EDIFACT Standard

EDIFACT Standard In Electronic Data Interchange

EDIFACT Standard is an acronym for EDI For Administration, Commerce and Transport. It coordinates international standardization by working through the UN/ECE (United Nations/Economic Commission for Europe). EDIFACT Standard provides:

  • an international EDI standard
  • a set of syntax rules
  • data elements, segments and codes
  • messages

EDIFACT Standard is the product of the evolution in bringing the Proprietary Standards of the US and Europe together to form a single international EDI standard. EDI standards facilitate electronic data interchange (EDI) by providing:

  • Rules of syntax
  • Definition of the data organization
  • Editing rules and conventions
  • Published public documentation EDI standards:
    • Allow an ‘open’ system
    • Reduce implementation effort
    • Provide ‘third-party interfaces’

In order to bring about the evolution of the EDIFACT Standard, the UN has created UN/ECE to coordinate this effort.

EDIFACT Standard Message Definition

A message is a single business document. Each message 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

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. 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.


Some things to keep in mind:

  • EDIFACT was orginally developed from a base of US ANSI standards and UN GTDI standards.
  • The syntax of both standards are remarkably similar.
  • Many segments are similar in the two standards.
  • Translation software can readily generate/accept either EDIFACT or ANSI ASC X.12 data.
  • A key issue will be the organizational improvements needed to develop/maintain EDIFACT standards within the US and Canada.

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