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Jan 31

The Differences Between EDI X12 and EDIFACT

ascii-edifactQuestion: Hi Roger, we recently got a contract to supply an organization in Germany which will require EDI. This would normally be no problem to us as we have been doing EDI with our North American trading partners for over four years; however, our new German contract requires us to use EDIFACT rather than X12 as their preferred EDI standard. Could you highlight the main differences between X12 and EDIFACT and suggest what I should do?

Answer: In 1979 the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) chartered the Accredited Standards Committee (ASC) X12 to develop uniform standards for inter-industry electronic exchange of business transactions – now known commonly as Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). These transaction sets, abbreviated to X12, are the predominant EDI standards used by organizations in North America today.

In 1986, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN/ECE) approved the acronym “UN/EDIFACT,” which translates to United Nations Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transport. UN/EDIFACT is an international EDI standard designed to meet the needs of both government and private industry. EDIFACT is the most popular worldwide EDI data standard outside of North America.

Here is a brief list of some of the different names given to documents in the X12 and EDIFACT transactions sets. You will notice that X12 assigns numeric values to documents whereas EDIFACT lists names or abbreviations.


Product / Pricing Transactions X12 EDIFACT
     › Price Sales Catalog 832 PRICAT
     › Price Authorization Acknowledgement / Status 845 ATHSTS
     › Specification / Technical Information 841 PRDSPE
     › Request for Quotation 840 REQOTE
Ordering Transactions    
     › Purchase Order 850 ORDERS
     › Purchase Order Acknowledgement 855 ORDRSP
     › Purchase Order Change 860 ORDCHG
     › Purchase Order Change Acknowledgement 865 ORDRSP
Materials Management Transactions    
     › Planning Schedule/Material Release 830 DELFOR
     › Shipping Schedule 862 DELJIT
     › Production Sequence 866
     › Ship Notice/manifest (ASN) 856 DESADV
Shipping / Recieving Transactions    
     › Shipment Information (Bill of Lading) 858 IFTMCS
     › Receiving Advice 861 RECADV
     › Non-conformance Information-Disposition 842 NONCON
Inventory Management Transactions    
     › Inventory Inquiry/Advice 846 INVRPT
     › Product Transfer and Resale Report 867 SLSRPT
Financial Transactions    
     › Invoice 810 INVOIC
     › Freight Invoice 859 IFTMCS
     › Payment Order / Remittance Advice (EFT) 820 REMADV


There are many differences between an X12 and an EDIFACT document and I would recommend that if you do not have the capabilities to do EDIFACT in house that you outsource to a strong global EDI solution provider who can handle both data formats. At B2BGateway, we have offices located in North America, Europe and Pacific/Asia regions and can handle all internationally recognized EDI data formats including not only X12 and EDIFACT but many, many more (Tradacoms in the UK for example).

For further information on B2Bgateway’s international data standards capabilities, please visit contact us or call +1 (401) 491-9595 Ext. 5.