Military Shipment Label (MSL)

The MSL is placed on:

  • Each loose (non-palletized) case or shipping container (crate)
  • Each palletized unit load (but not on each case on the pallet)
  • Each full railcar or full truckload

Cases that are palletized simply for the convenience of handling and shipping are not considered to be a palletized unit load. Each such container should be marked with an MSL.

When reading Mil-Std-129R, it should be noted that the rules for general cargo (contractor/vendor) shipments differ from those for (defense-originated) unit moves, which can be ignored.

Required MSL Markings

MSL markings consist of both human readable and bar coded information on a recommended 4×6 inch label. The exact format of the MSL is not mandated by the standard, as long as the required data is included along with compliant linear and 2D bar codes. Mil-Std-129R includes “figures 2A and 2B (as) examples of acceptable MSL formats that may be used as guidelines in producing a label.” [¶5.2.2.3]

Required human readable information (contractor shipments) [¶5.2.2.5]:

  • Transportation Control Number (TCN)
  • Transportation Account Code (TAC)/Postage (rarely applies to contractor shipments).
  • From – CAGE and address of the shipping activity
  • Type Service – The type of transportation service to the “ship to” address (such as Frt LTL, Air Expss, Expss Mail, etc.)
  • Ship To Address and DODAAC
  • POE – the three-digit air/water point of embarkment (POE) code (rarely applicable)
  • Transportation Priority (1, 2, 3, or 4)
  • POD – air/water Point of Debarkment three-digit code (rarely applicable)
  • Project code, if applicable
  • Ultimate Consignee DODAAC (bar coded)
  • Mark-For Consignee address or instructions
  • Weight – Gross weight (lbs)
  • RDD – Required delivery date code, day of year (Julian date), if specified by the requisitioner
  • Cube – Cubic Feet, rounded to the next whole digit
  • Date shipped (in the clear, e.g. DD-MMM-YYYY or MM/DD/YYYY)
  • FMS (foreign military sales) Case Number, as appropriate
  • Piece Number – the piece number of the cargo within the TCN for this shipment unit
  • Total Pieces – Total number of pieces within the TCN for this shipment unit

Required Bar Coded Information:

  • Code 39 linear barcodes:
    • Transportation Control Number (TCN),
    • Piece number
    • Ultimate Consignee/Mark-For DODAAC. When the Mark-For is other than an address (with DODAAC) the Ship-To DODAAC should appear in text and bar code.
  • A single two-dimensional (2D) bar code in a PDF417 symbol is required. Much of the data that appears on the MSL is encoded in the PDF417. The data structure of the symbol is defined by Mil-Std-129R Table A-I and A-II.
  • TCMD (Transportation Control and Movement Document) is rarely required for contractor/vendor shipments. “For contractor or vendor shipments, the TCMD information in the 2D (PDF417) bar code, when required, shall be coordinated between the contractor or vendor and the contracting office or administrative contracting office, per the FAR 47.305-10 and the DFARS 247.305-10 and 247.371.”  [¶5.2.2a]

RFID-Enabled MSLs

RFID Address Label (MSL)
RFID-tagged MSL

A passive RFID tag may be integrated with the military or commercial shipping label (RFID-enabled address label) or it may be placed in a separate location on the shipment. (The) standard identifies recommended locations for the RFID-enabled address label and passive RFID tag placement.

[Mil-Std-129R ¶5.9.2]

There are advantages to using the exterior container label for RFID tagging over the MSL. Read more about RFID data collection to learn more about use of RFID-enabled exterior container and use of generic RFID labels.

Use of DD1387

The use of DD Form 1387, superseded by the MSL, is used under these circumstances: “Attach a DD Form 1387 (Military Shipment Label) in lieu of a bar coded MSL for DoD contingency operations where manual entry is the only means available to document DTS shipments.” [Mil-Std-129R §5.2.1]