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IDENTIFIERS

Your Trading Partner is addressed by a unique identifier in the receiver field of the X12 ISA or UN/EDIFACT UNB interchange header segment. This identifier is all the 10-10-EDISM network needs in order to track down your trading partner and send your interchange on to him. Likewise, you always identify yourself in the corresponding sender field - your identifier will be sufficient for your trading partner to return yet other interchanges with functional or business acknowledgements.

RosettaNet and other e-business initiatives choose to identify every partner using the same ID domain, such as D-U-N-S (or DUNS). This is very effective in supply chain, where the D-U-N-S identifier domain has universal coverage of business entities.

In other industries, such as healthcare, it may be impossible for all participants to identify themselves using identifiers from the same domain. An individual unincorporated practitioner might not have a D-U-N-S assigned to her. Instead, providers - physicians, clinics or hospitals - may prefer to always identify themselves with their Federal Tax ID Number (TIN). You would then address such a partner using the TIN in the ISA receiver field. At times, a hospital may choose to use its Health Industry Number (HIN) for procurement transactions, but the D-U-N-S when exchanging administrative HIPAA standard transactions with payers. On the other hand, insurance companies may choose to be identified with their NAIC Company codes.

The UCC/EAN Global Location Number (GLN) is gradually displacing the D-U-N-S in the retail product supply chain, which includes consumer product manufacturers, retailers and grocers. For more information, see the Global Location Number (GLN) Implementation Guide  (PDF: 147k). Another common identifier type is the Standard Carrier Alpha Code (SCAC), favored by transportation carriers. Examples of SCACs for a number of carriers can be found at the U.S. Census Bureau's Automated Export System Support Center and the Army's Military Traffic Management Command Center (PDF: 33k). These lists are by no means exhaustive; for the complete list you will have to buy the NMFTA's Directory of Standard Carrier Alpha Codes.

The SSN: The Mark of the Beast Novannet can accommodate partners regardless of the identifier type they prefer to be "known" by. An individual partner may even have more than one identifier, or "name." In fact, most businesses have at least one ID from multiple domains. For example, corporations almost certainly have both a D-U-N-S and a TIN. A commercial insurance carrier has not only a D-U-N-S and a TIN, but also a NAIC Company code. Some companies even have more than one ID from the same domain: it's easy to have multiple D-U-N-S numbers due to mergers or acquisitions. The Federal Tax ID number used for companies (the " Employer ID Number" or EIN) doesn't have the same weaknesses as the Social Security Number (SSN) used for individuals as it's almost never used for authentication, but only for identification. Even so, some incorporated entities may still prefer not to use it to identify themselves, instead favoring the D-U-N-S.

It's not difficult to find your partner's identifier, as he should know his own standard identifier(s). When printed or displayed, punctuation is typically used to make the printed ID more readable. But within EDI - including the ISA receiver field - dashes in the D-U-N-S or the Tax ID would not be present.

Identifiers - other than the Social Security Number - can't be used for authentication, as there's generally nothing secret about them. You can easily find a company's D-U-N-S, even if it didn't give it to you. And one can easily find out what an insurance company's NAIC Company code is, even if the payer doesn't give it out. Since IDs are unique and easy to discover, they make ideal EDI IDs - but lousy passwords!

The X12 ISA is capable of identifying senders and receivers by any ID in a large number of domains. For example, your partner is identified by his D-U-N-S in the ISA08 Interchange Receiver ID if code "01" - meaning "Duns (Dun & Bradstreet)" - appears in the ISA07 Interchange ID qualifier field. The UN/EDIFACT UNB has similar techniques for identifying partners using standard identifiers.

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