cannot be provided?
Yes. USPS does not accept and therefore cannot provide Change of Address information for colleges/universities, military bases, individuals within a business, and other single point deliveries, including but not limited to Commercial Mailbox Receiving Agencies (CMRA), prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, fraternity/sorority houses and APO/FPO.
Can I obtain a forwarding address from the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and other
inhabited US territories?
USPS does provide Change of Addresses from these areas, however due to a lack of need and often non-standard addressing, NCA Search is not designed to provide Change of Address data from these areas.
Can I obtain a forwarding address from a Rural Route/Box?
Yes. Our address verification system can convert a Rural Route/Box address to a street-style address which can then be used to place an order. Renumbered streets and PO Boxes can also be converted to their newly assigned numbers.
Can a forwarding address be a foreign address?
Pre-mailing NCOA does not provide foreign Change of Addresses. Post-mailing ACS can provide a foreign Change of Address if the addressee provides that data to USPS.
Can a temporary Change of Address be provided?
No. Post-mailing ACS will only identify if someone is temporally forwarding their mail. The forwarding address is not provided.
Billing and Rates
When am I billed and what are the billing rates?
For each order placed, there are two searches conducted. NCA Search DOES NOT bill both
searches. We bill the better result of the two. We bill out on the first day of each
month for all searches that were completed for the previous month and the monthly
administrative fee. Our fee schedule is detailed below.
NCOA-Change of Address Provided
ACS-Change of Address Provided
PCOA-Change of Address Provided
NCOA-Moved, Left No Address
ACS-Moved, Left No Address
PCOA- Moved, Left No Address
NCOA-COA Found, Unable to Match
ACS-Unable to Deliver as Addressed
NCOA-No Record Found
ACS-No Record Found
Monthly administrative fee is 1.50. The first monthly administrative fee is waived.
You can discontinue the service at any time. There are no contractual obligations.
Suspended Accounts, Inactive Accounts and Closing and Account
How is a suspended account made active?
An account will be moved to suspended status if the customer's payment card cannot be charged. While in suspended status, a customer may login and view orders that have been placed but cannot place new orders. Only an active account can place orders. A new payment card will need to be entered under Account >Billing. Once validated, the account status will change to active and orders can be placed. The previous balance will be billed at the next billing cycle.
How is an inactive account made active?
An account will be moved to inactive status if it remains in suspended status for a period of four consecutive months, at which point no further charges are incurred. To move an inactive account to active status, customer support must be contacted.
How do I close an account?
To close an account, customer support needs to be contacted. The account will be closed pending an unpaid balance which is billed at the end of that billing cycle, after which, no further charges will be incurred.