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What is NCOA?

What is NCOA-21

First off, what is NCOA? NCOA is the National Change Of Address. This database keeps track of the permanent address changes for an individual, family, or business. In North America, there are two databases for NCOA; Canada Post, and the United States Postal Service (USPS). Both of these databases track the permanent address changes for their respective countries. Although these databases track and store the same type of information, they are separate.

NCOA is valuable information for businesses as it is costly to target households only to find out that the occupant(s) you are targeting no longer live there. This is not only costly to the business because they have spent money to send marketing material to the incorrect occupant, but also because they risk losing a current customer. This is why it is so important for companies to ensure their databases are up-to-date and regularly maintained.

How NCOA Works

NCOA databases provide senders with the most up-to-date address information and details. For companies, this allows them to re-engage with existing customers to increase their lifetime value as well as reach lost customers with the hopes of them returning. Not to mention reducing waste and budget on sending marketing material to the wrong person and having their message wasted. Depending on the industry and offering of that company, this may open cross-selling or up-selling opportunities by knowing a customer has recently moved.

NCOA service companies compare the person’s name and address you currently have to the official NCOA record and will make corrections where needed. This service is typically offered in a more comprehensive suite of address verification solutions but can be a stand-alone service.

Address verification is the process of confirming the accuracy of the postal information before any material is sent to that address. This data is checked against a dataset to ensure it is both a real address and the correct address. An address verification program will ensure that your data is correct and accurate thus increasing your derivability.

Canada Post

Canada Post maintains an NCOA database for third-party companies to verify their own and others’ data to ensure the highest quality and accurate data before campaigns. Canada’s NCOA system has very strict policies around the use of its data. This includes companies having an established relationship with a customer prior to updating their records with mover data. This business relationship includes:

  • Making a purchase, donating, renting, leasing, contracting or participating with an organization within the previous 24 months. 
  • Requested information or made an inquiry within the previous 6 months.

NCOA cannot be used for:
  • Update a rental list with no pre-existing relationship.
  • Verify mover data manually.
  • Analyze statistical moving patterns.
  • Enhance a database with new contacts.

This Canadian database includes over 11 million records from around Canada and spans over 6 years of collected data.


As we have touched on briefly throughout this article, there are many benefits to NCOA for you and your business. As business ages, grows and evolves, its data can get messy and degrade. It can be difficult to manage your data as the data grows or to keep the quality high as you move tools. This is why NCOA can help your business keep up to date on your customers and ensure you keep your existing relationships while your customer moves.

Now, this may seem like the most obvious answer to “What are the benefits of NCOA?”, but what are some of the other benefits?

  • Costs less than acquiring new customers. 
  • Improves the relationship with existing customers. 
  • Allow you to re-engage with lost customers. 
  • Increases your deliverability rate. 
  • Lowers postage, printing and mail preparation expenses. 
  • Maximize your sales opportunities.
  • Increase your response rate.
Moving Forward

With a clear campaign plan set, there is no need to ruin it with out-of-date and dirty data. You can accurately target and reach your customer base with a clear understanding of where your customers are located. Not only is this important for marketing, but this is also crucial for customer support activities if required.

There are plenty of companies that will help you maintain and clean your data. Companies such as Cleanlist can help provide consumer or business data, maintain and clean your data, and ensure you are ready for any upcoming campaigns.

Your organization, your data, and your needs are unique. To find out what’s possible Cleanlist offers a free assessment to qualified organizations.

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