USPS raises bar for addresses

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The U.S. Postal Service published a notice in the Federal Register on May 23 proposing new standards for address quality.

The proposal extends the Move Update requirement to all Standard Mail pieces. Discounted First-Class Mail and Standard Mail requires Move Update processing no more than 95 days prior to mailing.

"The changes we are proposing to the Move Update standards are needed to improve the level of address quality for mailings entered at discounted First-Class Mail and Standard Mail rates and will result in higher-quality addressing on mail pieces and in timely delivery to intended recipients," the USPS filing said.

Move Update, the process for updating names and addresses, is a way to help mailers reach their customers in an efficient and cost-effective way. It is required for mailers to obtain discounted rates for First-Class Mail. All address records used on pieces in discounted-rate mailings of First-Class Mail must be matched with USPS customer-filed change-of-address orders within 185 days of the date of mailing.

The USPS said it is extending Move Update to Standard Mail because the category accounts for 62.8 percent of all undeliverable-as-addressed mail volume. This was higher than the percent for any other class of mail.

In addition, the agency said the majority of UAA Standard Mail is disposed of as waste-only a small percent of mail is endorsed for forwarding or return. In 2004, about 6 billion Standard Mail pieces cost almost $248 million to dispose.

As for increasing the frequency of use of Move Update processing, the USPS said that approximately 14 percent of all Americans move every year. In 2006, for example, families and individuals filed over 41 million change-of-address orders. In that same year, there were 2.3 million business filings.

"On average, the monthly rate of deterioration of address currency, due to family and individual moves alone, is approximately 1.2 percent," the filing said. "By reducing the processing window from 185 days to 95 days prior to the mailing date, the natural deterioration of address currency can be expected to significantly decrease."

The USPS said it would provide a minimum 18-month implementation phase from the date of the May 23 notice to allow mailers sufficient time to comply with the proposed Move Update standards.

The USPS is also asking for comments on the proposal from the mailing community by June 22.

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