Mil STD 129P Military Shipping Labels

What is MIL-STD-129P?


Sample RFID label for a pallet.

MIL-STD-129P is the new standard for the Military Shipping Label Requirements. Enacted on December 15, 2002, Revision P establishes significant new requirements for DoD contractors that ship packaged materials to the Government to provide both linear and two-dimensional (2-D) barcodes on Military Shipping Labels. Linear Code 3 of 9 or Code 39 barcodes will continue to be required on interior packages (unit and intermediate packages) for the National Stock Number (NSN) and, when applicable, the serial number; and on shipping containers for the NSN, Contractor and Government Entity (CAGE) Code, contract number and, when applicable, the serial number.

Guide to Mil-Std-129 Labeling

Mil-Std-129 labeling can be a rigorous exercise, but for most situations the requirements can be boiled down to a few basic sets of labels and rules on when to use them. One set of labels is required for unit and intermediate containers, and another for exterior containers. The illustration below shows a basic example of unit and intermediate container labeling. Items requiring shelf-life markings and serial numbers are just a little more complicated.

The Mil-Std-129 requirements for standard items can be summarized as follows:

Unit Containers – should be marked as follows, unless the exterior container serves the unit container. In this case, exterior container rules apply.

  • National Stock Number (NSN) Barcode
  • NSN, CAGE, part number, item description, quantity, unit of issue, contract number, lot number (if used), method of preservation code, date of preservation, should be listed in plain text (in-the-clear).
  • Shelf Life Markings – indicate the start of shelf life and the date an item needs to be tested or disposed of. Shelf life markings are necessary only for deteriorative items – as indicated by the preparation for delivery Special Markings contract requirement.
  • Serial Number Barcode(s) – the serial numbers of each item in the container must appear in barcode format and in-the-clear. Serial numbers are listed only when assigned by the manufacturer or the Government for identification or control, not when assigned by the manufacturer solely for indicating the quantity produced.

Intermediate Containers – are marked the same as unit containers, except:

  • Serial Numbers – when more than five serial-numbered items are in an intermediate container, the serial number rules below for exterior containers apply.

Exterior Containers – use the same basic label format as unit containers, but without the item description.  Besides the NSN, Contract Number and CAGE Code must also be barcoded. This can be done on one large label, or two smaller labels placed side-by-side, as shown below:

Exterior Containers may require additional labels:

  • Serial Number Barcode(s) – the serial numbers of each item in the container must appear in barcode format and in-the-clear. When more than five bar codes are required on an exterior container, two serial number lists shall be provided. The first list, is to be placed inside the container and shall contain a bar code for each serialized item. Barcoding of the second serial number list, which must be included with the packing list, is optional. The words “SERIAL NUMBER LIST INSIDE” shall be marked on the identification-marked side of the container.
  • Military Shipment Label (MSL) – a modernized version of the DD1387, the MSL includes the To, From and Mark-For address information, the transportation control number (TCN) and other data necessary to properly route shipments to defense users. It includes barcodes for the TCN, Mark For DODAAC and Piece Number. It also includes a 2D-barcode that encodes all of the data on the label, making it easier to automatically process.

When is the MSL required?   “Unless specifically exempted in the contract or solicitation, DoD and contractor- or vendor shipping activities will apply address markings using a bar coded MSL. This includes shipments moving within CONUS, between CONUS and OCONUS, or conversely between OCONUS and CONUS.” (MS-129-P-1).  Foreign Military Sales (FMS) require marking with the MSL.

  • Direct-Vendor Delivery (DVD) Label – has three barcodes only; the Requisition / Document / Transportation Control Number (TCN), the NSN and a composite barcode, made up of Quantity, Unit of Issue, Routing ID Code, Condition Code, Distribution Code and Unit Price.Unless otherwise specified in the contract or solicitation, contractor- or vendor-originated DVD shipments require identification and address marking with bar codes in accordance with this standard.

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