Serial Shipping Container Codes (SSCC) from GS1 US

When you license your GS1 Company Prefix, you have the opportunity to create many different kinds of identification numbers that support your supply chain efficiency and business growth.  In addition to using the Company Prefix as your basic building blocks for UPC barcodes, you can also create nearly limitless Serial Shipping Container Codes (SSCCs) to enable precise tracking throughout the supply chain.  

What is an SSCC code?

You might have heard some members of the supply chain community refer to an SSCC-18 or an SSCC barcode, but it is actually a number used in shipping and logistics. Similar to the relationship between a GTIN and a UPC, the SSCC is a number typically encoded into a GS1-128 barcode and included on a GS1 Logistics Label, sometimes called an SSCC label. 

An SSCC number is an 18-digit identifier assigned to a logistics unit, which includes any combination of trade items, such as cases, and pallets packaged together for transportation purposes. It acts as a license plate to identify and track shipments through the supply chain. 

GS1 Logistics Label Highlighting SSCC
Cargo shipment box pallet, Manufacturing and warehousing. Heavy goods pallet with hand pallet truck at the warehouse storage.

How does an SSCC code work?

An SSCC is made up of the following components: 

  • Application Identifier (AI):  Two digits that identify the type of data encoded into the SSCC barcode or GS1-128 SSCC.

  • Extension Digit: A number between 0-9 that differentiates multiple SSCCs assigned by the same manufacturer. 

  • GS1 Company Prefix: A 7-9-digit number that appears on your GS1 Prefix Certificate. In the SSCC, these digits identify the entity responsible for assigning the SSCC. 

  • Serial Reference: A unique number assigned to each shipping container.

  • Check Digit: A digit that mathematically validates the accuracy of the SSCC.

SSCC code Examples:

SSCC Breakdown with a 7 Digit GS1 Company Prefix

Example of an SSCC with a 7-digit Company Prefix

With a 7-digit GS1 Company Prefix, can assign up to 10 billion SSCCs.

SSCC Breakdown with a 9 Digit GS1 Company Prefix

Example of an SSCC with a 9-digit Company Prefix

With a 9-digit GS1 Company Prefix, can assign up to 100 million SSCCs.

SSCCs are scanned with a barcode scanner when included in a GS1-128 barcode (and other 2D barcodes such as the GS1 DataMatrix or GS1 QR Code). When the number is shared electronically, companies can understand the status of logistic units in transit and know when the unit will arrive. 

They support various industries and purposes:

  • Manufacturers use SSCCs to track logistics units from factories to distributors for greater production and shipping efficiency.

  • Retailers monitor shipments using SSCC labels to make sure they receive the right goods at the right time and in proper quantities. 

  • Shippers and logistics providers assign SSCCs to oversee shipments on behalf of their customers, to ensure timely deliveries. 

  • Government agencies use SSCCs to monitor compliance with regulatory standards in industries like food and pharma. 

  • Transportation companies rely on SSCCs to track and safeguard goods loaded onto their vehicles, effectively reducing loss or damage. 

GS1 Company Prefix

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Why do I need an SSCC?

Many major retailers (Amazon, Walmart, Target, Kroger, etc.) and logistics partners require the use of the SSCCs for pallets, packages, and smaller parcel shipments. It is a valuable tool for tracking the container's journey throughout the supply chain and is especially critical for traceability and food recalls. SSCCs and GTINs are part of a global system of standard identification numbers that are universally compatible with retailers’ and logistics companies’ EDI and Advance Ship Notice (ASN) systems. These systems underpin the vast network of supply chain processes such as shipping, receiving, distribution, invoicing, and returns, and lead to many benefits including cost reduction, efficiency, and order accuracy. 

How to get an SSCC code?

To get started, you can leverage an existing GS1 Company Prefix that you have already used to create UPC barcodes. If you have only licensed single GS1 US GTINs, you will need to license a GS1 Company Prefix to meet SSCC requirements. Be sure to visit our list of GS1 Standards ProfessionalBarcode Image and Print Vendors to help you generate the SSCC in a GS1-128 barcode. Also, be sure to check out more information on the GS1-128 barcode

Putting SSCCs into action

Whether you are just getting started or are an experienced business owner, leveraging GS1 Standards and barcodes can help you meet new trading partner requirements, improve logistics, efficiencies, and establish credibility with retailers and consumers alike. 

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