What is UN/EDIFACT Standard and Messages?


UN/EDIFACT (United Nations/Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce, and Transport is the international standard that was developed by the United Nations). Comprise a set of internationally agreed standards, directo­ries, and guidelines for the electronic interchange of structured data, between independent computerized information systems. The work of maintenance and further development of this standard is done through the United Nations Center for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) under the UN Economic Commission for Europe.

EDIFACT has served as the default international EDI standard for several decades and is largely used throughout Europe.

EDIFACT Message Structure

An EDIFACT message represents a single business document. – For example, an ORDRSP file represents a Purchase Order note. Each message has a six-letter identifier that shows the short name of the message.

Any document in the UN / EDIFACT standard has a hierarchical structure. The entire electronic document is called a message. A message consists of data groups combined in some way, for example, a data group describing customs payments, a group of data describing the attributes of documents, etc. In turn, the group consists of typical data segments that describe document attributes in more detail. The standard provides about 200 different types of segments from which messages are composed. The segments themselves also have a hierarchical structure and consist of data elements that can be simple (data field) and composite (usually 2-3 data fields).

The following is the structure of an EDIFACT transmission:

  • Service String Advice
  • Interchange Header
  • Functional Group Header
  • Message Header
  • User Data Segments
  • Message Trailer
  • Functional Group Trailer
  • Interchange Trailer
UN/EDIFACT-Message-Structure - Commport Communications

Benefits of UN/EDIFACT

UN/EDIFACT allows real-time electronic transactions and accelerates the interactions between trading partners.

3 main benefits of UN/EDIFACT standards are,

  1. Accuracy – Eliminates human errors that are inevitable when manually entering the data
  2. Improve Cashflow – Reducing paper-based processing will in turn reduce your business administrative costs and save thousands of dollars for business
  3. Efficiency – Large volumes of data can be transferred within minutes thus improving overall operational efficiency

See below for an example of an EDIFACT message used to answer a flight ticket (FRA-JFK-MIA) availability request:

