What Is NCOA?

At A Glance

There are two separate NCOA databases in North America. The Canada Post maintains an NCOA database to keep track of the 4 million Canadians who move every year. The United States Postal Service (USPS) maintains NCOA records for the 160 permanent changes in address requests that get filed. NCOA records in the United States and Canada are not connected — the two systems are separate.

In both countries, NCOA records are valuable for business intelligence purposes. Companies can use this data to increase their customers’ lifetime values while preventing failed deliveries. Mail forwarding services use NCOA records to identify and reach people and companies who have moved to a new address.

NCOA Overview

How It Works

NCOA databases equip senders with the latest and most up to date address details. This service enables re-engagement with active and lost customers, and reduces marketing waste created through non-delivery of mailings and parcels. Knowing a customer has recently moved may also result in additional cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.

An NCOA service companies a person’s name and address to an official NCOA record in the United States or Canada. This software is usually available as part of a more comprehensive suite of address verification solutions.

Address verification, also known as address validation, is a technical process for confirming the accuracy of postal information before a piece of mail gets sent. Data that someone enters into an online form can be checked against a dataset to validate that it is a real address.

Teams across an organization increasingly rely on data to verify customer identities, coordinate fulfilment with shipping and logistics partners, and provide insights for resource planning. An address verification program will ensure that data flows swiftly and accurately between relevant systems.

NCOA database checks are part of this coordinated effort.


When individuals move residences and businesses change locations, it is often difficult to update all of their potential mail senders that they have moved. As a result, companies end up sending marketing and administrative mailings to the wrong addresses. Efforts go wasted, and recipients miss out on getting valuable information. The United States Postal Service estimates that out of 40 million Americans who move every year, 8 percent of direct mail goes to waste.

In the United States, the NCOA is a USPS official database that helps improve delivery rates among people who have moved in the recent past. Every time a United States citizen moves and submits a change of address form to the local postal office, the change gets recorded in the NCOA database. The postal service keeps these records on file for 48 months.

NCOA databases are also valuable for identifying whether a location is vacant or invalid, to avoid sending mail to that address.

Canada Post

The Canada Post also maintains an NCOA database that it licenses to third parties for verification purposes. These third parties have built software based on requirements established by the Canada post.

NCOA Mover Data identifies movers in a customer database or mailing list using a combination of names and addresses. The software establishes matches by comparing NCOA records against a first name and last name and old address on file. 

Canada’s NCOA system has strict policies around the use of its data. For instance, a company needs to have an established relationship with a customer in order to update that record with Mover Data. 

A Business Relationship exists between a mover and an organization when an individual or business has:

  • Made a purchase or donation, rented, leased, contracted, or participated in an organization’s provision of products or services within the past 24 months; OR
  • Requested information or made an inquiry within the last 6 months.

NCOA data cannot be used for the following:

  • To enhance a database with new contacts’ names and addresses
  • To create movers’ lists in order for targeting
  • To update rental lists in which no relationship exists with the individual on file
  • To update financial databases or registries with regards to credit or collection activities
  • To verify mover information manually
  • To analyze statistical pattern- of movers
  • Toe purposes other than correcting mailing lists and developing address matching software for use with the NCOA database

Canada’s NCOA database includes 11 million mover records, covering a period of 6 years.


NCOA data helps companies maintain good record-keeping hygiene. Over time, it’s natural for customer records to deteriorate in their accuracy and quality. With NCOA data, businesses can avoid losing relationships with customers and prospects who change locations.

The benefits of applying NCOA data to customer records include:

  • Costs less than acquiring a new customer
  • Increases the number of mail pieces reaching their intended destination
  • Maximizes sales opportunities and increases response rates and ROI
  • Improves your relationship with your customer
  • Helps re-engage with lost or lapsed customers
  • Lowers postage, printing & mail preparation expenses

Up to date customer records are also valuable for business intelligence purposes. With clear insight into where people live, companies can create more precise and effective outreach campaigns across marketing and customer support activities.

Consistent address verification checks are important components to any businesses that reach customers in North America.

Loqate helps businesses around the world verify customer addresses by combining our global datasets with best in class technology. Our easy to integrate API helps our customers verify customer data at the point of capture. Find out more about how Loqate address verification solutions can help your business.