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Requirements for: Orders shipped to DoD customers and orders shipped via the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Transportation Network

All shipments, including parcel delivery, to DoD customers in the Contiguous United States (CONUS) and to customers Outside the Contiguous United States (OCONUS) that are shipped via the DLA transportation network, must adhere to DoD standards on marking, labeling, and packaging shipments, which are published in Military Standard 129R (MIL-STD-129R): Military Marking for Shipment and Storage Standards.

Sections of note in this document include:

  • Identification text marking
  • Address marking
  • Identification bar code marking
  • Special marks and labels

Military Shipping Labels (MSLs)

MSLs and address markings, are required on all shipments (including parcel delivery) destined for DoD customers or transported via the DLA transportation network at every packaging level. The following information is required on every MSL:

  • Transportation Control Number (TCN) – Including a linear barcode
  • Transportation Account Code (TAC)
  • Consignor Address - Including vendor Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) code
  • Type of Service (Priority)/Postage
  • Ship to Address/Point of Entry (POE)
  • Port of Embarkation
  • Project Code
  • Ultimate Consignee/Mark for Address - Including customer DoDAAC and linear barcode
  • Weight (lbs.)
  • Required Delivery Date (RDD)
  • Cube (ft.)
  • Piece Number
  • MSL 2D (PDF417) Bar code

Please note that different variations of the MSL are required if it is applied at unit and intermediate level, or at the exterior transit pack level, and the different variations require different pieces of information.

This MIL-STD-129R Marking Guide can help you better understand how to label your package in accordance with MIL-STD-129R.

Identification Marking Requirements

In addition to the MSLs, identification marking is required at the unit pack, intermediate pack, and exterior container levels to enable receipt process information and storage process information for accurate stock accounting of vendor sourced material. Unless specifically exempted in the contract or solicitation, the identification marking shall be applied to all DoD and contractor-originated, or vendor-originated , shipments.

Here is the guidance for the identification marking requirements on:

In addition, in cooperation with the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), GSA is exploring a way to make the Vendor Shipment Module (VSM) available to vendors who wish to automatically create and print a compliant commercial bill of lading, military shipping labels, packing slips address labels and small parcel carrier labels. The VSM system is a web based, front-end application interfaced to the Defense Security Service (DSS) mainframe. It is also capable of full Electronic Data Interface (EDI) integration at the vendor location. Although the EDI version is more complex and may require more programming in order to integrate it into production systems, the payoff includes higher volume shipping capacity and eliminates human intervention in the process.

DLA has posted an informative video that explains the benefits of VSM and how to implement the VSM within your organization. For a "hands-on" experience while watching the video, you are encouraged to attain a DLA VSM account in order to log into DLA VSM. More information regarding the availability of GSA’s rollout of VSM will be forthcoming.

OCONUS Bound Freight – DLA Consolidation and Containerization Points (CCP) Criteria

OCONUS bound freight that is destined for a DoD customer or is being processed via the DLA transportation network may pass through a DLA Consolidation and Containerization Point (CCP). Certain products and shipments, however, are not eligible to go to the DLA CCP. See the CCP’s eligibility criteria (5-2010) for more information, particularly regarding marking and labeling requirements. Also see the CCP Eligibility Criteria Document (6-2008) which covers a much broader range of topics such as, such as commodity codes, HazMat Codes, classified material. etc.

GSA has developed an agreement with DLA to process GSA shipments outside of the CCP eligible shipments through their facilities. Therefore, all GSA shipments for export through the DLA transportation network, will be processed through DLA CCPs for preparation to next nodes of transportation (Ocean Terminals, Aerial Ports, and Intermodal Hubs). The Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command Customer / Carrier Advisory (January 15, 2015) CA-15-01/15-0006 provides the latest guidance on shipping through DLA CCPs. In addition, the GSA Freight Routing Guide covers much of the same information from the GSA perspective.

