The UPC code was the original format for product barcodes. There are two main types of UPC codes: UPC-E and UPC-A. UPC-A is essentially identical to UPC-E; however, UPC-E does not include 0s. That means you will not actually see the 0’s within the barcode, only within the corresponding GTIN.
UPC barcodes are currently the primary barcodes used within the US and Canada. Although other countries can scan and read UPC codes, most countries outside of the US and Canada use EANs.
When supply and demand in Europe, Asia, and Australia increased, there was a need to distinguish each seller by location. GS1 then began allocating specific prefixes for different GS1 member organizations.
While certain prefixes identify the GS1 branch where the prefix was licensed, it does not necessarily specify where that product was made. For example, there is a misconception that all barcode prefixes on American-made products will start with a zero or one.
Every seller registers a GTIN with each product listing available on their marketplace. Sellers can either buy legitimized UPC codes directly from GS1 or purchase through a reseller.
There are various Buy UPC barcode and EAN resellers out there who will try to sell replicated UPC codes to satisfy UPC code requirements. Many sellers purchase their UPC codes from third-party websites due to their cheaper prices — but can cause more harm than good in the long run.
If you don’t purchase your UPC code from GS1 and purchase a cheap replicated UPC code that doesn’t match the information found in the GS1 database, you can remove your listing and potentially suspend your seller account.
A GTIN is a Global Trade Item Number that identifies individual products – not to be confused with an actual product barcode. GTINs are a combination of GS1 US-issued company prefix numbers and a unique product number, plus a check digit that helps to ensure the GTIN is created correctly.
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GTINs can be encoded into different types of barcodes:
UPCs (Unique Product Codes)
EANs (European Article Numbers)
It’s important to assign each product a unique GTIN, and you must ensure that every variation of an item is assigned a globally unique number.
Keep in mind, in most categories, sellers are required to use a separate UPC for multi-pack products, and they must also indicate the ” item package quantity ” when listing multi-packs.
A GTIN, along with a UPC code, can be used anywhere in the world. GS1 is the only official global provider of GS1 GTINs and EAN and UPC barcodes.
For small companies that only sell a few products, there is a single Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) option now. This means each UPC or barcode is only $30 with no renewal fee. However, for those businesses that see their product lines growing over the next few years, the Company Prefix option might be best.
The first six to nine digits of your barcode are your company prefix. The company prefix is a unique identifier of the product’s manufacturer. As a supplier, your company prefix will remain the same on each barcode for all of your different products. Each product that you offer will then be assigned a unique product code that follows your company prefix.