EDI Resource Center

EDI Standards

Since EDI came onto the scene in the 1960s, organizations have attempted to standardize B2B messaging. Due to diverse business requirements, industries have optimized messaging formats for their own use, resulting in more than a dozen popular EDI standards in use today. Popular formats, such as X12, EDIFACT, TRADACOMS, and ebXML are used across industries to facilitate business communication, while niche variations and EDI formats specify transactions in unique industry scenarios.

In this guide, we break down and explain the various EDI industry standards. It's also a resource hub for EDI messaging transactions. To see the specific EDI transaction sets for the various EDI standards, click the links directly to EDI transactions in the descriptions below.


EANCOM is an EDI standard used to integrate information sent electronically with the physical flow of goods throughout the supply chain. It's a subset of the UN/EDIFACT EDI standard and contains only the messages used in business applications, eliminating many superfluous, optional messages from EDIFACT.

Standard messages available in EANCOM can be divided into the following categories: Master Data, Commercial Transactions, Report & Planning and Transporter.


EDIFACT stands for Electronic Data Interchange For Administration, Commerce and Transport. It's the accepted EDI standard for international trade outside of the U.S. EDIFACT covers:

  • Syntax rules to structure data
  • Interactive exchange protocol (I-EDI)
  • Standard messages (document transaction sets) for multi-country and industry exchange
  • Data element directories
  • Guidelines for electronic interchange of structured data between computer systems


EDIG@S, or EDIGAS, is the EDI solution designed specifically for the information exchange between partners in the gas sector.

This EDI Standard is derived from the UN EDIFACT standard, using a subset of EDIFACT messages. Originally created by four gas companies as an independent transaction standard, EDIGAS now has 14 member companies that govern its use, all multinational gas and energy firms. Today, EDIGAS also supports XML transactions.


HIPAA EDI is a direct result of the U.S. passage of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability ACT (HIPAA), a law governing, among other things, the electronic exchange of healthcare data, including EDI documents, security, and data governance requirements.

HIPAA EDI covers the exchange of electronic documents between healthcare providers and health insurers. Medical practices and other medical providers are required to use HIPAA EDI when they electronically exchange any sensitive administrative information

The intent of HIPAA EDI is to reduce the hundreds of healthcare data formats to a universally implemented healthcare data standard. This uniformity greatly increases the portability and accessibility of health-related information and slashes administrative costs.


Health Level Seven, or HL7, is a set of international standards for transferring clinical and administrative data between software applications used by healthcare providers. More specifically, HL7 helps bridge the gap between health IT applications and makes sharing healthcare data easier and more efficient when compared to older methods.

It is the international counterpart to the U.S. HIPAA EDI standard.

Most healthcare providers use a variety of applications for everything from billing to keeping up with patient information. HL7 helps all of these systems communicate, or interface, when they receive, or need to receive new information.

HL7 provides several standards and guidelines to help software vendors and healthcare providers store and uniformly move data. This way, applications can use the data without using special software for conversions or needing to send paper copies.This information exchange has helped make medical care less geographically isolated and variable.


IATA Cargo-IMP stands for International Air Transport Association Cargo Interchange Message Procedures. It's a subset of EDIFACT EDI, created to automate and standardize data exchange between airlines and other parties.

IATA's Cargo-IMP is a legacy standard now being replaced by IATA Cargo-XML, which facilitates cargo business processes, fulfills custom requirements for Advanced Cargo Information (ACI) filing, and complies with security regulations like e-CSD.

Nevertheless, Cargo-IMP is still widely used, as the migration from the legacy Cargo-IMP format to Cargo-XML is ongoing.


The IATA Cargo-XML messaging is emerging as a preferred standard for electronic communication between airlines and other air cargo stakeholders such as shippers, freight forwarders, ground-handling agents and regulators, as well as customs and security agencies. The purpose is to ensure uniformity, mutual understanding, accuracy and economy in electronic data exchanges.

This new format ultimately helps the air cargo industry improve its processes by digitizing the entire supply chain.

Learn More About IATA Cargo XML


The IATA Passenger and Airport Data Interchange Standards (IATA PADIS) is a subset of EDI messages designed for use with both EDIFACT and XML syntaxes. It develops and maintains EDI and XML message standards for passenger travel and airport-related _passenger service activities_. It's even more specific than the broader IATA Cargo-IMP and Cargo XML standards.


SCRIPT is a standard developed and maintained by the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP). The standard defines documents for electronic transmission of medical prescriptions in the United States. It covers electronic transfer of prescription data between retail pharmacies and prescribers for new prescriptions, prescription changes, prescription refill requests, prescription fill status notifications, and cancellation notifications.

Learn More About NCPDP SCRIPT


RosettaNet is a GS1 standard for electronically trading information among industries such as the high technology industry and the consumer electronics, semiconductor, telecommunications, and logistics industries.

RosettaNet is a partnership of major computer and consumer electronics, electronic components, semiconductor manufacturing, telecom, and logistics companies working to create and implement industry-wide, open e-business process standards. These standards form a common e-business language, aligning processes between supply chain partners worldwide.


SAP IDocs (intermediate documents) are standardized documents, or data containers, that are used to communicate with both SAP and non-SAP systems and exchange information. Using IDocs, companies with SAP ERP systems, for example, can exchange data with external entities like their partners or customers. IDocs are based on two EDI standards, X12 and EDIFACT.


The Standard Exchange Format (SEF) is an open-standard, computer readable, text format that contains the implementation guideline of an EDI document. The purpose of a SEF file is to convey an EDI implementation guideline in a standard, computer-parsable format so that it can be read directly by EDI applications.

SEF holds key advantages over other file formats (e.g. PDF, .docx, rft, html and paper), including:

  • SEF files are immediately useable by both users and computers
  • They're small files and are easily transmitted easily via the web
  • You can edit them with either a text editor or an SEF manager
  • SEF is an open standard, so you can create and distribute SEF files without special permissions or royalties


Tradacoms is an early standard for EDI and was primarily used in the UK retail sector. It was originally one of the precursors to the UN/EDIFACT standard and has since been largely deprecated in favor of the EDIFACT EANCOM subsets, though it is still used by many UK retailers.


X12 is an EDI messaging standard developed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). X12 encompasses a set of standards and corresponding messages that define specific business documents used in a wide variety of industries today and is the de-facto EDI standard in the United States. CData Arc is a proud member of ASC X12.