Financial and Air Clearance Transportation System (FACTS) Criteria

All DoD cargo that is offered for air movement through the GSA streamlined high priority process, must be submitted through the FACTS for air clearance. The following links provide additional guidance on FACTS compliance requirements:

Vendor Non-Compliance

All GSA vendors must adhere to General Services Administration Acquisition Manual (GSAM) clause 552.211-73, Marking, which stipulates all deliveries to military activities, including shipments and parcel deliveries that go via the DLA or any DTS Consolidation or forwarding nodes , must be compliant with MIL-STD-129R regulations. Vendor non-compliance with MIL-STD-129R may result in frustrated freight that cannot move to the next transportation node. If GSA is required to resolve frustrated freight or resolve any other discrepancy created by a vendor and/or if GSA incurs any costs or fees because of vendor freight problems, then the vendor may be assessed financial penalties and/or other contractual remedies may be levied.

Requirements for: Orders shipped directly to Civilian Agencies

All GSA vendors must follow General Services Administration Acquisition Manual (GSAM) clause 552.211-73, which stipulates that all deliveries going directly to Civilian Agencies (and do not use the DLA transportation network) must be marked, labeled, and packaged in accordance with Federal Standard 123-H (FED-STD-123H).

FED-STD-123-H Compliant Labels

Shipments that go directly to Civilian agencies must have labels that are compliant with FED-STD-123-H. The different types of labels include:

Unit and intermediate package labels: Must include the data elements listed in FED-STD-123-H.

Transport packages labels: Must include the data elements listed in FED-STD-123-H.

FED-STD-123H Marking Requirements

Marking shall be clear, legible, permanent, and in English. All required markings must be located on at least one side of the package, preferably the end panel. Required marking shall be oriented in a palletized load so that it is visible to the handler. Transport packages and unit loads shall not be marked on the top or bottom of the carton. Labels and tags must be securely attached to the item or package.

Material regulated by Federal laws or regulations shall be marked in accordance with those requirements.

All individual transport packages (including those in unit loads) shall be marked with characters at least 9mm (3/8 inch) high. If space does not permit this, smaller characters may be used. Bar code information must be readable by scanning devices through stretch wrap like material.

Each palletized or unitized load must have two labels affixed to adjacent sides of the load.

Transport packages containing one NSN and are consolidated into Unit Loads moving in a full truckload or carload shipments do not require the consignor and consignee information on the transport packages or all unit loads. The shipping label with the consignor and consignee information shall be located on the two unit loads closest to the door of the truck or carload shipment.

FED-STD-123H Special Marking

Special marking may be required by the contract or purchase order. This may the following data: requisition number (REQN), priority code (PRI), project code (PRO J), required delivery date (RDD), and transportation control number (TCN).

Requirements for: Marking, Labeling, and Shipping HAZMAT Materials

Preservation, packaging, packing, marking and labeling of domestic and overseas HAZMAT surface shipments shall comply with all of the requirements in:

International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) code

U.S. DoT Hazardous Material Regulations (HMR) 49 CFR: Parts 171 through 180

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Regulation 29 CFR Part 1910.1200

Any preservation, packaging, packing, and marking and labeling requirements contained elsewhere in the solicitation

If your contract contains the clause:

D-FSS-440 - Test reports showing compliance with packing requirements shall be made available to GSA contract administration/management upon request.

D-FSS-471 - All items ordered must be marked with indelible, ink, paint or fluid, and should include the following information:

  • Traffic Management or Transportation Officer at FINAL destination.
  • Ordering Supply Account Number.
  • Account number.
  • Delivery Order or Purchase Order Number.
  • National Stock Number, if applicable; or Contractor's item number.
  • Box ________ of ________ Boxes.
  • Nomenclature (brief description of items).

D-FSS-477 - Separate Charge for Performance Oriented Packaging (POP) - Quotes for a separate charge for providing preservation, packaging, packing, marking, and labeling of domestic and overseas hazmat surface shipments in compliance with all requirements are requested. Additionally:

  • 2 copies of the DD Form 1387 must be attached to each shipping container delivered to the port transportation officer for subsequent transshipment by the government as otherwise provided for under the terms of this contract. These forms should be attached to one end and one side (not the top or bottom) of the container.
  • If the cargo consists of chemicals, or is dangerous, one copy of the DD Form 1387 must be attached to the container, and 3 copies must be furnished to the transportation officer with the bill of lading.
  • Dangerous cargo must not be intermingled with non-dangerous cargo in the same container.

