Move Update is the term used by the USPS to refer to a wide variety of address quality standards. On November 23, 2008, they will change the rules. The requirements will cover more classes of mail, and addresses will have to be updated more often.

Besides the obvious need to stay in line with USPS mailing policies, there are many compelling business reasons to comply, even if your primary class of mail isn’t effected, yet.

The USPS goal is to reduce the amount of Undeliverable As Addressed (UAA) mail. In 2006 alone, over 9.7 billion pieces of mail were sent out with addresses that could not be delivered. This cost almost $1.9 billion to process, forward, return, or destroy.

There are several factors that lead to a mailpiece being undeliverable. The recipient may have moved. The address could have a typo and be invalid. A rural route address may have been replaced with a “911” street and number type address. All of these can be corrected by different processes.

The USPS has already moved to make DPV (Delivery Point Validation) a requirement for all Automation Rate mailings, which includes First Class, Standard Mail and Periodicals (like magazines). Now, during the CASS (Coding Accuracy Support System) process, an additional database is used to insure the address is an actual point that can be delivered. For example, Main Street may have address numbers ranging from 100 to 500. If a record has a number of 550, it would be rejected by DPV. By catching and correcting these pieces before printing and mailing, postage and processing delays can be saved.

The latest development is in the area of NCOA (National Change Of Address). Whenever you fill in a change of address card, or go to the USPS Change Of Address web page,  a record is generated in the NCOA master database. By comparing addresses against this database, a mailer can find the new address when someone has moved. Originally started as an optional service, NCOA is now required for First Class Mail. In November, NCOA will also be required for Standard Mail. Most people expect it to become a requirement for Periodicals next year. Another change occurring in November is that the mailing list must have been processed through NCOA within 95 days of the date of mailing. Previously, the standard was 185 days.

Normally, when a list is processed through NCOA, it is also run through LACS (Locatable Address Conversion System). This converts rural route addresses to street name / box number type addresses (911 addresses). This is often included with NCOA for no additional charge.

Mailers failing to comply with the Move Update rules stand to lose their automation discounts. This would apply to all the pieces in a given mailing, not just those pieces which couldn’t be delivered. Obviously any violation would also invite increased scrutiny of future mailings.

In the future, Compliance will be easier for the USPS to track. With the advent of the Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMB or OneCode), every piece will include a mailer ID field. Currently, USPS facilities close to the mailer can easily determine and track back to the mailer. With IMB, they will be able to identify the mailer at any level.

The IMB isn’t all bad news when it comes to Move Update. The Address Correction Service (ACS) is cheaper and easier to implement when you implement “full service” IMB. Each piece is assigned an unique ID. When the USPS forwards or fails to deliver a piece, and electronic letter is returned, which you can use to update your mailing list.

Besides the threat of losing automation discounts on current and future mailings, there are other reasons to use the Move Update resources. If you clean your list to include current, non-duplicate, deliverable addresses, you will mail fewer pieces, qualify for automation discounts, and your items will be delivered more quickly and accurately. These reasons alone will more than repay your efforts.

Leave a Reply