Frequently Asked Questions

GS1 Company Prefix, Barcodes, and Identification

Looking for your Prefix Certificate?

I'm thinking about getting barcodes from GS1 US, but first I need to know...

A GTIN® (pronounced Gee-Tin) is the acronym for Global Trade Item Number® It’s a number that uniquely identifies a product and can be found below a U.P.C. barcode symbol. GTINs are used as the global standard to identify products.

A company prefix that complies with GS1 Standards (a “GS1 Company Prefix”) is a unique number that is assigned to just your company by GS1 US. It’s the foundation of GS1 Standards and is used in identification numbers, including Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) that identify products, and Global Location Numbers (GLNs) that identify locations. GS1 Company Prefixes come in different capacities and prices depending on how many identification numbers you need to create.

Obtaining a GS1 Company Prefix provides proof that your company, and only your company, is authorized to use your particular prefix and all identification numbers created with it. To verify this, your customers can view the GS1 Company Database (GEPIR®), the database of all unique GS1 Company Prefixes and the companies to which they are registered.

Learn more and apply for a GS1 Company Prefix >

Yes. If you only need a few GTINs, we license individual GTINs for a one-time fee of $30 each, with no annual renewal fee. When you license a GS1 US GTIN, your company is uniquely and exclusively identified as the owner of that number, and you get access to other GS1 US member benefits.

Learn more and get GTINs from GS1 US >

The one-time cost for licensing a single GS1 US GTIN is $30, with no annual renewal fee. The initial cost of licensing a GS1 Company Prefix ranges from $250 to $10,500 which enables you to uniquely identify from 10 to 100,000 products, locations or assets. GS1 Company Prefix licenses must be renewed annually for a nominal fee.

Learn more about pricing > 

The cost of a GS1 Company Prefix is determined by the number of identification numbers it can create. To determine the capacity you need, carefully consider the number of products you are currently producing. Keep in mind that each variation of a product needs a unique GTIN that can then be placed in a U.P.C. barcodes. For example, if a style/model of a product is produced in four colors and four sizes, you would need to assign 16 unique numbers (GTINs) to that particular style. You should also consider the number of new product variations your company is planning to produce in the near future (about three years). That way, you will have enough numbering capacity and can avoid needing additional prefixes too frequently.

Learn more about company prefix capacity.

If you exhaust the numbering capacity of your GS1 Company Prefix, you can obtain additional identification numbers in two ways. If you need several additional identification numbers, you can license another GS1 Company Prefix. If you only need a few additional GTINs, you can purchase single GTINs for $30 each.

I already have barcodes from GS1 US, but now I need to know...

If you have licensed a GS1 Company Prefix, GS1 US GTIN, or Global Location Number, log in to myGS1 US, our online member center, click on the Identifier Certificates, and download a copy of your certificate(s)

The difference between a GS1 Company Prefix and a U.P.C. Company Prefix is that the GS1 Company Prefix has a zero added to the beginning of the number. Use the U.P.C. Company Prefix to assign GTINs and create U.P.C. barcodes for products that are sold at a store or online. Use the GS1 Company Prefix for all other GS1 identifiers.

Your GS1 Company Prefix can be found on your GS1 Company Prefix Certificate. You can also find your GS1 Company Prefix by visiting the GS1 Company Database (GEPIR). You can search the database by Company Name or specific identification number – GTIN (Global Trade Item Number), GLN (Global Location Number) or SSCC (Serial Shipping Container Code).

Yes. Your customers can verify your GTIN or GS1 Company Prefix by visiting the GS1 Company Database (GEPIR). They can search the database by Company Name, GTIN, GLN, or SSCC.

If you allow your Prefix License Agreement to expire, your prefix will be terminated. This means you will no longer be authorized to use U.P.C.s from your prefix on your products. Your access to GS1 US tools and resources will also be terminated, so you will not be able to use these for your barcodes. Your company will no longer appear in the GS1 Company Database, so customers won’t be able to verify your U.P.C.s, which may cause a delay in selling your products. Be sure to keep your GS1 Company Prefix license current by paying your annual renewal fee on time.

