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Global Business Identifier (GBI) – Trade Transformation Initiative

The Border Interagency Executive Council (BIEC) has developed a new Evaluative Proof of Concept (EPoC), which will test three different entity identifiers and determine which combination is most optimal for uniquely identifying: main legal entities, their ownership roles, and specific locations across global supply chain functions. The GBI EPoC aims to operate within the Automated Commercial Environment with plans on launching in spring 2022!


At the Virtual Trade Week, the attendees saw a presentation, where the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said that in the financial year 2020 there were more than 365,000 active importers of record, as well as 16,500 custom brokers. Whilst these filers are obligated to submit a manufacturer/shipper identification number for all imports, CBP stated that MID lacks the data quality, richness, and uniqueness required for accurate supply chain insights. This problem concerns the sheer number of shipments CBP handles, which in the financial year 2020 included 28.5 million cargo containers, 32.8 million import entries, and 148 de minimis value shipments by air, plus 94 million by lorry.

The GBI proposed solutions

Legal Entity Identifier (LEI)

LEI is a 20-digit, alphanumeric identifier with underlying reference data elements unique to a legal entity.
As of 2022-04-13, there have been 2.112,123 LEI-s issued worldwide and the numbers are growing rapidly.

Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS)

DUNS is a 9-digit numeric and non-indicative identifier that identifies unique business establishments with a library of over 200 reference data elements.
Over 300 million DUNS have been worldwide.

Global Location Number (GLN)

GLN is a 13-digit numeric identifier with varying sets of underlying reference data elements customizable to location, function, and operations.
Over 2 million companies utilize GS1 company standards, and 100 million products carry GS1 barcodes.

GBI evaluative proof of concept

CBP has stated that the interagency working group is already creating an evaluation proof of concept that will test the proposed solutions and identify the best combination of these three entity identifiers that uniquely identify the ownership, specific business, and global locations, and supply chain roles as well as functions. The voluntary participants in the test will have to submit all three identifiers for the manufacturer/producer, seller, and shipper (no matter if they are or aren’t the same entity), via the Automated Broker Interface. The submission of identifiers for the distributor, exporter, and packager will remain optional. But until the full evaluation of the test is conducted, MID will still be required and accepted in parallel.

The test will include 10 countries: mainland China, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, France, Mexico, Vietnam, Italy, and Singapore.

The test will include 6 product categories: alcohol, medical devices, personal items, seafood, toys, and U.S goods returned.

Therefore trade members who conduct business in one of the mentioned countries and import a product in one of these categories are able to participate.