EDIFACT messages

EDIFACT Messages List and Structure

EDIFACT messages are viewed in the context of the UN/EDIFACT (the United Nations rules for Elec­tronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transport) – a set of internationally agreed standards, directo­ries, and guidelines for the electronic interchange of structured data, between independent computerized information systems. The EDIFACT standard was developed by the United Nations. Further development of the standard is also overseen by that organization’s Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business.

The three major components of EDIFACT are a standard syntax for structuring data, i-EDI (interactive EDI), and standard EDIFACT messages to accommodate interaction among various industries and countries.

Message Definition

A message is a single business document. Each of the EDIFACT messages is identified by a six character name. From the buyer-side these include:

  • ORDERS—Purchase Orders
  • CUSDEC—Customs Declaration
  • IFTMIN—Instruction Message
  • REMADV—Remittance Advice
  • PAYORD—Payment Order

Seller-side messages include:

  • IFTMAN—Arrival Notice
  • CUSRES—Custom Response
  • INVOIC—Invoices

EDIFACT messages are made up of a collection of sequenced segments within defined areas. Some segments may be used in more than one area. The segments that can be used in each area are defined by the EDIFACT documentation.

EDIFACT provides a hierarchical structure for messages. EDIFACT messages begin with the Message Header (UNH) Segment and end with the Message Trailer (UNT) Segment. These two segments are the first, and innermost, level of the three levels of “electronic envelopes” within EDIFACT.

EDIFACT messages structure: Segment Tables

The message structure is defined in segment tables. These give the ‘rules’ of the message. They also show which segments are used in a particular message and the order in which the segments must appear.

Here is an example of a segment table for the Extended Payment Order (PAYEXT):

EDIFACT Messages

Segment tables specify if a segment must appear in a message. This is done using the ‘Requirements Designator’ field. Each segment in the table is designated as either Mandatory (M) or Conditional (C). Mandatory means that at least one occurrence of the segment must appear in the message. Conditional means a segment may be used, if needed, but it is not required.

EDIFACT Messages

Segment tables also specify how many times a particular segment may repeat. This is called the ‘Repetition’ field. Above are the requirements designators and repetition as displayed in the table for the Extended Payment Order (PAYEXT) message.

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