Skip to main content

Part 4. UN/EDIFACT Rules - Chapter 2. UNSMs

CHAPTER 2.1 - Establishment of United Nations Standard Message types (UNSMs)

* The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN/ECE) embraces Western, Eastern and Central Europe as well as Canada and the United States. It comprises 53 member states; in addition, any member country of the United Nations may participate in UN/ECE meetings on a subject in which they have an interest (Article 11 of the ECE terms of reference). Approved inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations may participate in certain committees.
  The UN/ECE Working Party on Facilitation of International Trade Procedures (WP.4) is a subsidiary body of the Committee on the development of trade (TRADE). It is comprised of experts on data elements and automatic data interchange (GE.1) and experts on procedures and documentation (GE.2) which are appointed by their governments or by organizations recognized by UN/ECE.
  UN/EDIFACT Rapporteurs are nominated by a government and appointed by WP.4. They are requested to implement an agreed common mandate: 
  1. to set up a consultative machinery, 
  2. to establish the facilities required to develop, maintain and implement the UN/ECE Recommendations on standards as they relate to syntax, data elements, segments, message design guidelines and message types.
  3. to develop and offer technical assessment facilities where appropriate 
  4. to develop any other appropriate documentation and procedures to assist in the implementation of the UN/ECE Recommendations on EDI.
  5. to provide co-ordination facilities between the Rapporteurs and the WP.4 Secretariat.

 A Rapporteur has the agreed mandate for an area of jurisdiction and establishes a supporting Rapporteur's Team (RT) with Working Groups (WG) for specific areas.
 Normally, items of work in the UN/EDIFACT programme are joint RT activities but in some cases an item can be studied by one RT only. For joint RT activities, Joint Working Groups (JWG) must be established. The RT through which an item is first approved for development is referred to as the originating RT.
 The following procedures have been agreed for the development of UN Standard Message types (UNSMs) and related documentation. For more detailed information see document UN/ECE/TRADE/WP.4/R.785.
  Requests for a new UNSM or for changes to an existing UNSM.

 Requests for a new UNSM or for changes to existing UNSMs and for those in formal trial, including their supporting material may originate from any national or international organization or association or from an RT or its WG and should be based on identified, common business requirements. Such requests should be submitted to the secretariat of the relevant RT or to the UN/ECE/TRADE/WP.4 secretariat.

  Draft document, Status 0

 When a RT or JWG has processed a request for a new message type and has prepared a draft according to its procedures which must include technical assessment, the originating RT can give it status 0 and submit it to WP.4 as soon as possible for information only.

  Draft proposal for formal trial

 When all RTs formally agree that a draft document has reached a level of stability such that it can be considered by WP.4 as a draft for formal trial, the Rapporteurs will submit it to WP.4 with a recommendation for formal trial status (Status 1). If a recommendation for status 1 is not accepted by WP.4, the status of the message type remains 0.

  Draft Recommendation for formal trial, Status 1

 WP.4 approves draft proposals for formal trial, Status 1. Such message types are given a trial period of normally 6 months to one year and users interested in taking part in the trial can get the message type specifications and supporting documentation from the WP.4 and RT secretariats or through national WP.4 member secretariats.

  Recommendation, Status 2

 When the results of the trial have been agreed and processed by the responsible JWG and the RTs, the Rapporteurs will submit a proposal to WP.4 for approval as a UNSM.

 Within each document status 0 to status 2 there may be revisions. In order to ensure precise identification, the type, version, release, controlling agency, status and date are indicated on the cover sheet for each message type and correspondingly in the message header segment (UNH), the type, version, release and controlling agency.
 Message types and their supporting material are published as follows:
  • Status 0 (Draft documents) as WP.4 information documents
  • Status 1 (UNSM for formal trial) in UN/EDIFACT DRAFT Directories
  • Status 2 (UNSM) in Trade Data Interchange Directories (UNTDID) also known as STANDARD directories. Status 2 messages, in their latest form (which may or may not include revisions) are also included in each new edition of the DRAFT directories