Vendor Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) Shipping Instructions

GSA is transitioning to Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) as the preferred method of sending orders to vendors as part of the vendor direct delivery program, which supports the Federal Acquisition Service’s performance goals of operating efficiently and effectively. EDI is the electronic interchange of business information using a standardized format. EDI transaction sets are utilized by GSA Global Supply to identify, process, and track all vendor direct orders. Vendor direct orders are orders that customers place through GSA and are processed and shipped directly by the vendor. The types of vendor direct orders that can be processed via EDI are:

  • Call center orders
  • Internet (GSA Global Supply online store or GSA Advantage!)
  • Fax
  • E-Mail
  • FEDSTRIP (as part number requisition)

Types of EDI Transactions

There are multiple types of EDI transactions. The most common types of EDI transactions are:

  • The 850 Purchase Order Transaction Set - Created for each order transmitted to the vendor. 850 transaction sets are transmitted every hour, seven days a week, providing the data for the vendor to properly identify and ship the product(s) to the customer.
  • The 856 Ship Notice/ Manifest Transaction Set – Used to list the contents of a shipment of goods as well as additional information relating to the shipment. This information includes: order information, product description, physical characteristics, type of packaging, marking, carrier information, and configuration of goods within the transportation equipment. The vendor is required to send this transaction within 24 hours after an order has been shipped to a customer.
  • The 997 Functional Acknowledgement Transaction Set - The vendor’s acknowledgement of the receipt of an 850 transaction set. It needs to be sent within 24 hours of receiving the 850 transaction set.

EDI References

Learn more about EDI, electronic communications through GSA’s EDI gateway, vendor on-boarding to EDI, government to business transactions using EDI, Business to government transactions via EDI, and EDI testing.

If you are just getting started on EDI, this EDI start-up kit will help you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What happens when shipments are not marked, labeled, or packaged in accordance with the required regulations?

    What happens when shipments are not marked, labeled, or packaged in accordance with the required regulations?
    If shipments are not marked, labeled, or packaged properly, there is the possibility that it will be impeded or stopped in transit, creating frustrated freight, or it will not meet the customer’s requirements, reducing customer satisfaction and the chance of repeat business. Frustrated freight is particularly important as it directly costs GSA money to resolve the problems, can result in duplicative orders, and impedes agencies’ missions if they are not able to receive the necessary supplies.

  2. What is frustrated freight and how can I prevent it?

    What is frustrated freight and how can I prevent it?
    Frustrated freight is a term that is used to describe a shipment that has been stopped or impeded in transit. To prevent shipments becoming frustrated, ensure that you are utilizing the correct shipping standard and are fully compliant with all of the requirements. See the sections on MIL-STD-129R and FED-STD-123H requirements above for specific details. Also, see the attached "Sept 2015 - Cheat Sheet - Tips to Avoid Frustrated Freight at Consolidation and Containerization Points" that quickly explains the key information that you need to address to ensure your freight does not become frustrated.

  3. What two pieces of information, when missing, routinely cause frustrated freight?

    What two pieces of information, when missing, routinely cause frustrated freight?
    The two most important data elements to include on a label are the Transportation Control Number (TCN) and the ultimate consignee address. The TCN allows the handlers to look up information specific to the shipment that keeps it moving, even if the end user changes locations. The ultimate consignee address information allows for shipments to be consolidated when they are being shipped to OCONUS locations, ensuring that the shipment is routed correctly.

    *Please note that these are not the only reasons that cause frustrated freight.

  4. Are there consequences if my shipments become frustrated?
    Are there consequences if my shipments become frustrated?

