In the world of EDI, there are two major standards: ANSI X12 and EDIFACT.  These two standards both fulfill the function of exchanging documents electronically.  However, there are numerous ways in which ANSI X12 and EDIFACT are different.  How can you tell which is which?  Here are some of the main ways to identify them.


  • ANSI X12 was developed by the American National Standards Institute and is used for North America transaction sets.
  • EDIFACT was developed by the United Nations Economic commission. Outside of North America, it is the most widely used standard.

Message Identification:

  • ASNI X12’s interchange header is marked ISA. Separators include ~, *, and >.
  • EDIFACT’s interchange header is marked as UNB. Separators include ‘, +, and :.

 Data element types:

  • Data element types in ANSI X12 are 6.
  • Data element types in EDIFACT are 3.

 Nesting and looping procedures:

  • There can be structural differences between the nesting and looping procedures for ANSI X12 and EDIFACT 3.

 Release indicator:

  • EDIFACT supports release indicator.
  • ANSI X12 does not.

 Composite element concept

  • EDIFACT uses composite element concept.
  • ANSI X12 does not.

Whether your company is using EDIFACT or ASNI X12, our DCS EDI specialists are ready to help with your EDI needs.  Contact us today for your FREE assessment.