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Why do we get "undeliverable" mail even though we NCOA our mailing list?

We always run our house mailing list through the NCOA (National Change of Address) program at least once a year. Even so, there are still returns that come back as "undeliverable" and some of them are marked with different endorsements from the Post Office. Are we doing something wrong? What do the endorsements mean?

The U.S.P.S. estimates that only 50% of all moves are ever registered with the Post Office. The NCOA process takes the addresses in your file and looks for a match with the addresses on file for moves. If a change of address or move was never filed, then NCOA won’t be able to create a match or update the address. These records will come back as "undeliverable" after the mailing. The most common endorsements used on undeliverable mail are FOE, ANK and NSN. FOE means "Forwarding order expired." This endorsement is provided when there is a move registration on file for the address, but it has expired, making forwarding impossible. ANK means "Attempted not known" and is used when the delivery was actually attempted, but the name on the mail piece does not match the current occupant. NSN, or "No such number," means that the address represents a non-existent street number and the correct number is not known.

David Loudon, VP of Mail Processing, EU Services, answered this question. David has been EU’s resident expert on postal regulations and has been with EU for over 17 years. He can be reached at or 301-424-3300.

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