    Yes, there are penalties for vendors whose packages routinely become frustrated. For supply contracts, Clause 522.211-76 dictates that GSA can charge a vendor for re-marking changes when the rate is included in the contract. The current GSA established rate is $150 for the first hour of labor required to re-mark the shipment, and $70 for each additional labor hour. A minimum charge of 2 hours is applied for each occurrence of frustrated freight. These charges are a result of frustrated freight causing duplicative orders and impacting the missions of the organizations ordering the shipments.

    For vendors who repeatedly have frustrated freight, the occurrences can also be noted in the contact’s past performance.

  5. Where can I find easy to follow instructions and examples of compliant shipping labels?

    Where can I find easy to follow instructions and examples of compliant shipping labels?
    Easy to follow instructions can be found in Instructions for Military Standard 129 Compliance. Examples of compliant labels can be found on page 7 of FED-STD-123H. Examples of compliant labels can be found on page 29 of MIL-STD-129R or the Sample MSL, or on the Shipping Label Examples.

  6. Where can I find more information about how to select the correct packaging?

    Where can I find easy to follow instructions and examples of compliant shipping labels?
    Easy to follow instructions can be found in Instructions for Military Standard 129 Compliance. Examples of compliant labels can be found on page 7 of FED-STD-123H. Examples of compliant labels can be found on page 29 of MIL-STD-129R or the Sample MSL, or on the Shipping Label Examples.

  7. What is a TCN and where do I find it?
    What is a TCN and where do I find it?

    The Transportation Control Number (TCN) is a unique 17 character alphanumeric identifier. It is used to manage products that are destined for OCONUS locations through every stage of the supply chain to ensure the shipment is moving in the right direction and delivered to the correct end user.

    The TCN configuration is as follows:


    The TCN for shipments is provided to vendors on the purchase order in box 10 on page 11.
    See the attached power point presentation, which includes illustrations showing where you can find the TCN on GSA Form, 3186, GSA Advantage Orders, and EDI 856.

  8. What do I put for the NSN if my commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) product does not have an NSN assigned and my shipment is subject to FED-STD-123H?

    What do I put for the NSN if my commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) product does not have an NSN assigned and my shipment is subject to FED-STD-123H?
    Instead of NSN, vendor must put the manufacturer’s part number of COTS product when it does not have an NSN assigned.

  9. What is a DoDAAC?
    What is a DoDAAC?

    The Department of Defense Address Activity Code (DoDAAC) is a six position alphanumeric code that uniquely identifies a unit, activity, or organization that has the authority to requisition and/or receive materials. The DoDAAC is how shipment handlers identify where the shipments need to go.

    Civilian Agencies have a version of the DoDAAC that is referred to as the Address Activity Code (AAC) and functions in the same capacity.

    Find more information about DoDAACs and AACs.

  10. How can I obtain a customer's DoDAAC?
    How can I obtain a customer's DoDAAC?

    You should be able to rely on the DoDAAC provided in the contract or order. You can also verify the DoDAAC with the customer or by accessing this website.

    Note: this link will bring you to a main screen and then to a selection screen, which will have the DoDAAC on the left side. Click on the DoDAAC selection then you can then look up the DoDAAC.

    The DoDAAC is also provided in the first six positions of the TCN.

  11. What should I do if I have any questions about compliance with MIL-STD-129R pricing?

    What should I do if I have any questions about compliance with MIL-STD-129R pricing?
    If vendors have any questions about compliance with MIL-STD-129R pricing and/or the terms and conditions of the contract, they should contact their GSA contracting officer.

  12. Are there commercially available software packages that can create compliant labels?

    Are there commercially available software packages that can create compliant labels?
    Yes. Various commercial firms offer software that can make MIL-STD-129R and FED-STD-123H compliant labels. The fees vary and vendors who choose to use these vendors must ensure the functionality will generate all required data fields, as well as comply with all contractual stipulations.

  13. Is there a guide for converting box dimensions?

    Is there a guide for converting box dimensions?
    A guide for converting box dimensions can be found here.

  14. How do I know if my package will be transported through DLA’s transportation network?
    How do I know if my package will be transported through DLA’s transportation network?

