As part of the A2B Tracking’s Webinar Series, Peter Collins and I (Dan Faria) recently discussed the Five Fundamental Elements that are required in order to create a compliant MIL‑STD‑130 IUID label. For the purpose of this post I would like to talk about MIL-STD-129 labels, as known as Military Shipping labels, that are used specifically for container or palletized shipments.

If your contract has a requirement for IUID labels there is a very good chance that you may also have a requirement for MIL-STD-129 labels which is the standard for marking military shipments and containers in storage. Military shipping labels (MSLs) are used to identify who the shipper is, what supplies or assets are being delivered and the final destination of the shipment. For more additional imformation, here is a quick video regarding MIL-STD-129 labels.

MSLs have been the shipping standard put in place by the DoD in order to improve the accuracy and productivity of the DoD’s receiving department. This will lead to more timely payments to you as the vendor. As I mentioned with MIL-STD-130 labels the data that you provide in order to create the MSL is key! You want to be sure your data is accurate so that it correctly reflects all required data elements of the shipment.

What data is needed?

Here is a list of the key data components of a Military Shipping Label. All of these data elements need to be presented properly on your label to conform to MIL STD 129.

  • Transportation Control Number or TCN
  • Ship to address
  • Date shipped
  • Method of shipment
  • Transportation priority
  • Weight
  • Cubic feet
  • Total pieces
  • National stock number or NSN
  • Shipped from location
  • Required delivery date


The TCN, or Transportation Control Number, is a 17-character data element assigned to control and manage each shipment throughout the transportation pipeline for payment processing. The TCN is embedded in the 1D barcode at the top of the label. A PDF417 barcode which went into effect with the latest revision of MIL-STD-129 to eliminate multiple 1D barcodes includes the ship to address, National Stock Number (NSN) and other human readable information noted previously.

Military Shipping Label with RFID

Military Shipping Labels with RFID

MIL-STD-129R is the current standard for MSLs issued February 2014. The standard size for a Military Shipping Label is 4 inches by 6 inches which also may include an RFID inlay which is required when shipping to certain Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) warehouses. The RFID inlay will contain the pallet or container number which is verified inline as the label is being printed. This will help to create the audit trail that shows that the tag is readable. The 1D and PDF417 barcodes on the MSL will need to be verified as well, in order to ensure that they are readable by a commercial off the shelf 2D barcode scanner or imager. If you want to be paid on time, DLA will need to be able to read the MSL completely in order to process the receipt.  This is what makes the verification process such an essential part of creating an MSL.

Where do I put the MSL?

When you are ready to ship your pallet or container the MSL should be placed where there is minimal risk of damage to the label. The label should be applied right of center on a vertical face allowing for 2 inches from all edges of the container. If the MSL is RFID enabled, it should not be applied where sealing tape or bands are placed over the label which may cause interference with the scanning of the barcode or reading the RFID inlay.

If you would like to learn more about staying compliant to the MIL STD 129 or MIL STD 130 requirements watch the on-demand recording of our recent webinar here.

Military Shipping Labels Explained and MIL STD 129