1. Get a GS1 US-Issued Company Prefix

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 issued just to your company—and it’s part of every barcode and identification number you create. It’s a way to uniquely identify your brand in the global supply chain.

Image for Aiden Video

New to GS1 US? View this video explaining GS1 Company Prefixes (Video: 4 min.)

When you obtain a GS1 Company Prefix, you get access to GS1 US Data Hub® | Product. It’s our online tool that helps you take the guesswork out of creating and managing barcodes and product identifiers.

We also provide referrals to GS1 US-certified barcode professionals 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, an online member center to access your resources, and more.

1.1 Estimate your barcode and product identification needs

Product Variations Infographic

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 GTIN/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, 3⁄4 sleeve), three colors (blue, pink, 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 save time and money by planning ahead.

Access the Barcode Estimator below to calculate your product identification needs.

This tool will help you estimate how many barcodes you will need to create for current and future products.*

Current Products

In most cases, you'll need one barcode for every product variation. Use the Worksheet and Examples tabs for additional help.

Future Products

Total Barcodes Needed:
Prefix Capacity:
Initial Fee:
Annual Fee:

*This Estimator tool helps you estimate your barcode capacity, initial fee, and annual renewal fee to license a GS1 Company Prefix. If you enter different information into the application your fees could change based on your input. For more information, see our Terms of Use.

Use this worksheet to help you determine the number of barcodes you will need. As you click the “Add To List” button, your product will appear in the list below.

Total Barcodes Needed:
Prefix Capacity:

Product List

    Take a look at the samples below to learn how to estimate the number of barcodes you need for a particular item.

    Barcode variation Example Images

    1.2 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 the U.P.C. Company Prefix and the check digit are the item reference numbers that you will assign to your products.

    GTIN-12 digit setup
    The U.P.C. Company Prefix length determines how many U.P.C. barcodes you can create.

    GTIN 12 Infographic
    If your U.P.C. Company Prefix is… You can create this many U.P.C. barcodes...
    6 digits 100,000
    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 provides the company prefix to you for one year. After that, you’ll pay the annual renewal fee to continue using the GS1 US-issued company prefix for your barcodes and product identification.

    Prefix Pricing Schedule*

    Number of items needing a barcode/GTIN** Initial fee Annual renewal fee
    1 – 10 $250 $50
    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 $2,100 $2,100

    *GS1 US reserves the right to change pricing on GS1 Company Prefix(es). The use of GS1 US-issued company prefixes is pursuant to the terms and conditions of a License Agreement, which is subject to change at GS1 US’ sole discretion.

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

    1.3 Fill out our online application

    Provide your contact information, choose your prefix capacity, and pay online. It's that easy. You’ll get a welcome email from GS1 US in 1-2 business days. It includes all the important information you need to get started, including your prefix certificate and access to myGS1 US—your online member center. You can start creating barcodes right away with GS1 US Data Hub®| Product or you can work with a GS1 US Solution Provider to create barcodes for you.



    Once you have your prefix using these steps, go to:

    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.