    All GSA cargo for export will be transported via the DLA distribution facilities in route to their next nodes of transportation (Ocean Terminals, Aerial Ports, Intermodal Hubs). Generally, a customer’s DoDAAC must be eligible and loaded within the CCP DSS tables in order for shipments to be sent to the two DLA consolidation points. However, GSA has developed an agreement with DLA to process GSA shipments outside of the CCP eligible shipments through their facilities. One way that you can determine if the customer is CCP eligible is to run a query on the DODAAD website, which requires registration.

    Once registered, you can go to DLA Transaction Services site to determine CCP eligible DODAAC/AAC.

    NOTE: The shipper is responsible for determining if the customer is CCP eligible by running a query in the DODAAD website.

    Also, see the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command Customer / Carrier Advisory (January 15, 2015) CA-15-01/15-0006 and the GSA Freight Routing Guide both of which provide guidance for shipments of cargo eligible to transit DLAs two CCPs.

  15. What is a Military Shipping Label (MSL) 2D bar code?
    What is a Military Shipping Label (MSL) 2D bar code?

    A MSL 2D (PDF417) bar code is a way of encoding the MSL in-the-clear text data, selected elements of the Transportation Control and Movement Document (TCMD) data, including the respective TCMD trailer data for the labeled shipment unit, and selected supply line item information. The Unique Item Identifier (UII) shall be included in the 2D bar code for unit moves only when an item has been assigned a UII.

    All shipment unit data and line item data in the MSL 2D (PDF417) bar code replicates data from the three sources noted below:

    Source 1: Header TCMD data. The unit move transportation tracking number (TTN) is included with this source category.

    Source 2: Supply documentation (DD Form 1348-1A) bar code data or contract data that includes item unique identification code (IUID) information, as applicable, for each supply line item packaged within the shipment unit.

    Source 3: Shipment information entered in-the-clear on the MSL.

    Note that the MSL 2D bar code is limited to only 1000 characters of information.

  16. Where are the DLA Consolidation and Containerization (CCPs) located and who are the POCs?
    Where are the DLA Consolidation and Containerization (CCPs) located and who are the POCs:
    Tracy CCP:New Cumberland CCP:
    Address:
    Consolidation and Containerization
    DDJC Tracy Warehouse 30, CCP
    25600 South Chrisman Road
    Tracy, California 95304
    Tracy POCs:
    Ted Hackney:
    Phone: (209) 839-4281
    Email: Theodore.Hackney@DLA.MIL
    Address:
    Consolidation and Containerization Point
    Defense Depot Susquehanna
    Building 2001
    New Cumberland, PA 17070-5001
    New Cumberland POC's:
    Phone: (717) 770-4754 and then select option 1
    Email: delivery@dla.mil
  17. What are the 5 most common marking and labeling errors for OCONUS shipments?
    What are the 5 most common marking and labeling errors for OCONUS shipments?

    No Military Shipping Label: A Military Shipping Label (MSL) is required for all shipments to DoD customers or shipments transported via the DLA transportation network. The shipping label should be prepared in accordance with paragraph 5.2.2 Military Shipping Label (MSL).

    Missing TCN and Mark For (M/F) information: These markings are necessary as they identify the ultimate consignee to the transshipment points (CCPs, APOEs, etc) and are used for overseas routing.

    No Bar Code Markings: Bar code markings are required on all containers and loose or unpacked items. The National Stock Number (NSN) shall be bar coded on all unit packs and intermediate containers. The exterior container must be bar coded with the NSN and the contract or purchase order number. When shipments are destined for OCONUS locations address markings must be placed on a bar coded DD Form 1387.

    Wrong Method of Preservation: When material is being shipped OCONUS the Method of Preservation is very important. If using the wrong or inadequate Method of Preservation for the item, the material may be damaged by corrosion, contamination, or deterioration of the item, among other causes.

    Inadequate Shipping Container: If the level of shipping container is inadequate for OCONUS shipments the items and containers may be damaged by environmental elements, multiple handling of the containers, outside storage, etc.

