The exchange of information between businesses is just as important as the exchange of the actual goods and services themselves. Which is why Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) has cemented itself as a mainstay in the exchange of critical business documents and information.

With that said, there is a whole range of Transaction sets (T-sets), standards, and structures to account for. Understanding which EDI messaging standard is the best fit for your business is critical to enabling better communications with your partners, suppliers, and manufacturers.

Today we’ll be delving into the EDIFACT DESADV message. Widely used across a variety of manufacturing industries from automotive to pharmaceuticals, DESADV is key to the electronic purchasing process. Keep reading to find out what it includes, its benefits, and how you can apply it to see better coordination with your supply chain partners.

Suggested reading: For more on the EDIFACT standard, check out our explainer: EDIFACT Explained: Message Standards and Transaction Sets.


DESADV (DESpatch ADVice) is a specific T-set within the EDIFACT (Electronic Data Interchange For Administration, Commerce, and Transport) standard. 

The DESADV T-set serves as a critical document in supply chain processes, providing detailed information about the contents, packaging, and transportation details of a dispatched shipment. It is typically sent by a supplier to a buyer, either directly or via a third party, such as a logistics provider.

What are the benefits of EDIFACT DESADV?

The EDIFACT DESADV has several key advantages that make it beneficial to manufacturing industries: 

  1. Advanced notice: The DESADV provides advanced notice of shipment details to buyers and logistics companies, helping them plan and coordinate better to receive the delivery.
  2. Automated data collection and processing: The DESADV can be automatically processed, reducing manual errors and increasing efficiency.
  3. Transparency and traceability: The DESADV enhances transparency and traceability in the supply chain, assisting in inventory management, delivery schedule planning, and tracking.

There are also a variety of use cases that the DESADV T-set can be used for:

  • Packing list: The DESADV can give details about the packaging hierarchy and goods contained within a shipment. 
  • Transportation details: A DESADV document can serve as a reference for information related to transportation, such as the scheduled departure and expected arrival time, identification of the transport means (like the truck or ship’s ID), and route details.
  • Shipment tracking: The DESADV can be used to track and trace a shipment’s movement across the supply chain. It can help identify the current location of the goods and provide details regarding the estimated time of arrival, helping with managing inventory and planning for shipments.
  • Documentation for customs: In some cases, a DESADV can be used to provide documentation for customs when goods are being shipped internationally. The DESADV contains all necessary information, including what goods are being shipped, their quantities, their country of origin, and destination, which are all often needed for customs processing.
  • Delivery schedule management: Since it details the shipment’s expected departure and arrival times, your business can use a DESADV to plan resources and operations accordingly.
  • Purchase order confirmation: A DESADV can be used to confirm the contents of a purchase order. It outlines the specific items and quantities dispatched in response to a given order, allowing buyers to confirm that their orders have been correctly fulfilled.
  • Returns and refund management: If a customer needs to return items, the DESADV can serve as a reference document detailing the items originally dispatched, aiding in managing returns and processing refunds.

Of course, these ultimately vary between whether they closely benefit your customers, suppliers, or both.

What does an EDIFACT DESADV message include?

An EDIFACT DESADV message can include a variety of details on a shipment’s dispatch. This includes, but is not limited to:

UNHUNH+1+DESADV:D:96A:UN’Message header. Specifies the message type (DESADV), version number (96A), and message reference number (1).
BGMBGM+7+4500567890+9′Beginning of message. Specifies the document name code (7 represents Dispatch advice), document number and message function (9 represents Original).
DTMDTM+137:202110180000:203′Date/time/period.137: This is a date/time/period qualifier, which indicates the date the associated transport is expected to depart.202310180000: This is the departure date and time. It is formatted as CCYYMMDDHHMM, which translates to the year 2023, October 18th, at 00:00 hours.203: This defines the format of the date and time provided. In this case, 203 represents the CCYYMMDDHHMM format.
MEAMEA+AAE+GRM:KGM:1250′Measurements. Specifies physical measurements including type of measurement (Gross weight), unit of measurement (Kilograms), and the amount.
RFFRFF+ON:4500567890′Reference. Provides details of a reference, e.g. ON (Order number). In this case, the ON is 4500567890.
NADNAD+BY+792820524::9′Name and address. Specifies party details related to the document message, BY (Buyer) and identification code.
CPSCPS+1+2+3′Defines the hierarchical packing structure of the dispatched goods.
PACPAC+42++CAR’Specifies the packaging sequence and type of packaging used, like carton (CAR).
LOCLOC+7+DEHAM::139:6′Location. Specifies geographical locations for the goods dispatched. DEHAM here represents Hamburg, Germany.
GINGIN+BN+1234567890′Goods identity number. Provides the identity number of the goods.
QTYQTY+1:25:PCE’Quantity. Specifies the quantity and its measurement. In this example, there are 25 pieces (PCE).
UNTUNT+128+1′Message trailer. Marks the end of the message. It also specifies the total number of segments in the message and the same message reference number from UNH.

So a simple DESADV message would look something like this:


In addition to these core elements, a DESADV message can include further details depending on the nature of the shipment and the agreement between the sender and receiver.

The equivalents of EDIFACT DESADV in other EDI formats

The EDIFACT DESADV document is represented differently across various EDI standards. The terminology varies, but the function remains the same. Here’s how different EDI standards refer to the equivalent of a DESADV document:

EDI StandardEquivalent of EDIFACT DESADV
ANSI X12 (ASC X12)856 Ship Notice/Manifest
TRADACOMSDelivery message
VDA4913 Delivery call-off with JIT delivery schedule
EANCOMDESADV Dispatch advice
ODETTEDELINS Delivery Instruction
RosettaNetPIP3A4 Ship Notice

Pro tip: It’s important to note that the actual content of a DESADV message can vary depending on the needs of the businesses involved, the nature of the goods being transported, and any specific requirements based on the mode of transport or regulatory requirements.

How EDIFACT DESADV T-sets are processed

Processing the DESADV T-set is typically done via specialised EDI software. The process generally involves the following steps:

  1. Creation: The DESADV is created by the sender (typically the supplier), detailing the contents, packaging, and transportation information of the dispatch.
  2. EDI Conversion: The DESADV is then converted into a standard EDIFACT DESADV T-set format using an EDI translator. This conversion ensures that the data can be understood and processed by the receiver.
  3. Transmission: The T-set is transmitted electronically via an EDI network to the receiver (buyer or logistic service provider).
  4. Receipt and Translation: Upon receipt, the DESADV T-set is processed by the receiver’s EDI software, which translates it back into a format that can be utilised by the receiver’s systems.
  5. Integration: The data from the DESADV is integrated into systems like Warehouse Management Systems or Enterprise Resource Planning for further internal processing.

Remember that the actual process can vary based on the specific EDI software, network, and internal systems used by the sender and receiver.

Why an EDI partner is key to your success

While EDIFACT is a widely accepted standard, variations can occur between different industries and businesses, which can sometimes cause compatibility issues. Plus, the DESADV T-set can be complex and difficult to implement, particularly for businesses new to EDI.

With that said, relying on an expert-led EDI partner not only helps you make sense of these complexities — the right one can help you form a solution that’s catered to your business needs and demands.

That’s what we at Data Interchange deliver to our clients. As a specialist EDI-managed service provider, we curate EDI solutions that optimise how businesses connect with each other, leading to greater efficiencies across the board.
To find out how we can help support your business today, just get in touch to talk to one of our experts.

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