How to Get a TCN to Ship Government Property


United States defense transportation regulations standardize the tracking of government cargo. Every shipment unit throughout the transportation pipeline carries an identifying 17-character transportation control number. The TCN identifies a particular shipment according to a set four-part format. Each TCN contains the Department of Defense activity address code, Julian date, serial number and suffix for the requested shipment. Knowing how to create a TCN allows you to properly ship and track government property.

  • Enter the six-character DODAAC, which uniquely identifies any authorized recipient of government material. Request a new DODAAC through a Web management system if you do not know the appropriate code for your shipment.

  • Determine the Julian date for the request. Copy the last numeral of the year as the first character. Find the day of the year between 001 and 365 for the date of the request. Write the current day’s date after the last numeral of the year. For example, Jan. 1 expressed as a Julian date is 001, and Jan. 1, 2011, is 1001.

  • Select the type of shipment code according to the defense transportation regulation appendix. Follow the type of shipment code with the last three characters (except I or O) of the purchase order for the shipment.

  • Create the suffix. The first character of the suffix defaults to X unless the shipment unit must be shipped from multiple locations. Identify the order of multiple shipping points using the letters A through Z (except I, O or X) to identify the 1st through 23rd shipping points. Select the appropriate partial and split shipment codes according to the pattern outlined in the defense transportation regulation appendix.


  • Photo Credit military boxes image by Ivonne Wierink from
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