Nov 2019
What Are the Differences Between ANSI X12 and EDIFACT
(Last Updated On: November 22, 2019)


Doing business and interacting with trading partners is associated with the need to prepare, send, receive and process a large number of documents. Today, around the world, almost all enterprises from small businesses to large corporations use EDI (Electronic Data Interchanges) to communicate with business partners.

The most common standards that are used in all Industries are ANSI ASC X12 (X12) and UN/EDIFACT (EDIFACT). Both standards serve to exchange documents electronically and execute business processes between trading partners. The two standards are quite similar, however, there are numerous ways in which ANSI X12 and EDIFACT are different. In this article, we will compare the two most popular standards.

EDI Standards in Europe and North America

The first difference between the two EDI standards is the geographic location of users.

– X12 mainly used in the United States and North America in general.

– EDIFACT is mostly used by companies based in Europe and Asia.

ANSI X12 and EDIFACT Standards Developers

ANSI ASC X12 Standard is developed and maintained by the Accredited Standards Committee X12 (also known as ASC X12) chartered by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in 1979.

EDIFACT – Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transport. This standard is developed and supported by two international organizations: The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

ANSI X12 and EDIFACT Document Structure

Basically, the structures of X12 and EDIFACT are similar. Both standards have principally the same structure but use different terminologies.

The figure below shows the structure of X12 and EDIFACT documents that contain Interchange, Functional Group, Transaction set.

x12 vs EDIFACT

For more information on the structure of EDI documents, please read these articles:

– EDI ANSI ASC X12 Standards – Technical Overview

– What is EDIFACT? | UN / EDIFACT standard overview

EDI Terminologies

As it was mentioned above, ANSI X12 and EDIFACT have different terminologies. The table below demonstrates the difference between both standards.

Terminologies Equivalence EDI X12 EDIFACT
An electronic business document, such as an Invoice, Purchase Order, etc. Transaction Set Message
The blocks of multiple segments of the same type grouped together. Loops Groups
Special characters to differentiate segments and elements Terminator Separators
Interchange Control
Functional Group
GS/GE UNG/UNE (optional)
Transaction Set, (Message)



X12 and EDIFACT use special characters to separate segments and elements in the document.

– ANSI X12 to separate segments generally uses a tilde ( ~ ) and to terminate elements asterisk ( * )
– EDIFACT normally uses a period ( . ) between segments and a plus ( + ) within elements.

However, both EDI standards allow customization, and different characters can be used, depending on the implementation.


A Composite Element is a group (two or more) simple elements separated by a Composite Separator symbol. Composite Element is used in both standards; however, Composite Element is very commonly used in EDIFACT.

– X12 uses a symbol Greater Than ( > )

– EDIFACT separates composite elements with a colon symbol ( : )


Both EDI standards use Acknowledgments.

– X12 uses a Functional Acknowledgment or 997 transaction set. An EDI 997 serves as a response, to acknowledge that an EDI transaction was received. TA1 served for describes errors at the ISA level.

– EDIFACT uses CONTRL acknowledgments, which is like the X12 997 Acknowledgments.

X12 Transaction Number and EDIFACT ID

– In the ANSI X12 standard, all documents have 3-digit numbers, for example, 810 for an Invoice, 846 for an Inventory Inquiry and Advice, 856 for Advanced Ship Notice.

– According to the EDIFACT rule, the name of the document must be limited to 6 letters, for example, INVOIC derived from the word Invoice, INVRPT for Inventory report, DESADV is the abbreviation for Despatch Advice.

Different types of EDI documents: ANSI X12 vs EDIFACT

The following table lists some of the key ANSI X12 Transaction Sets with the corresponding EDIFACT messages.

  X12 No EDIFACT ID Name Usage
  810 INVOIC Invoice Used to receive payment for goods or services provided
  820 REMADV Payment
Order/Remittance Advice
Used to transmit information relating to payments
  830 DELFOR Planning Schedule Used to share with the supplier’s forecast purchase plans
  832 PRICAT Price/Sales Catalog Used to request or provide prices and product information.
  846 INVRPT Inventory Inquiry/Advice Used to communicate inventory levels. edi 846, EDI 846, edifact INVENTORY 
  850 ORDERS Purchase Order Used to place an order for goods or services.  Purchase Order  EDI x12 850 
  852 SLSRPT Product Activity Data Used to provide inventory, sales, and other product activity information.
  855 ORDRSP Purchase Order
Used as an acknowledgment of the purchase order
  856 DESADV Advance Ship Notice (or Dispatch Advice in EDIFACT) Used to inform the recipient in advance, about the contents of the shipment.
  860 ORDCHG PO Change (Customer triggered) Used to communicate order changes to the supplier.
  865 ORDRSP PO Change
(Supplier triggered)
Used for acceptance or rejection of changes to a previously submitted purchase order
  997 CONTRL Functional Acknowledgment Used to acknowledge that an EDI transaction, was received.


EDI Standards for special Industry

In addition to EDIFACT and ANSI X12 discussed above, there are many other EDI standards that were developed as a result of specialized business requirements in various industries. For example:

  1. RosettaNet used mostly in the electronic chip and technology Industry.
  2. HIPAA and HL7 for Healthcare and Health Insurance.
  3. ODETTE for the automotive industry in Europe.
  4. SWIFT for exchanges messages between banks and financial institutions.

EDI Integration

For clients who do not have the resources to do ANSI X12 or EDIFACT in house, we, at EDI2XML offer Fully managed EDI Services.

For companies who got their own technical resources to work with REST API we offer them to use EDI REST Web Service.

EDI2XML is an EDI service provider with 20+ years of expertise in EDI and integration projects. We have clients located in North America, Europe, and the Middle East and work with all EDI standards including ANSI X12 and EDIFACT. Contact us if you have any questions or EDI integration needs.

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