ACH File Formats: Technical Specification FAQ's


What format is the ACH file in?
Like many financial formats, the file is in an 'envelope' structure consisting of:
File Header/Trailer
Batch Header/Trailer
Detailed transaction records

File Header/Trailer
The File Header provides information about the company that prepared (originated) the file, when it was prepared, and the bank it is being transmitted to for processing.

The File Trailer provides record, block, amount and hash totals of the records contained in the file to verify the file's integrity.

There is only one set of File Headers/Trailers in the file.


Batch Header/Trailer
The Batch Header provides information about the detail records which are about to follow. This includes:
1. Standard Entry Class (PPD, CCD, CTX, etc...)
2. Effective date
3. Description or 'purpose' (generic 'Payroll', 'Dues', etc...)

As long as the records contain the same three pieces of information, they can be batched together.

The Batch Trailer provides record, amount and hash totals of the records contained in the batch.

There is no limit as to the number of batches.


Detailed Transaction records
Contains the 'basic' transaction information including:
· ABA/Routing Number (other party - not yours)
· Account Number (other party - not yours)
· Amount
· Individual ID Name - The account name that you maintain internally for the other party you perform business with.
· Individual ID Number - The account number that you maintain internally for the other party you perform business with.
· Transaction Code - Identifies the transaction as a Debit or Credit, and the account type, such as checking, savings, etc...

Addendum Records
Additional payment related information can be entered in one or more addendum records. CCD and PPD are restricted to 1 addendum record, while CTX can have up to 9,999 records.

Notes:
· Each addendum record, PPD, CCD and CTX can hold up to 80 characters of X12 information.
· The format of the ACH file is a fixed width (94 characters) ASCII file.


What's included in the addendum record?
Detailed information regarding the payment.

CTX - Corporate Trade Exchange records can contain payment related information in ANSI ASC X12 format from a secondary source (EDI). This includes:
· Invoice/reference number
· Payment Action Code
· Amount
· Total Invoice
· Discount Amount Taken

Common segments include REF, RMR, NTE and DTM. An example of a remittance segment (RMR):
RMR*IV*10533**4495.00\

RMR - Segment type
IV - Reference Number Qualifier
10533 - Invoice/reference number
4495.00 - Amount
Notes:
· Asterisks (*) represent field separators
· Double asterisk (**) represent an unused optional field (placeholder)
· Back slash (\) represents the terminator. Additional asterisks could have been used instead to indicate the omission of optional fields


PPD - Prearranged Payment and Deposit Entry
Payments can also be made using the Tax Payment (TXP) Banking Convention in the addendum record of a CCD+ formatted record.

A common use is the payment of payroll taxes to the Federal EFTPS system.
A sample addendum entry might look like:
TXP*987654321*94105*050301*1*1200*2*100*3*300\

TXP - Tax Payment Banking Convention
987654321 - Tax Payer's ID Number
94105 - Tax Payment Type (Quarterly Payroll)
050301 - Tax Period End Date March 1, 2005
1 - Tax Type 1 = Social Security
1200 - Amount
2 - Tax Type 2 = Medicare
100 - Amount
3 - Tax Type 3= Withholding
300 - Amount
Asterisks (*) represent field separators
\ - Terminator


What is the difference between the formats such as PPD, CCD, CTX and others?
These abbreviations relate to an 'application' type, and help determine the detail record format. ACH applications are classified as being either consumer or corporate payments, depending on the relationship between the parties.

Two common applications are:
PPD - Prearranged Payment and Deposit Entry (Consumer)
This is used for credit transactions such as direct deposit of payroll, pension, dividends, as well as debit transactions such as payment of utility bills, mortgages, loans and other recurring payments.

CCD -Cash Concentration or Disbursement (Corporate)
Can be used to consolidate and sweep cash funds within an entity's controlled accounts, or make/collect payments to/from other corporate entities.

The format and information requirements for PPD and CCD are identical. In addition they each can support one addendum record.

CTX - Corporate Trade Exchange (Corporate)
Supports the transfer of funds (debit or credit) with another entity in which you have an existing trading relationship. This format supports ANSI ASC X12 payment related information, which can be placed in multiple (up to 9,999) addendum records.

Notes:
· The CTX format is different than the PPD and CCD.
· You can combine PPD, CCD and CTX batches within the same transmission file.

What is the significance of the plus sign in the format, ie CCD vs. CCD+, PPD vs. PPD+?
The plus sign merely indicates that there is an addendum record.


I want to pay my vendors with an ACH transaction. What information will they see on their bank statement?
Regardless as to whether you are collecting or sending funds, the other party will see in the description field:
· Your company name
· Your description from the batch header (generic 'purpose' - payroll, ePay, etc...)
· The effective date from the batch header. Extremely useful when researching recurring transactions which contain the same amount.
· Individual ID Name from the detailed transaction
· Individual ID Number from the detailed transaction

Depending on your bank, and their system capabilities (and whether on-line or paper statement), the other party may see addendum information. The other party may need to be enrolled in additional treasury management services to fully capture all addenda information.

Of course the statement will also include other fields, such the amount and actual posting date to the account.


I'm collecting funds from my customers - how do I know that the money went into my account? What if the transaction cannot be completed?
Your bank tracks each transaction that you have submitted and will notify you of any transactions which was unable to be completed.

For example, if an account has been closed, or if you are debiting funds and the account balance is insufficient, you will be notified by your bank. This report can be printed/faxed or can be sent electronically in an ACH Return file. Regardless of the format, the returned items will contain a standard two-digit return code.

In addition, your bank may offer optional services which will allow you to track all transactions, rather than a 'negative-confirmation' scenario.


What information do I need to send transactions through the ACH network?
At a bare minimum, you will need the:
· ABA/Routing Number (other party - not yours)
· Account Number (other party - not yours)
· Amount
The rest of the information can be provided using default data provided during setup.



Treasury Software is member of NACHA and our automated ACH Universal software provides all of the formats and services described above.

Treasury Software is a leading provider of client-side file creation and transmission software for ACH, Positive Pay, as well as bank reconciliation and custom cash management solutions. Designated a Verified for Windows XP software application by Microsoft, Treasury Software is a Microsoft Certified Partner. Winner of the Gold Cup Award from CPA Software News, Treasury Software products are easy to use, secure and cost effective.

For more information: www.TreasurySoftware.com
or call 866-226-5732.

 

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