Maybe. Even though your product may not have launched, you may want to maintain your GS1 Company Prefix License because it allows you to sell new products to retailers and distributors in the future.

Barcodes, GTINs, GLN, and Identification

A GTIN® (pronounced Gee-Tin) is the acronym for Global Trade Item Number® It’s a number that uniquely identifies a product and can be found below a U.P.C. barcode symbol. GTINs are used as the global standard to identify products.

U.P.C. is the acronym for Universal Product Code. It is the most used barcode in the world and is seen on just about every product in physical stores and online. Your customers may ask you to place a U.P.C. barcode on your products or packages.

GTINs, U.P.C.s, and other types of barcodes are often confused as the same thing – but they are different. A GTIN is a number that identifies the product itself and the U.P.C. is the barcode that allows the GTIN to be scanned by a barcode reader, like the ones at the checkout counter of a physical store or the distribution center of an online retailer. GTINs by themselves are typically used in online retail, in databases, and in electronic transactions, such as EDI.

No, but when you become a GS1 US member, you receive an individual GTIN or a GS1 Company Prefix which allows you to create GTINs and GLNs. GTINs are the numbers embedded into UPC barcodes. You can assign GTINs to products and create and print barcodes in our Data Hub tool.

In no instance should you alter barcodes or add/delete any of the numbers below a barcode. These numbers make up your GTINs (Global Trade Item Numbers). To ensure proper identification, you will want to include all digits of your GTIN with the proper barcode size when communicating information about your product. If you randomly add or remove any of the digits, you may inadvertently use another company’s number and you will not be identified as the license holder of that prefix.

Be careful not to cut off or shrink the barcodes as you run the risk that scanners will not correctly read them at checkout. For industry standards related to the size, shape, and colors of barcodes, visit our Barcode Placement Guide.

No. In order to properly track and price products, a new GTIN should be assigned for each product and variation of the product such as size, color, style, or package count.

Yes, GS1 US Data Hub® | Company offers an option called List Match that will match company information against a list of U.P.C.s/GTINs or GLNs that you provide. The data that’s returned from the List Match is the same data we return from a standard GS1 US Data Hub | Company “search,” including Entity GLN, U.P.C. Company Prefix, GS1 Company Prefix, company name, address, the date of the last modification to each record, and the Global Service Relation Number (GSRN).

Once you’ve obtained a GS1 Company Prefix, create an item reference number for your product and then calculate the check digit. For help with this process, visit our Identifying Products or Locations page.

The short answer is “maybe.” More and more online companies are requiring GTINs and U.P.C.s for unique product identification, so it is always a good idea to check the vendor requirements documents that are generally published by retailers.

The GTIN in a U.P.C. barcode is not automatically linked to barcode scanning applications on the internet. They are simply used to identify your products at various points in the supply chain. There are numerous internet apps you can explore for smartphone purposes, but GS1 US does not provide any.

GLN is an acronym for “Global Location Number”. A GLN is a GS1 identification number used primarily in electronic messages to identify legal and physical locations. You can create GLNs from a GS1 Company Prefix, or purchase individual GLNs for $30 each.

Your Entity GLN is a unique number used to identify your company. Your GS1 Company Prefix Certificate is the best place to find your Entity GLN. You will see it listed as a “Legal Entity GLN.” It will show the location of the company you enter in your GS1 Company prefix application. Once you locate your “Legal Entity GLN,” you can communicate it to your customers.

No. You can use your existing GS1 Company Prefix to assign GLNs, just as you do for your GTINs/U.P.C.s. You can also can purchase individual GLNs separately. For more information on GLNs, go to the GLN Section of our website.

Have additional questions? Contact us.