Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transport

What Does Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transport Mean?

Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transport (EDIFACT) is the international standard for electronic data interchange (EDI), which was developed under the auspices of the United Nations. The standard was approved as the ISO 9735 standard by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in 1987. The EDIFACT standard provides rules on how to structure data and standardize messages for multi-industry and multi-country exchange.


EDIFACT is also known as United Nations/Electronic Data Interchange For Administration, Commerce and Transport (UN/EDIFACT).

Techopedia Explains Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transport

The EDIFACT standard defines the protocols and data sets to be used for electronic documents and data being used in EDI. These are composed of internationally agreed-upon standards, guidelines and directories meant for electronic interchange of structured data, particularly those related to the trade of goods and services between computerized information systems that are independent of each other.

Because of the recommendations within the UN framework, EDIFACT rules are approved and published by the UN/ECE, which is a part of the United Nations Trade Data Interchange Directory (UNTDID), and are maintained by procedures agreed upon by member nations.

EDIFACT has a hierarchical structure, where the topmost level is called the interchange and the lower levels are composed of parts that contain multiple messages, each consisting of segments, which, in turn, consist of composites.

The following is the structure of an EDIFACT message:

  • Service String Advice
  • Interchange Header
  • Functional Group Header
  • Message Header
  • User Data Segments
  • Message Trailer
  • Functional Group Trailer
  • Interchange Trailer

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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…