If this is your first time exchanging X12 documents, you may be wondering which communication identifiers to supply your trading partner. Identifiers can be requested for ISA (interchange envelope) and GS segments (functional group) and can differ between production and test transactions. So, you can have between 1 and 4 identifiers depending on your trading partner's requirements or your EDI needs.
If you can avoid it, for simplicity, we recommend using the same identifiers for both ISA and GS segments. For test and production messages however, it can either simplify or complicate your setup to use the same identifiers both ways. For example, if you intend on handling test and production messages in separate channels, choosing different identifiers can be a good way to route messages one way or another.
An X12 communication ID involves two parts:
- A 2 character code indicating what your identifier represents. X12 refers to this code as the qualifier.
- A maximum 15 character free text (but stick to letters and numbers) which is the ID itself.
Although X12 authorizes all sorts of identifiers. These are the most common:
- ZZ - Mutually defined: This one is the simplest. You will typically use your company name. For most protocols, all you need is for this identifier to be unique among your trading partner's partners. However, if you decide to register on a VAN (value added network) your identifier will need to be unique accross more or less the north American market. And depending on your company name, this may not be the best identifier choice. Also, note that you should be careful about any special characters you would use in your identifier since they could end up being used as separators in your dealings with trading partners and may end up involuntarily breaking the structure of your message.
- 01 - DUNS: Most common especially among retailers and naturally unique.
- 12 - Phone: This one is naturally unique as well although not as telling from a human point of view.
For example, if Babelway were to opt for a mutually defined identifier, our ISA might look like this (note the "ZZ*BABELWAY"):
ISA*59* *59* *12*9419442114 *ZZ*BABELWAY *171594*1924*|*59423*159595912*2*P*~
This is the list of codes for X12 version 4010. Note that this list can differ slightly depending on the X12 standard. It's possible earlier versions don't support some of these codes.