Get Started with U.P.C. Barcodes

You have your product, your business plan, and maybe even some prospective buyers. Now it’s time to take the next step. To sell your product in a store or online, you could be looking for a barcode, a GS1 Company Prefix, a Global Trade Item Number® (GTIN®), a U.P.C., or a GTIN-14.

Whatever your needs, the solution begins with an authorized GS1 Company Prefix. A GS1 Company Prefix is a unique identification number licensed just to your company – and it is part of every barcode and identification number you create. It is the only way to uniquely identify your brand in the global supply chain.

You don’t buy barcodes from GS1 US – you create your own. When you license a GS1 Company Prefix, you get access to Data Driver® —our online tool that helps small and mid-sized companies take the guesswork out of creating and managing barcodes and product identifiers. We also provide referrals to GS1 US Solution Providers who can create and print barcodes for you. In addition you’ll get access to our expert Member Support team, online education and training materials, how-to webinars with GS1 Standards experts, myGS1 US-an online member center to access your resources, and more.

3 Simple Steps to Get Started

Step 1: Estimate Your Barcode and Product Identification Needs
Products come in many sizes, colors and package configurations (e.g. individual boxes or cases). Each of these variations may require a unique identification number. The first step is to identify all the variations you have for each of your unique products.  If you and your customer need to distinguish one variation from another, the general rule of thumb is that each product variation will require its own U.P.C. barcode. For example, if you make three t-shirts, but each shirt comes in three sizes (small, medium, large), three styles (short sleeve, long sleeve, ¾ sleeve), three colors (blue, red and purple); and three packages (single, 2-pack, 3-pack); you need to identify 81 product variations (3 sizes x 3 styles x 3 colors x 3 packages = 81).

It’s also important to plan for additional product variations for your business growth over the next year or so when estimating your barcode needs since you can't "add capacity" to your prefix.  You can always license additional prefixes as your company grows, but you may be able to save time and money by planning for more product variations now.

For more examples, use our Barcode Estimator to help figure out your product identification needs. 

Step 2: Decide Which GS1 Company Prefix is Right for You
The number in a U.P.C. Barcode (called a GTIN) is typically 12 digits long. It starts with your U.P.C. Company Prefix and ends with a check digit. The numbers between these two are item reference numbers that you will assign to your products.


U.P.C. Company Prefix length determines how many U.P.C Barcodes you can create.

If your U.P.C
Company Prefix is...
You can create this
many U.P.C. Barcodes...
7-digits 10,000
8-digits 1,000
9-digits 100
10-digits 10

A GS1 Company Prefix comes in five different “capacities” that allow you to create as few as 10 unique items and as many as 100,000 unique items. Our pricing schedule is based on the number of unique items that you need to identify. Your Initial Fee licenses the Company Prefix to you for one year. After that, you’ll pay the Annual Renewal Fee to continue using the licensed Company Prefix for your barcodes and product identification.

Number of Items Needing a Barcode/GTIN* Initial Fee Annual Renewal Fee
1 - 10
1 - 100 $750 $150
1 - 1,000 $2,500 $500
1 - 10,000 $6,500 $1,300
1 - 100,000 $10,500 $2,100
NDC/NHRIC Company Prefix  $10,500 $2,100

*If you need to identify locations, use the same table for pricing.

Step 3: Fill Out Our Online Application
Provide your contact information, choose your prefix capacity, and pay online. It’s that easy. Within one business day you’ll get a Welcome Email from GS1 US. It includes all the important information you need to get started, including your prefix certificate and access to myGS1 USyour online member center. You can start creating barcodes right away with Data Driver or you can work with a GS1 US Certified Barcode Professional to create barcodes for you.


Before getting started, we recommend that you watch our 4-minute video to learn how the GS1 Company Prefix can help your company.


Learn more about creating barcodes with Data Driver
Looking for EPC/RFID, EDI, and more? You’ll still want to start with a GS1 Company Prefix.

Already have one? Click here >

We’re working with various communities through Industry Initiatives and Readiness Programs.

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* In this publication, the letters “U.P.C.” are used solely as an abbreviation for the “Universal Product Code” which is a product identification system. They do not refer to the UPC, which is a federally registered certification mark of the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) to certify compliance with a Uniform Plumbing Code as authorized by IAPMO.