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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).
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: