Step 1: Apply for UPC (GS1) Company Prefix
The first, and most important, step in obtaining a UPC barcode for your product is to apply for membership and license a UPC (GS1) Company prefix from GS1. Whereas Bar Code Graphics is the authority for barcoding and UPC implementation, GS1 is the global standards organization for product identification. Your company prefix identifies you as the manufacturer throughout the entire product supply-chain. The length of the prefix (and price) is dependent on the number of unique items that require UPC identification.
The number of digits in a Company Prefix can vary between 6 – 10 characters, depending on the number of products a manufacturer needs to identify. A small company, who only needs to identify a single product, would receive a 10-digit number. The membership fee for GS1 is primarily based on the number of products which require identification. To learn how to determine how many UPCs you need, please visit, www.barcode-us.info/how-many-upcs/.
NEW (Nov 2020)- To accommodate small companies that only need a few (1-9) UPCs for product identification, individual GS1 UPC GTIN identifiers are now available. These single UPCs do not have separate Company Prefix, BUT the brand and product description will be designated in the GS1 Global Registry. To learn more, please visit https://www.barcode.graphics/gs1-us-gtin-upc-barcodes/.
Caution: There are third-party companies on the internet who prey on unsuspecting new companies and offer single UPC bar codes for discount $5 rates. Many of these companies are fraudulent and use shared UPC Company Prefixes. Most retailers will not accept their numbers and Amazon now has a policy warning suppliers to license their own UPC Prefix.
GS1 Company Prefix Used in Case Markings
In addition to product identification, Company Prefixes are also used for logistic markings. Some retailers, wholesalers, and distributors require suppliers to use barcoded case markings which also follow the GS1 standards. The GTIN-14 is an identification string that includes a company’s unique GS1 Company Prefix.
The UPC/GTIN management and barcode creation is very challenging for new companies. The comprehensive GS1 Barcode Service facilitates the entire process to easily manages GTIN/UPC information and create barcodes. At the end of this simple tutorial, you will be provided information on the GS1 Barcode Service.