GS1 is the global standards body for item identification. Each country has its own local office that administers the licensing of Company Prefixes and GTINs. In the US, the local GS1 office is called GS1 US. Even though GS1 US is technically a monopoly, the GS1 system does provide trading partners the assurance of globally unique item identifiers. It is for this reason that retailers and marketplaces, such as Amazon, require suppliers to obtain GS1 UPC barcodes.
GS1 US only licenses the identifiers (GTINs to build the numeric Universal Product Code and DOES NOT provide barcodes. Unfortunately, many new companies incorrectly mistake a barcode with a UPC, so the GS1 sites use ‘Apply for Barcode” and this commonly causes confusion.
The DataHub is a tool included with your GS1 membership and uses your GS1 Company Prefix (the number that uniquely identifies your company) to create GTINs to uniquely identify your products. It is important to note that the DataHub does not actually publish or promote products to trading partners, but is a repository for storing GTIN assignments and product data. Also, basic access to the DataHub is limited and does not allow members to download GTINs and Case Barcodes (GTIN-14) without an upgraded membership ($4500). GS1 US offers training webinars for the DataHub for $79. Companies who use the GS1 Barcode Service are not required to purchase the webinar since UPC management and Data Hub uploads are included. Please call us at 800-662-0701 x250 or visit GS1 Barcode Service.
GTINs have different statuses and data can easily be amended in “Draft” states. Once a GTIN is “In Use” there are certain attributes that can be changed. GS1 consultants can assist with these type of instances.
This is commonly done to correct typographical errors and strategy changes. The Brand Name can be changed for a “In Use” product. Based on the impact of the change for your trading partners, you may want to consider issuing a new GTIN. Please note that the trade item will use up an available GTIN.
If a product has an “In Use” status on the GS1 DataHub, a new GTIN is required to be assigned for any change in net content.
Aside from assigning company prefixes, the GS1 creates the global standards for item and logistical barcoding. The GS1 General Specification covers all the rules for allocating numbers. As of January 2019, GS1 guidelines do not allow for UPC (GTIN) reuse. Click Here To Learn More.
The first digit of a GTIN-14 is called an “indicator digit” and is only found in case identification. If another case that contains the same trade item is created, the new GTIN-14 will start with an indicator digit of “2” and so on. GTIN-14s can have indicator digits up to the “8”.
UPC (GTIN) identification is used by a variety of industries and in some cases there may be minor alterations and requirements associated with barcode marking. For example, certain states have specific requirements for expanded product data for CBD products.