UPC Barcodes & Prefixes

What is a GS1 Company Prefix?

A GS1 Company Prefix is a number that is unique to each member of GS1 US and identifies you as the owner of the brand. It is a building block for every UPC barcode that you will create. If you have a product to sell and you want it to get discovered, having a valid UPC barcode is essential to your retail growth plan. Licensing a GS1 Company Prefix from GS1 US is an important first step toward barcoding your products and it can lead to a wide variety of other supply chain benefits in the future. 

From the GS1 Prefix, you not only hold the power to create numbers that identify your products, you can also identify cases of products, pallets, and company locations such as stores or warehouses.   

GS1 Company Prefix

Do I need a Company Prefix?  

Retailers, online marketplaces, distributors, and other partners often require UPC barcodes that come specifically from GS1 because it shows that you are a business they can trust. A Company Prefix helps to identify your company as the owner of your UPC barcode and the product that it’s on. When retailers check your UPCs in the GS1 database, they will see your company name associated with that product. If the barcode is associated with another company or is simply not found, you may risk rejection, and worse, you may incur additional costs to relabel your products with a barcode that meets retailer requirements. With your GS1 Company Prefix license, you can be sure that your UPCs are truly unique, are registered only to your company, and can be shared across trading partners.   

Brands that have many different types of products that come in various colors, styles, sizes, flavors, or scents often license a GS1 Company Prefix. GS1 Prefixes are great for companies with growing product lines. It gives you the barcodes you need for today plus barcodes at your fingertips to quickly respond to growth opportunities.  

How are Company Prefixes used?  

GS1 Prefixes are available in different “capacities” that allow you to barcode as few as 10 unique products and as many as 100,000 unique products. Be sure to choose the amount that best meets your needs now and in the near future. 

Prefixes can be accessed and used to create barcodes through GS1 US Data Hub, a free online tool that allows you to manage other types of product information too. You will use a version of your GS1 Company Prefix called a UPC Company Prefix to create the numbers that will be embedded in your UPC barcodes.  

Aside from creating UPC barcodes, a GS1 Company Prefix also helps support new consumer demands for supply chain transparency. It helps companies construct identification numbers for logistics units and locations to track and trace products around the world. This traceability also helps companies meet regulatory compliance requirements, specifically in industries regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), such as food and healthcare.  

What is the cost of a GS1 Company Prefix?

The cost of licensing a GS1 Company Prefix starts at $250, which enables you to create 10 barcodes. Prefix licenses must be renewed annually for a nominal fee. The cost of a GS1 Company Prefix is determined by the number of identification numbers it can create. GS1 US also licenses individual Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) for a one-time fee of $30 each, with no annual renewal fee.  GTINs are the unique identification numbers that are embedded in a UPC barcode (retailer guidelines may refer to GTIN and UPC interchangeably).  

I have a Prefix but how do I get a barcode?  

When you sign up for GS1 US membership, you do not automatically receive barcodes—you create them yourself using your GS1 Company Prefix and our GS1 US Data Hub tool. 

Creating a barcode means first assigning GTINs to your products. In GS1 US Data Hub, you will see helpful notes to guide you through the process of assigning GTINs and downloading your UPC barcodes. There are also Solution Partners who are experts trained in GS1 Standards that can help you with barcode labeling and printing.  

Your Prefix Comes with a GLN 

If you need to track the specific location of your products in the supply chain, the Global Location Number (GLN) helps identify physical locations such as stores, warehouses, mailboxes or departments, as well as an organization or legal entity. Your Company Prefix comes with an entity GLN and you can use your prefix to create more GLNs, following a similar process for how you create your GTINs. 

Why partner with GS1 US? 

Let us help you expand your business and prepare for growth. GS1 US helps companies to power their supply chains to deliver safe, consistent, authentic, and trusted experiences. Best known as a source for UPC barcodes, GS1 is a global data standards organization that creates a common language for companies to identify, capture and share trusted data that links their physical and digital supply chains.