UNA:+.? ‘
















Application ReferenceMessage Type
APERAKApplication error and acknowledgement message
AUTHORAuthorization message
AVLREQAvailability request – interactive message
AVLRSPAvailability response – interactive message
BALANCBalance message
BANSTABanking status message
BAPLIEBayplan/stowage plan occupied and empty locations message
BAPLTEBayplan/stowage plan total numbers message
BERMANBerth management message
BMISRMBulk marine inspection summary report message
BOPBNKBank transactions and portfolio transactions report message
BOPCUSBalance of payment customer transaction report message
BOPDIRDirect balance of payment declaration message
BOPINFBalance of payment information from customer message
BUSCRDBusiness credit report message
CALINFVessel call information message
CASINTRequest for legal administration action in civil proceedings message
CASRESLegal administration response in civil proceedings message
CHACCOChart of accounts message
CLASETClassification information set message
CNTCNDContractual conditions message
COACSUCommercial account summary message
COARRIContainer discharge/loading report message
CODECOContainer gate-in/gate-out report message
CODENOPermit expiration/clearance ready notice message
COEDORContainer stock report message
COHAORContainer special handling order message
COLREQRequest for a documentary collection message
COMDISCommercial dispute message
CONAPWAdvice on pending works message
CONDPVDirect payment valuation message
CONDRADrawing administration message
CONDRODrawing organization message
CONESTEstablishment of contract message
CONITTInvitation to tender message
CONPVAPayment valuation message
CONQVAQuantity valuation message
CONRPWResponse of pending works message
CONTENTender message
CONWQDWork item quantity determination message
COPARNContainer announcement message
COPAYMContributions for payment
COPINOContainer pre-notification message
COPRARContainer discharge/loading order message
COREORContainer release order message
COSTCOContainer stuffing/stripping confirmation message
COSTORContainer stuffing/stripping order message
CREADVCredit advice message
CREEXTExtended credit advice message
CREMULMultiple credit advice message
CUSCARCustoms cargo report message
CUSDECCustoms declaration message
CUSEXPCustoms express consignment declaration message
CUSPEDPeriodic customs declaration message
CUSREPCustoms conveyance report message
CUSRESCustoms response message
DEBADVDebit advice message
DEBMULMultiple debit advice message
DEBRECDebts recovery message
DELFORDelivery schedule message
DELJITDelivery just in time message
DESADVDispatch advice message
DESTIMEquipment damage and repair estimate message
DGRECADangerous goods recapitulation message
DIRDEBDirect debit message
DIRDEFDirectory definition message
DMRDEFData maintenance request definition message
DMSTATData maintenance status report/query message
DOCADVDocumentary credit advice message
DOCAMAAdvice of an amendment of a documentary credit message
DOCAMIDocumentary credit amendment information message
DOCAMRRequest for an amendment of a documentary credit message
DOCAPPDocumentary credit application message
DOCAREResponse to an amendment of a documentary credit message
DOCINFDocumentary credit issuance information message
ENTRECAccounting entries message
FINCANFinancial cancellation message
FINPAYMultiple interbank funds transfer message
FINSTAFinancial statement of an account message
GENRALGeneral purpose message
GESMESGeneric statistical message
HANMOVCargo/goods handling and movement message
ICASRPInsurance claim assessment and reporting message
ICSOLIInsurance claim solicitor’s instruction message
IFCSUMForwarding and consolidation summary message
IFTCCAForwarding and transport shipment charge calculation message
IFTDGNDangerous goods notification message
IFTFCCInternational transport freight costs and other charges message
IFTIAGDangerous cargo list message
IFTICLCargo insurance claims message
IFTMANArrival notice message
IFTMBCBooking confirmation message
IFTMBFFirm booking message
IFTMBPProvisional booking message
IFTMCAConsignment advice message
IFTMCSInstruction contract status message
IFTMFRInternational Forwarding And Transport
IFTMINInstruction message
IFTRINForwarding and transport rate information message
IFTSAIForwarding and transport schedule and availability information me
IFTSTAInternational multimodal status report message
IFTSTQInternational multimodal status request message
IHCEBIInteractive health insurance eligibility and benefits inquiry and
IHCLMEHealth care claim or encounter request and response – interactive
IMPDEFEDI implementation guide definition message
INFCONInfrastructure condition message
INFENTEnterprise accounting information message
INSDESInstruction to dispatch message
INSPREInsurance premium message
INSREQInspection request message
INSRPTInspection report message
INTCHGInterchange Control Structures
INVOICInvoice message
INVRPTInventory report message
IPPOADInsurance policy administration message
IPPOMOMotor insurance policy message
ISENDSIntermediary system enablement or disablement message
ITRRPTIn transit report detail message
JAPRESJob application result message
JINFDEJob information demand message
JOBAPPJob application proposal message
JOBCONJob order confirmation message
JOBMODJob order modification message
JOBOFFJob order message
JUPREQJustified payment request message
LEDGERLedger message
LREACTLife reinsurance activity message
LRECLMLife reinsurance claims message
MEDPIDPerson identification message
MEDPREMedical prescription message
MEDREQMedical service request message
MEDRPTMedical service report message
MEDRUCMedical resource usage and cost message
MEQPOSMeans of transport and equipment position message
MOVINSStowage instruction message
MSCONSMetered services consumption report message
ORDCHGPurchase order change request message
ORDERSPurchase order message
ORDRSPPurchase order response message
OSTENQOrder status enquiry message
OSTRPTOrder status report message
PARTINParty information message
PASREQTravel tourism and leisure product application status request – i
PASRSPTravel tourism and leisure product application status response –
PAXLSTPassenger list message
PAYDUCPayroll deductions advice message
PAYEXTExtended payment order message
PAYMULMultiple payment order message
PAYORDPayment order message
PRICATPrice/sales catalogue message
PRIHISPricing history message
PROCSTProject cost reporting message
PRODATProduct data message
PRODEXProduct exchange reconciliation message
PROINQProduct inquiry message
PROSRVProduct service message
PROTAPProject tasks planning message
PRPAIDInsurance premium payment message
QALITYQuality data message
QUOTESQuote message
RDRMESRaw data reporting message
REBORDReinsurance bordereau message
RECADVReceiving advice message
RECALCReinsurance calculation message
RECECOCredit risk cover message
RECLAMReinsurance claims message
RECORDReinsurance core data message
REGENTRegistration of enterprise message
RELISTReinsured objects list message
REMADVRemittance advice message
REPREMReinsurance premium message
REQDOCRequest for document message
REQOTERequest for quote message
RESETTReinsurance settlement message
RESMSGReservation message
RESREQReservation request – interactive message
RESRSPReservation response – interactive message
RETACCReinsurance technical account message
RETANNAnnouncement for returns message
RETINSInstruction for returns message
RPCALLRepair call message
SAFHAZSafety and hazard data message
SANCRTInternational movement of goods governmental regulatory message
SKDREQSchedule request – interactive message
SKDUPDSchedule update – interactive message
SLSFCTSales forecast message
SLSRPTSales data report message
SOCADESocial administration message
SSIMODModification of identity details message
SSRECHWorker’s insurance history message
SSREGWNotification of registration of a worker message
STATACStatement of account message
STLRPTSettlement transaction reporting message
SUPCOTSuperannuation contributions advice message
SUPMANSuperannuation maintenance message
SUPRESSupplier response message
TANSTATank status report message
TAXCONTax control message
TIQREQTravel tourism and leisure information inquiry request – interactive
TIQRSPTravel tourism and leisure information inquiry response – interactive
TPFREPTerminal performance message
TSDUPDTimetable static data update – interactive message
TUPREQTravel, tourism and leisure data update request – interactive message
TUPRSPTravel, tourism and leisure data update response – interactive message
UTILMDUtilities master data message
UTILTSUtilities time series message
VATDECValue added tax message
VESDEPVessel departure message
WASDISWaste disposal information message
WKGRDCWork grant decision message
WKGRREWork grant request message