  18. Where can I find more information about DoD Palletized Unit Load standards, MIL-STD-147?

    Where can I find more information about DoD Palletized Unit Load standards, MIL-STD-147?
    See MIL-STD-147 to access the entire standard.

  19. What does an acronym in this document mean?

    What does an acronym in this document mean?
    Find a complete listing of all of the acronyms used in this document and what they mean here.

  20. What is the correct procedure for sending Purchase Orders to Navy ships?

    What is the correct procedure for sending Purchase Orders to Navy ships?
    The correct procedure is to call the NAVSUP number listed below for disposition instructions from the Navy, prior to shipping it anywhere, including prior to shipping to CCPs.USS NEVERSAIL CVN000
    CALL NAVSUP WSS T&D 757-443-5434
    DSN 646-5434 OCONUS 312-646-5434

  21. What address should be used for APO / FPO shipments?

    What address should be used for APO / FPO shipments?
    Please ship to the APO/FPO address on Purchase Order.

  22. What are the requirements for Foreign Military Sales (FMS) shipments?
    What are the requirements for Foreign Military Sales (FMS) shipments?

    When materiel is shipped via the DTS to an OCONUS destination (DTC 9 or 7), the shipper is responsible for sending advance notices of incoming shipments to the Security Cooperation Office in the receiving country. These documents include the DD1348-1, Single Line Item Release/Receipt Document; DD 250, Materiel Inspection and receiving Report or Wide Area Workflow (WAWF) equivalent; or DD1149, Requisition and Invoice/Shipping Document; ocean bills of lading; reports of shipment (REPSHIP) messages; and cargo traffic messages. It is necessary for these documents to be received in country prior to the arrival of the freight in order for the SCO to coordinate with the purchasing customer to clear the materiel through customs. These documents must be sent to the TAC 5 or 6 address in the MAPAD. When no TAC 5 or 6 address is listed for the applicable MAPAC, the documents should be sent to the same TAC 1 or 2 address as the shipment itself.

    See the FMS USER Guide and DoD 4500.9-R, Defense Transportation Regulation, Volume II, Appendix E for detailed information. You may also send emails to FMS.INQUIRIES@GSA.GOV or call 800-479-7842 for more assistance.

  23. Can I commingle orders or combine orders for multiple customers into one shipping container and just assign one TCN?
    Can I commingle orders or combine orders for multiple customers into one shipping container and just assign one TCN?

    In some instances you may. When freight leaves a vendor facility with a multi-line requisition or in a multi-pack container these shipments must be for the same requisitioner and each requisition must be assigned its own TCN "XXX." Also, labels and a packing list/invoice for each TCN in the multi-pack container or pallet must be produced and affixed to the outside of a container. Multiple pallets should be assigned incrementally according to number of pallets or containers to this. For example, a shipment of 3 pallets or 3 containers must marked as as 1 of 3, 2 or 3, and 3 of 3.

    If a shipment does not comply with all of these requirements, the shipment will become frustrated. Please review The Most Common Factors which Contribute to Frustrated Freight (FF) - Guidance for Correct TCN Construction, Definitions of Commonly Used Terms, and Guidance to Prevent FF.

Additional Resources

Foundational Information - Introductory Level Explanations, Definitions, and Examples

  • Marking Compliance Overview: A presentation that provides easy-to-understand explanations of the terms, regulations, and key components that must be addressed when preparing compliant labels and packages for shipments.
  • Packaging, Packing, and Marking—Oh My!: A presentation that explains what is expected at each phase of the supply chain, definitions of commonly used terms, and how to prevent frustrated freight by creating compliant labels and adhering to the correct packaging and packing guidelines.
  • Shipping Products: A presentation that explains the importance of marking, the impact frustrated freight can have on various stakeholders, and the level of effort required by all parties to resolve frustrated shipments and keep products moving.

Standards- Links to key Federal Marking Standards

  • Fed-STD-123H: Federal Standard: Marking for Shipment (Civil Agencies)
  • MIL-STD-129R: Department of Defense Standard Practice: Military Marking for Shipment and Storage

Helpful Guides to Avoid Shipping Delays

Conversion Calculation Tools

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