Registering UPC Codes: Avoid UPC Mismatches and Properly Register UPCs


February 3, 2021

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It happens like this...

Some unsuspecting seller buys a block of barcodes (UPCs) they found from a no-name website claiming to sell valid UPCs. He or she proceeds to assign these UPCs to each of their UPC-less SKUs.

Now, one of two things happens:

  1. The seller discovers that the UPC code already exists (legitimately) for another product. When the seller goes to list his/her products to (as an example), the product gets listed as the 'wrong' product under the 'wrong' brand.
  2. The seller discovers that another sellers purchased an overlapping set of UPC codes from another sketchy service—or even the same service—which once again results in an incorrectly mapped product.

Don't be that seller. Read up on the ins and outs of how to use UPC codes, and learn how to register your company properly with GS1, the governing body that assigns company prefixes and UPCs.

How to Register UPC Codes (The Right Way)

1. Get a single GS1 US GTIN or GS1 Company Prefix based on your product line growth. A Company Prefix is a variable length number based on the number of unique SKUs you need to barcode.

2. Choose Product (GTIN) for physical products. GTIN means Global Trade Item Number. You've probably heard of UPC, EAN, ISBN—they're different types of GTINs.

3. Determine the type of barcode. UPC-A is what you'll want if you're selling products online or in physical stores.

4. Find out how many UPCs you will need. Each variation of a product you sell requires a unique barcode. You’ll need to determine exactly how many barcodes you need Pricing for a single GS1 US GTIN is $30 (no renewal fees) and pricing for bundles utilizing the Company Prefix depends on the number of UPCs needed. Pricing chart is below.

5. Use GS1 US Data Hub to create and manage UPCs.As a part of your membership with GS1 US you will gain access to GS1 US | Data Hub Product, the tool you use to create your own barcodes and manage your product data.

6. Place UPC codes on your products. This can be done gradually since you'll likely want to incorporate it in your packaging process.

GS1 US Identifier Pricing Schedule

Number of items needing a barcode Initial fee Annual renewal fee
1 $30 N/A
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

UPC Code Prefix Allocation Schedule

If your U.P.C. Company Prefix is…You can create this many U.P.C. barcodes...
6 digits100,000
7 digits10,000
8 digits1,000
9 digits100
10 digits10

General Guidelines to Keep in Mind

  1. Don't buy UPCs from vendors that are not certified by GS1. Use GS1 US Data Hub or a GS1 US Solution Provider.
  2. Don't make up your own UPCs using some math formula you found online.
  3. If you are not the brand owner and you want to assign UPCs to their products that you sell, contact the brand owner and send them this article.

Additional Resources:

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