EDI Standards

If you are dealing with EDI you would hear the term EDI standard very often. Let’s take a look at what it means and the different EDI standards.

What is an EDI Standard?

EDI standards give a certain format to data in an EDI file. Let’s take an excel sheet that has a list of Purchase orders. As an example, let’s assume our excel sheet’s 1st column is the Purchase order number, 2nd column is Purchase order data, and the 3rd Customer name. Clearly defining the purpose of each column is important for anyone who might read it.

Similarly, when EDI files are exchanged between two companies, its important for the EDI software to know the position of data points in the EDI file. These positions of data points in an EDI file are dictated by EDI standards.

The above sample image has a small snippet from a Purchase order EDI file from Walmart. As you could tell, every position has a meaning. This is dictated by the EDI standard.

Different EDI standards

Different EDI Standards used in various regions globally
Different EDI Standards used in various regions globally


Developed by the United Nations, EDIFACT stands for Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce, and Transport. EDIFACT allows for a multi-country and multi-industry exchange of electronic business documents. Though it is particularly used across the European region, EDIFACT finds some adoption in the US and Asia Specific regions as well.


The “Verband der deutschen Automobilindustrie” EDI standard popularly known as VDA is used for exchanging business documents along the automobile supply chain. It is widely adopted in Germany. VDA messages are strictly not EDI messages due to lack of certain characteristics. VDA is also used in the UK automobile industry.


The automobile industry of Europe uses the ODETTE ( Organisation for Data Exchange by Tele Transmission ) EDI standard. It is used to exchange business documents to improve the flow of goods and product data across the automotive supply chain.


EANCOM is a subset of the UN/EDIFACT EDI standard. This EDI standard was primarily used only for retail and consumer goods but later was adopted in the healthcare and construction sector as well due to its popularity. The GS1 developed the EANCOM ( EAN + Communication ) standard.


THE ANSI X12 EDI message standard was developed in 1979 by the ANSI subsidiary Accredited Standards Committee (ASC). It is one of the most popular EDI standards used in various regions and industries, ranging from retail to healthcare to even automobile.


The HIPAA ( Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act ) EDI standard was developed to improve the efficiency of the North American healthcare sector’s data transactions. Healthcare providers have to ensure that healthcare EDI transactions are based on HIPAA regulations.


The first version of this early EDI standard came about in 1982 and was primarily designed for the UK domestic trade industry. In 1995, TRADACOMS’s development was put to a halt with the introduction of the EDIFACT standard. Despite this, it is still being used in retail across the UK even today.

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