Help I have to do EDIFACT, but what is EDIFACT?

EDIFACT is the most well-known EDI standard worldwide. But what is EDIFACT exactly and why is it that effective in letting different systems communicate with each other by means of one uniform language, so that they understand each other.

Help I have to do EDIFACT, but what is EDIFACT?

EDIFACT is the most well-known EDI standard worldwide. Often, EDI & EDIFACT are also seen as synonyms of each other. Completely wrong because the term EDI stands for Electronic Data Interchange and is a way of working which organizations can apply for the automated exchange of data with other organizations.

EDIFACT, on the other hand, is the format in which that data can be exchanged and EDI standards such as EDIFACT aim to allow different systems to communicate with each other by means of one uniform language, so that they understand each other. This way, the systems exchange data with each other flawlessly and efficiently.

What is EDIFACT?

EDIFACT stands for Electronic Data Interchange For Administration Commerce and Transport and was developed in 1987 by the United Nations (UN) with the aim of providing an international standard that organizations can use to exchange 'documents' through electronic messages.

The EDIFACT standard consists of a large set of message descriptions, each of which supports a specific business process.

In total, more than 200 messages have been described. EDIFACT only describes the message structures and not the data communication.

The EDIFACT standard provides for:

  • A set of syntax rules to structure data
  • Standard messages that allow data exchange between different industries and different countries – also known as a transaction
  • An extensive set of code lists and indicates which protocol is used for secure messaging


Although new protocols, software solutions and other standards are released every year, EDIFACT has been a very popular standard since 1987! In addition to the convenience that EDIFACT offers, this is also due to the ISO 9735-10:2014 certification which is included the standard.

The EDIFACT standard was built to allow systems to communicate with each other internationally through EDI messages. These EDI messages are applied in the:

  • Industry
  • Trade
  • Transportation
  • Agriculture

EDIFACT messages and examples

EDIFACT is most commonly used for transactions between trading partners within a chain, such as: orders, order confirmations, delivery notes and invoices.

Some examples of EDIFACT messages are:

  • Purchase order message (ORDERS)
  • Purchase order response message (ORDRSP)
  • Delivery schedule message (DELFOR)
  • Delivery just in time message (DELJIT)
  • Invoice message (INVOIC)

If you are not a specialist, the message itself will be unreadable, but as an example now follows an EDIFACT document that answers a request for availability of a product within the aviation sector:
















EDIFACT advantages

By implementing EDIFACT instead of processing transactions by paper, the following advantages can be mentioned:

  • The speed of the transaction
  • The cost of the transaction
  • Prevention of errors arising from data interpretation
  • It also leads to standardization of services and products

Implement EDIFACT/EDI in your organization

With all the advantages that EDIFACT/EDI brings, it is of course very interesting to implement this solution. It's very important to have a clear plan, since EDI not only affects your IT systems, but also your business processes and the employees involved in your organization.

ECS is the specialist to assist you in this matter. With more than 20 years of experience in the field of EDI and MFT, we can assist you to smoothly overcome all hurdles to achieve a successful EDI implementation.

For more information, please refer to our E-book How to smoothly overcome obstacles on the path to EDI. Or contact us today via our contact form or via +31 229 574331.