IAM Standards Development

IAM supports the development of common standards for our members and the industry. Specifically, IAM has developed a standard that codifies household goods shipment information and facilitates the exchange of that data between industry stakeholders such as IAM members. IAM is leading the effort to have it become recognized as a Global Standard with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).


The Association first became active in standardization about a decade ago when it was clear that the United States would tighten security in the aftermath of the attacks on September 11, 2001. In addition to the new security concerns, IAM recognized that effective standardization could improve efficiency for our members while reducing redundancies leading to cost savings and greater profits.

The first steps in this process were to understand what this new security environment would mean for our members and how standards would promote them, while helping comply with any potential regulation or restriction. It was clear from our analysis that our industry was going to face significant challenges because ship-ments of household goods and personal effects are subject to greater scrutiny by customs organizations because of the nature of the commodity.

IAM Standards & Technology Partnership

With this in mind, IAM formed the IAM Standards and Technology Partnership to encourage industry stakeholders to explore the development of standards that simplify shipment data through codification and facilitate the exchange of data. The Partnership was successful in developing the Numeric Codification of Contents for Electronic Inventories and Manifests of Household Goods and Personal Effects Shipments, which defined the data exchange requirements and provided for the numerical codification of items and exceptions that constitute a shipment.

Pursuit of Global Standard

Since that time, IAM has been pursuing the accreditation of this specific standard as a Global Standard with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Through this process, we have identified the need to split the standard into two parts so as to not confuse future users of the standard:

  • Codification of shipment information and contents
  • Electronic data interchange

What a Global Standard Means to IAM Members

IAM will continue to work with experts within the ISO Working Group (industry experts appointed by their respective National Standards Developing Organization) to standardize the codes with the purpose of providing a common language by which all industry stakeholders can communicate. A standardized set of codes means that your operations employees can record an inventory in their own language, as the underlying numeric code will enable instantaneous translation to another language if necessary. In addition, codifying the data elements in a household goods shipment puts the industry in a proactive position and ahead of the curve in the event that regulatory and security requirements mandate the transmittal of detailed electronic inventory prior to customs clearance.

Electronic Data Interchange

The second component of the standard, the electronic data interchange, will be introduced as an ISO Technical Specification, which is an intermediate step before committing to a full-blown ISO standard. This will provide us with the ability to make the electronic data interchange available without linking it to the codification component. IAM believes this is worthwhile for our members to utilize but there is concern that members may not be able to invest in electronic systems at this time, so we have separated this from the codes component.


IAM is anticipating having the codification standard accredited as a Global Standard by the fall of 2014. We will also look forward to distributing the electronic data interchange as an ISO Technical Specification within that same timeframe.

Taken together, these efforts provide the industry with the capacity to meet potential requirements for electronic submittal of shipment data. Perhaps the most significant issue relating to standards, their values and imminent requirements for them, is that history has shown that unless we take the lead, others—particularly government accounts and oversight agencies—will make the decisions for us.

If you have an idea for industry standardization or have questions about the ex¬isting standards that have been developed, please contact IAM Programs Manager Brian Limperopulos.