Meeting USPS Requirements for NCOA Live Change-of-Address Processing
Every year, over 40 million people in the United States move and change their addresses with the US Postal Service. Keeping your contact data assets up-to-date with these changes can lead to substantial cost savings for your marketing and customer contact activities, including:
- Qualifying for lower mailing rates for Standard and First Class mail
- Meeting the USPS Move Update requirement for Marketing Mail
- Reducing the costs of sending mail to bad addresses
- Improving deliverability by up to 400%
Perhaps most important of all, when you automate your change-of-address processing with Service Objects’ DOTS NCOA Live product, your addresses are automatically standardized and corrected BEFORE being processed for change-of-address, resulting in much higher match rates.
However, because the USPS has very specific rules in place for the use of its NCOA services by end-users, there is some assembly required for using our NCOA Live service compared with most of our automated data quality services. This article is designed to walk you through these steps, as well as show you how we can help.
1) Sign a PAF form
What is a PAF? It stands for Processing Acknowledgement Form – a form required by USPS before you can access their NCOA database (including through our software). This step is pretty straightforward, and it provides accountability for who is accessing the USPS’s change-of-address data.
A link to a copy of this form can be found here. Note that you must list a full ZIP+4 code for your business, as well as, a NAICS business code. This form gets sent to us, and in turn we provide a copy to our NCOA licensee, who must keep it on file for the USPS. It also must be updated once a year.
2) Set up a JobID for each week
Every week, the USPS requires setting up an open JobID, which keeps track of the change-of-address lookups that you run. Opening a new JobID requires the following:
- Building an array of 100-500 addresses (a minimum of 100 addresses are required to create the initial job)
- Creating a personalized JobID, which is an alpha-numeric string of up to 50 characters
- Our recommended format, like, SO20190114163904, is discussed in detail here.
- Submitting the addresses, JobID, and license key to the “RunNCOA Live” operation
Each new JobID remains valid for one week, expiring at 11:50 pm Sunday evening. Once you’ve set it up for the week and done your initial run, subsequent runs can be anywhere from 1 to 500 records.
At the end of the week, this JobID closes, and the USPS updates their internal change-of-address data that powers our service. The following week, another NCOA Live operation can be initiated with a new JobID following the steps listed above.
Sound a little involved? Don’t worry: we’ll help you set this up and maintain it going forward. Just contact our technical team and we’ll be happy to help.
3) Plan ahead for bigger runs
As we mentioned above, your first request for NCOA Live each week must have a minimum of 100 records, and after that, each subsequent request can be for any number of records up to 500. But what if you have a lot more to process?
This situation brings up another advantage of working with NCOA Live: this service can be used to set up parallel requests for your larger jobs. Here as well, talk with our friendly technical team and we’ll walk you through the process.
A little planning can create a large benefit
As you can see, there are a few steps involved in using our NCOA Live so that you are meeting the USPS’s requirements for automated change of address processing. But once you get set up, the cost savings in lower postage rates, improved deliverability and fewer bad mailing addresses can really add up quickly.
Have no fear – we are experts at this and will help you through the entire set up process. It is what we do!