Create Barcodes and U.P.C.s with the GS1 US Get Started Guide

Looking to sell a product in stores or online? Start here

Most retailers expect their suppliers to uniquely identify their products—with barcodes (for products sold in stores) and with product identifiers (for products sold online). Or you may have been asked to identify your medical devices with U.S. FDA UDI.*

The first step in creating barcodes and the numbers that go into them is to obtain a GS1 Company Prefix. A GS1 Company Prefix is a unique identification number that GS1 US® issues just to your company—and it’s part of every barcode, Universal Product Code (U.P.C.), and identification number (GTIN®) you create. It’s the internationally accepted way to uniquely identify your brand in the global supply chain.

Want to learn more about barcodes and how they can help improve your business? Go to Barcoding Basics.

Do You Have a GS1 Company Prefix?


No problem! We'll take you to Step 1: Get a GS1 US-Issued Company Prefix.


Great! We'll show you how to use it starting with Step 2: Choose Product (GTIN) or Location (GLN) Identification.

I Don't Know

View a search directory where you can find out. Go to the GS1 Company Database.

Get Started Guide steps to U.P.C.s and barcodes:

1. Get a GS1 US-Issued Company Prefix

Your company ID for building barcodes, U.P.C.s, GTINs, and other product identifiers.

View Step 1 >

Image for Step 1 Get a GS1 US-Issued Company Prefix

2. Choose Product (GTIN) or Location (GLN) Identification

Identifying a product? Location? Learn how.

View Step 2 >

Image for Step 2 Choose Product (GTIN) or Location (GLN) Identification

3. Determine Barcode Type

Find barcode options based on your needs.

View Step 3 >

Image for Step 3 Determine Barcode Type

4. Place Barcodes on Products

Tips for creating and placing barcodes on your products.

View Step 4 >

Image for Step 4 Place Barcodes on Products

5. Test/Verify Printed Barcodes

Make sure they work the first time, every time.

View Step 5 >

Image for Step 5 Test/Verify Printed Barcodes

6. Share Information Electronically

Learn how to share your information with your trading partners.

View Step 6 >

Image for Step 6 Share Information Electronically

Want to learn more about the principles of globally unique product identification, GTIN management and package measurement rules?
Visit our GS1 Foundations Online Certificate Course page >

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.

*For information about the rule, see the U.S. FDA Unique Device Identification System 

Disclaimer: GS1 US is the local GS1 Member Organization that supports implementation of the GS1 System in the United States. GS1 US employees are not representatives or agents of the U.S. FDA, and the content herein has not been reviewed, approved, or authorized by the U.S. FDA.

GS1 is a U.S. FDA-Accredited Issuing Agency for UDI, and GS1 Standards are authorized for use in implementing the requirements of the U.S. FDA UDI Rule.