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For businesses and individuals who are new to Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) it can be a task to understand all the fundamentals.

Many questions may arise while learning the basics of EDI. What does EDI do? What is an EDI message protocol? What is an EDI number? Etc. Whilst we recommend leaving the complex ins-and-outs of how EDI works to your trusted EDI provider, we recognise it’s also useful to have a basic understanding at least.

In this blog series, EDI basics, we answer your burning EDI questions and break-down (the sometimes confusing) industry terminology. The content below covers “what is an EDI number?”…

Knowledge is power

Discover everything you need to know about EDI, client case studies, and the latest industry news in our dedicated Knowledge Hub.

EDI number definition

An EDI number is more commonly known as a Global Location Number (GLN).

This is a unique number that is assigned to a specific location. The GLN enables the location to be uniquely identified worldwide. GLNs can be used to identify any legal, physical and functional location.

By definition, GLNs are reference keys to computer files, where information about the company or location can be found.

Therefore, GLNs replace the names and addresses of locations, making them particularly useful when automating processes.

Uses of EDI numbers

EDI numbers (GLNs) have specific uses within business processes.

As explained above, GLNs can be assigned to any location that needs to be uniquely identified for administrative and trading purposes. Some examples of the most common administrative and trading purposes are listed below:

  • GLNs must be used within EDI messages to identify locations and trading partners

  • GLNs can be used in barcodes to identify a physical location or to provide relevant information for delivery/invoicing purposes

Benefits of an EDI number

There are some key benefits of EDI numbers.

GLNs provide a single method of identifying locations across the entire supply chain, which ensures consistency and clarity for all trading partners. The location which is assigned to a GLN number can be either an internal location or a location that partners in your trading network will use.

By using GLNs, unnecessary costs and associated errors are omitted. This is because they allow computers to route information to the correct destination with no manual involvement. This is a key principal of EDI messaging – where information is automatically formatted and exchanged with trading partners. EDI ensures consistency for all parties involved and allows businesses to conduct trade in a much more efficient way.


eDI Software

Learn more about EDI and how it could benefit your business by accessing our Knowledge Hub – a huge resource packed full of all the information you could need. Alternatively, you can contact our helpful team on 0845 123 3746 (calling from the UK) or +44 1978 369 343 (for international callers), or contact us via email sales@transalis.com


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