The UN/EDIFACT standard provides a set of syntax rules to structure, an interactive exchange protocol, and provides a set of standard messages which allow multi-country and multi-industry exchange of electronic business documents. EDIFACT is widely used across Europe, mainly since many companies adopted it very early on. EDIFACT has seen some adoption in the ASPAC region, however, there are currently more XML-based standards being used in this region today.

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Improve your business process and maximize your supply chain performance with our EDI solutions. Contact us today for a free consultation and demo.

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Frequently Asked Questions

The UN/EDIFACT (United Nations/Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce, and Transport) standard is an international messaging format developed by the United Nations to facilitate electronic data exchange for various business processes, including administration, commerce, and transport. It defines a set of rules and structures for creating structured messages that enable seamless communication between different computer systems.

The primary purpose of the UN/EDIFACT standard is to establish a common format for electronic data interchange (EDI) among businesses and organizations worldwide. By providing a standardized framework for representing and exchanging business data, the UN/EDIFACT standard helps streamline communication, reduce errors, and enhance efficiency in processes such as procurement, transportation, and customs clearance.

The UN/EDIFACT standard works by defining a set of message types and data elements that represent specific business transactions or information exchanges. These messages are organized into directories and directories into segments, creating a hierarchical structure. Each segment contains relevant data elements, and the messages are formatted using a combination of letters and numbers. When two trading partners want to exchange information, they follow the UN/EDIFACT guidelines to create, send, and receive standardized messages.

Yes, UN/EDIFACT messages are designed to be technology-neutral, meaning they can be implemented and used across various technology platforms and communication methods. While the standard originated in the era of electronic data interchange (EDI) systems, it can still be adapted to modern technologies, such as XML-based formats, web services, and APIs, ensuring seamless integration with contemporary business systems.

UN/EDIFACT messages cover a wide range of business processes. Some common examples include:

  • ORDERS: Used for purchase orders and order responses between trading partners.
  • INVOIC: Used for transmitting invoice information from the seller to the buyer.
  • DESADV: Used for providing details about shipments and deliveries.
  • CUSDEC: Used for customs declarations during international trade.
  • REMADV: Used for transmitting payment instructions and advice.

These messages serve as standardized templates for specific interactions, helping businesses communicate effectively while minimizing errors and discrepancies.

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