Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transport

Definition of Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transport

Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce, and Transport (EDIFACT) is a standardized messaging protocol used for electronic data exchange between businesses and organizations. Developed by the United Nations, it enables efficient and accurate communication of structured data across different computer systems and networks. EDIFACT is widely used in fields such as transportation, finance, and supply chain management to streamline transaction processes and reduce the need for manual data entry.


The phonetics of the keyword “Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transport” are:ɪˈlektrənɪk deɪtə ˌɪntərˈʧeɪndʒ fɔr ədˌmɪnəˈstreɪʃən, ˈkɒmɜrs ənd ˈtrænspɔrt

Key Takeaways

  1. Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce, and Transport (EDIFACT) is a global standard for electronic transactions, allowing for seamless communication between businesses worldwide.
  2. EDIFACT streamlines business processes by automating data exchange, reducing errors, and increasing efficiency in industries such as supply chain, finance, and shipping.
  3. Flexibility and adaptability are key features of the EDIFACT standard, supporting diverse industries and enabling integration with various systems and technologies to facilitate business growth and innovation.

Importance of Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transport

The term Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transport (EDIFACT) is important primarily because it defines a globally recognized set of standards for exchanging electronic data in various industries.

This framework streamlines and simplifies data communication protocols between entities such as businesses, organizations, and governments.

By providing a common language and structure for various transactions, EDIFACT enables rapid, efficient, and accurate data interchange, ultimately minimizing errors and promoting enhanced interoperability.

In turn, this facilitates seamless global trade, improves supply chain operations, and fosters economic growth and development.


Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transport (EDIFACT) serves as a critical component in the modern global economy by facilitating a seamless and efficient exchange of data between different organizations. As the complexity of inter-organizational transactions increases, the need for a standardized system to handle information is essential.

The primary purpose of EDIFACT is to streamline communication and support electronic data interchange between businesses, optimizing their operations and reducing manual intervention in processes, such as order processing, invoicing, customs declaration, and shipping. With EDIFACT, organizations can ensure accurate, timely, and secure data exchanges, which enable them to improve overall communication and collaboration with their business partners.

The advantages of using EDIFACT are manifold, as it helps businesses overcome challenges associated with traditional methods of data exchange, such as delays, human errors, and additional costs. By adopting the internationally recognized standard of EDIFACT, organizations are able to communicate with their trading partners more effectively, regardless of their geographical location, and adapt to the increasingly complex business environment.

EDIFACT creates an environment where businesses can harness the full potential of their data resources, enhancing their overall supply chain management, agility, and competitiveness. Through the adoption of EDIFACT, organizations can align their goals with global trade trends, future-proofing their operations and maximizing growth opportunities.

Examples of Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transport

Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce, and Transport (EDIFACT) is a set of international standards for electronic data interchange in various sectors. Here are three real-world examples of EDIFACT in use:

Supply Chain Management: In the retail industry, large companies like Walmart utilize EDIFACT to efficiently manage their supply chain operations. Suppliers receive Purchase Orders (ORDERS) electronically via EDIFACT from Walmart, enabling faster processing and reducing the potential for human error. Once the products are shipped, suppliers send a despatch advice (DESADV) message, which provides detailed information on the goods being sent. Upon receipt of the products, an electronic receipt (RECADV) message confirms the delivery, completing the process. This streamlined communication helps maintain an efficient supply chain by reducing lead times, minimizing paperwork, and lowering the possibility of errors.

Shipping and Logistics: EDIFACT is widely used in the shipping and logistics sector to facilitate the global exchange of information. Companies such as DHL, UPS, and FedEx utilize EDIFACT messages, including the International Forwarding and Transport Message (IFTMIN), which provides shipping instructions, and the Transport Status Request (IFTSTA) message, which allows companies to track the progress and status of shipments. The use of EDIFACT simplifies communication among various parties involved in the shipping process, such as carriers, freight forwarders, and customs authorities, and enables faster processing and a more efficient information flow throughout the transport lifecycle.

Healthcare Industry: In the healthcare sector, EDIFACT is employed to streamline and standardize electronic data exchanges among healthcare providers, insurers, and other stakeholders. For example, the Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) standard incorporates EDIFACT to electronically transmit diagnostic imaging reports between hospitals, imaging centers, and medical professionals. Additionally, the Health Level Seven (HL7) standard uses EDIFACT messages, like the Medical Service Referral (MEDRPT), to facilitate electronic exchange of clinical and administrative data between various healthcare systems. This helps reduce manual work, minimize errors, and increase the overall efficiency of healthcare management systems.

Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transport (EDIFACT) FAQ

What is Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transport (EDIFACT)?

Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transport (EDIFACT) is an international standard for electronic data interchange that allows businesses to exchange documents and structured information digitally in a standardized format. It helps improve efficiency, accuracy, and speed in trading, administration and transportation activities.

What are the benefits of using EDIFACT?

Using EDIFACT provides numerous benefits, such as reduced paperwork, increased accuracy, improved communication, faster transaction processing, lower operational costs, and a more reliable and secure way to exchange business documents digitally.

What are some common EDIFACT messages and their purposes?

Some common EDIFACT messages include:
1. INVOIC: Invoice message used for billing purposes.
2. ORDERS: Purchase order message to request goods or services.
3. DESADV: Dispatch advice message to communicate shipping details.
4. RECADV: Receiving advice message acknowledging receipt of goods.
5. PAYMUL: Multiple payment order message to instruct and request payments.
Each message has a specific purpose in the exchange of business documents and information between partners.

How is an EDIFACT message structured?

An EDIFACT message is structured in segments, which consist of data elements grouped to convey a specific piece of information. Each segment begins with a three-letter code identifying its purpose and is followed by a series of data elements separated by special characters. The message is enclosed within UNB (interchange header) and UNZ (interchange trailer) segments, while each functional group within the message is enclosed by UNG (functional group header) and UNE (functional group trailer) segments, and individual messages are enclosed by UNH (message header) and UNT (message trailer) segments.

How do businesses implement EDIFACT for their operations?

Businesses can implement EDIFACT by adopting EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) software that supports the EDIFACT standard. This software can help automate the process of creating, sending, receiving, and processing EDIFACT messages, and facilitate communication between trading partners. Implementing EDIFACT requires a good understanding of the standard, necessary infrastructure, and agreements on data elements and message formats between the businesses involved.

Related Technology Terms

  • UN/EDIFACT (United Nations/Electronic Data Interchange For Administration, Commerce, and Transport)
  • ASC X12 (American National Standards Institute X12)
  • EDI translators
  • EDI communications protocols
  • Integrated EDI solutions

Sources for More Information


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