NCOA Codes & What They Mean

When a child is flagged by the monthly NCOA process it will be given a code that will show on your NCOA Child List and also on the mouse over "Show NCOA Data" button if the child is in the Pending NCOA area.

Return Codes Shown in BOS:

10-17 May be undeliverable (poor address quality).
21-22 Address didn’t match an address range in the zip+4.
23-28 Recipient moved without providing a forwarding address to the USPS. 33 Address is non-deliverable.
36-39 New address information is provided. 


Additional information on NCOA codes:

  • Return Codes 35, 36, 37, 38 & 39. A move or address update is confirmed. Records with one of these codes have been updated with the addressee’s new address.
  • Return Codes 23, 26, 27, 28, & 33. These codes are non-reliable for delivery and a new address needs to be provided.
  • Return Code 23. A move or address update is confirmed, but the new address could not be supplied. A possible cause for this is that a change of address card was submitted to the USPS, however the new address provided did not match an address the USPS recognizes as deliverable.
  • Return Code 26. The PO Box has been closed, and no forwarding address was supplied.
  • Return Code 27. A change of address form was submitted, but no forwarding address was provided.
  • Return Code 28. Customer has moved out of the country.
  • Return Code 33. Address flagged as Non-Deliverable.
  • (Addresses with Return Codes 23, 26,27, 28 and 33 should be taken off your list or researched.)
  • Return Code 31. These addresses matched to a record and are valid postal addresses. (These addresses can be mailed to with reasonable confidence.)
  • Return Code 32. These records are missing a suite or apartment information. They may or may not be deliverable. 
  • Return Codes 10-17. These records may not be delivered due to poor address quality. (Addresses with Return Codes 10-17 should be researched to provide a full and complete address if possible.)
  • Return Codes 1–4 and 43–46 indicate that a move is suggested, but there there is not enough accurate data to verify the information. The lower the score, the greater the chance that a move has occurred. 
  • Return Codes 21 and 22. For these codes the NCOA check comes up with an invalid city, state or zip combination, or simply cannot find the address in its database or is getting too many responses to make a determination. Essentially, these addresses do not conform to postal standards and cannot be compared against the database. Some of them may be pre-911 addresses. They may or may not be deliverable, depending oftentimes on the whim of the local post office. For example:
Correct Postal Address
Joe Smith
672 Fairbanks Drive
East Overshoe, VT 05333
List Address
Joe Smith
Old Fairbanks Road
Underfoot, VT 05333

For first-class and other classes of mail, the post office may still deliver mail addressed to the list address because the carrier knows Joe Smith's residence well. But for bulk mail, the class our books are sent, if the address does not match what is on file with the USPS, a NCOA flag will be assigned. 
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