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NCOA Move-Update: 5 Things you Need to Know

NCOA Move Update 5 Things you Need to Know
But first, what is NCOA?

NCOA = National Change of Address 

NCOA is the database behind Canada Post’s move-update service called “Mail Forwarding”. Mail Forwarding redirects a customer’s physical mail to a new address when they move. The NCOA data is also made available to organizations who have a relationship with the customer, to update their records.

The NCOA database updating service is provided through a network of seven “Licensed Service Bureaus” and their reseller partners.

Canada Post obtains the move information from its customers who register and pay for its permanent “Mail Forwarding” service. Customers can redirect mail for everyone in the household, or only for certain individuals.

#1 – Is there a cost for customers to register?

Yes, unlike in the US where the United States Postal Service provides the service for free, Canada Post charges a fee. 

The cost of the service is $107.63 for 12-months or $71.19 for 4-months of service.¹ 

Because of the cost, some households choose not to purchase the service and aren’t in the NCOA database. Generally speaking, the more affluent and older the customer, the more likely they are to register and pay for the service. 

#2 – Can customers register, but not share their data?

Yes, when registering for Mail Forwarding, customers can choose not to have their new address information shared with 3rd parties.

By default, customers agree to the following:

“When you buy a Mail Forwarding for Moves service, with your permission, Canada Post will share your updated address information with companies who have an existing relationship with you and who are subscribed to our National Change of Address (NCOA™) Mover Data Service.” ²

Customers who decline to have their “updated” information shared are still included in the NCOA database, but only their name and prior address appear. Their new address is suppressed. These are reported as “Nixies” when the NCOA update process is completed (we know they moved, but not where). 

Approximately 25% of movers choose not to share their updated address. 

#3 – How far back does the NCOA database go?

Although Canada Post’s physical mail redirection service lasts only 12-months, the NCOA database includes a record of the move for 6 years. After 6 years, the data is purged from the NCOA database.

#4 – Who offers the NCOA move-update service?

There are seven³ licensed service bureaus authorized by Canada Post to host the NCOA database and provide the update service. Each service bureau has developed its own software for matching and updating that’s been tested and approved by Canada Post. Cleanlist is an authorized service bureau. 

Several other organizations offer the NCOA service (including mail houses, advertising agencies, printers, and data companies) through a relationship with one of the authorized service bureaus. It’s important to note that these resellers don’t host the NCOA database themselves, but instead transfer their client files to their partner for NCOA-updating.

#5 – What’s required to access the NCOA move-update service?

You’ll first need to choose a licensed service bureau or one of their resellers to work with. If choosing a reseller, be sure to ask which licensed service bureau they’ll be sending your data to. You want to ensure that the supplier(s) you chose meet your organization’s data security standards and provide you with an acceptable non-disclosure and confidentiality agreement. 

Next you’ll need to register your organization with Canada Post, accept the NCOA Mover Data Terms of Use agreement, and request a NCOA Terms-of-Use identification number (TOU ID). The TOU ID is required by the License Service Bureau who updates your list for reporting usage back to Canada Post. 

About Cleanlist’s NCOA Move-Update Service:

Cleanlist was Canada’s first NCOA-licensed service bureau and is the only service bureau in Canada that operates a SOC2-Type II security-certified data center.  It provides NCOA move-update services plus an extensive menu of additional data cleaning, updating, and enrichment services. Services are provided on a one-time basis, or under subscription for ongoing maintenance and automated processing. Cleanlist offers free data audits to determine the impact certain services, like NCOA, will have on your database. 

To learn more or to arrange for a data audit, contact a Cleanlist data consultant.

Cleanlist is Canada’s largest customer data company. We clean, enrich, and validate business and consumer data. We’re also experts in data-driven document composition and Canada’s largest data provider for digital and offline marketing. To learn more, visit us at

¹ – Pricing provided by Canada Post’s website on March 18, 2024. 

² – Opt-out clause wording obtained from Canada Post’s website on March 18, 2024.

³ – Licensed Service Bureau list provided on Canada Post’s website on March 18, 2024.

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