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CASS Certification and NCOA Processing in Mailing

By: Shelby

What Is the Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS)?

Coding Accuracy Support System or CASS is what mailers use to standardize the format of an address, add Zip+4 information and add a Delivery Point Barcode to the recipients address. The CASS software program provided by the USPS is typically part of any professional mailers presort software suite.

When choosing SLB Printing, Inc. to process your mail, you can be assured that we are using CASS certified software licensed to us annually by BCC Software. The annual contract provides us with address updates every 2 months.  Our vendor must renew annually with the USPS to meet current CASS Certification cycle requirements. The CASS certification is a requirement for Automation Compatible mail qualification. So, if you want to save on postage and qualify for automation postal rates, CASS is part of the process.

For more detailed information on CASS Certification, visit the the Postal Pro area of the USPS site

What Does CASS Software Do?

Simply stated, CASS software will correct and standardize addresses. By matching the address provided to the CASS database, it can perform several other address matching functions as well. If there is enough information that doesn’t conflict with another address, it can even add missing address information, such as ZIP codes, Zip+4, cities, and states in order to ensure the address is complete.

Any mailing claiming automation rates must have the addresses properly coded with a CASS-certified address matching method.  Keep in mind, fixing an address or adding missing address information should not be confused with performing the NCOA service. (We’ll talk about NCOA service next).  CASS is primarily for making sure the address you are mailing to exists.  After being confirmed, it is coded and converted into a standardized appearance. Lastly, an Intelligent Mail Bar Code is also part of the coding that is done.

What are some of the things that get corrected by CASS?

  • Misspellings for City and Street names
  • Street suffixes such as Road, Court, Avenue, Boulevard, Bayou & Bluff
  • Simple 5 digit ZIP codes updated to ZIP+4

Here’s an example of what CASS can do:

The misspelled and incomplete address:

SLB Printing, Inc.
2818 Roberson Blvd
Los Angeles, CA

Is changed to:

LOS ANGELES CA 90034-2406

The supplied and incomplete address was found in the CASS database. Most likely it was found because there isn’t a North, East or West 2818 Robertson Blvd in Los Angeles. Next, the address was standardized to all upper case and zip+4 is updated as well. Also, in this case, the address was determined to be a business.  When the fully coded address with the IM Barcode is printed onto the mail piece, it’ll look like this:


Will CASS fix every address and find my intended recipient?

This is a common question we hear. The difference between CASS and NCOA is often misunderstood.  CASS will verify and fix the address to the best of its ability.  If it cannot be corrected, the address will be marked as “Non-CASS”.  “Non-CASS” simply means there’s something wrong with the address that renders the software unable to update it.  Alternatively, NCOA will be the method used to find and update a recipient who has moved.  Said another way, NCOA updates the person and CASS updates the address. Keep in mind, the ability for CASS to match an address can vary greatly depending on address quality.  Also, the length of time since the address was last updated can play a part too.

CASS Certified Lists Must Achieve 98.5% Accuracy or Higher

To be CASS Certified, a minimum accuracy percentage is required to achieve a passing score. The CASS product categories that we typically work with are 5-Digit, Carrier Route & Zip+4/DP.  All 3 of these categories require a passing score of 98.5% accuracy or higher.  If the list achieves a passing score of 98.5% or higher it now qualifies for automation rates. 

If your list doesn’t achieve the needed accuracy rate, there are a few options. First, sort for the non-cass records and do a visual check.  If nothing appears wrong with the address, you can mail to them but only with non-automation rates.  If that’s not an option, you can remove the records from the list and rerun the CASS program again.  At this point, you should acheive 100% accuracy 

What is a NCOA update (National Change of Address)?

NCOA stands for National Change of Address.  NCOA, also known as NCOALink,  is a secure dataset product maintained by the U.S. Postal Service.  It contains a list of all individuals and companies that have completed a Change of Address form in the previous four years.

In May 2020, the American Community Survey (ACS) data showed that during the past five years, just over 40 million Americans moved each year. That means about 13 percent of Americans are moving every year. If the proper procedure is not performed by the mover to update their information in the USPS system, a host of issues can happen. 

A major cause of undeliverable-as-addressed (UAA) mail is outdated address information. Another common reason is the name and address caused a matching error.  Other contributing causes are address information that was not entered correctly or was never in the correct USPS format.  Unfortunately, the consequences of UAA mail are wasted costs and lost opportunities for revenue and profit.  Consequently, when your marketing mail piece is getting returned back to you there is no sale to be made!

A NCOA update can help to reduce the presence of UAA undeliverable mail pieces. This is done by identifying and matching move update requests with their new addresses.  Then correcting and properly formatting the new address or removing it prior to mailing.

How Does the National Change of Address (NCOA) product work?

As I mentioned previously, The NCOALink Product is a secure dataset of approximately 160 million permanent change-of-address (COA) records.  It’s made up of names and addresses of individuals, families, and businesses who have filed a change-of-address notice with the Postal Service. It was developed with secure data store technology to increase security of postal customer data and protect the privacy of this information.  The NCOALink Product enables mailers to process mailing lists and update lists with new addresses prior to mailing. Lastly, the NCOALink data is provided on a regular basis to companies that have been licensed by the Postal Service. [i]

Each data entry is matched against other entries to ensure that there are no repeated addresses. Then, the software will update your address database with the information provided by the postal service. Next, the updated records are marked as changed in the database making it easy to find by sorting.  You can then revise the information in your system if you choose to do so.

Three different NCOALink® licenses are available: Full Service Providers, Limited Service Providers and End User Mailers.  SLB Printing uses the “Full Service Provider” software provided by BCC Software.  Our software is updated every 2 months and is licensed annually.

To obtain presorted discount mailing rates, NCOALink® is required to be performed on your database every 6 months.  The tradeoff is that it reduces the number of UAA, “undeliverable-as-addressed”, mail pieces.  In the end, it’s saving you money and reducing the USPS’s processing of this type of mail.

How Long Does NCOA Forwarding Last For?

When a person completes a Change of Address form, either in person at the post office or online, first class mail will be forwarded to the new address for a period of up to one year. Your new address information is also added to the NCOA database containing more than 125 million changes of address records. After 1 year, the post office will return the mail to the sender with a yellow slip attached.  That yellow slip provides the movers updated information is it’s still available.

For information on the types of mailing services that SLB Printing can provide, visit our product page for mailing.

[i] Information from USPS® | PostalProTM


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