FAQs- GTINs: UPC Company Prefixes : Barcodes

Frequently Asked Questions

GTINs, UPC Company Prefixes, and Barcodes

What is a GTIN?

A GTIN (global trade item number) is an umbrella term to describe varying types of numeric GS1 data strings for item and carton identification. It is a number that uniquely identifies your individual good or service in the global market. In the United States, the term UPC is a form of a product GTIN.

What is a UPC Company Prefix?

A company prefix that complies with GS1 Standards (a “GS1 Company Prefix”) is a unique number that is assigned to just your company by GS1 US. It’s the foundation of GS1 Standards and is used in identification numbers, including Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) that identify products. GS1 Company Prefixes come in different capacities and prices depending on how many identification numbers you need to create.

What functions does the GS1 global standards agency provide?

GS1 is the global standards organization which establishes the GTIN identification specifications and licenses GS1 Company Prefixes and single GTIN assignments.

Why should companies get a GS1 prefix?

Obtaining a GS1 Company Prefix provides proof that your company, and only your company, is authorized to use your particular prefix and all identification numbers associated.

Can I get GTINs without licensing a UPC Company Prefix?

Yes. If you only need a few GTINs, you can obtain individual GTINs for a one-time fee of $70 each, with no annual renewal fee. You'll also receive the high quality UPC .eps digital barcode file (print-ready file). When you license a GS1 US GTIN, your company is uniquely and exclusively identified as the owner of that GTIN. To obtain singleGTINs, please visit:

Since Company Prefixes are available at costs, how do I know which option to select?

The cost of a GS1 Company Prefix is determined by the quantity of identification numbers it can create. To determine the capacity you need, carefully consider the number of products you are currently producing as well as any future products. Keep in mind that each variation of a product needs a unique GTIN that can then be placed in a UPC-A barcode. For example, if a specific product is produced in three colors and four sizes, you would need to assign 12 unique numbers (GTINs) to that particular style. You should also consider the number of new product variations or new items your company is planning to produce in the near future (about three years). Keep in mind that if you end up only utilizing a small portion of GTINs under a prefix, you'll still have to pay the full prefix renewal cost. Through this method, you'll avoid constantly needing to obtain prefixes and obtain a prefix that will fit your company's needs.

What happens if I run out of numbers (GTINs)?

If you have obtained a prefix and have utilized all the identification numbers (GTINs) under the prefix, you are able to obtain additional GTINs (either a prefix or singleGTIN) for your company. To begin the process: www.barcode-us.com.

My Company Prefix Certificate shows both a UPC Company Prefix and a GS1 Company Prefix. What is the difference and which one should I use?

The difference between a GS1 Company Prefix and a U.P.C. Company Prefix is that the GS1 Company Prefix has a preceding zero. The UPC Company prefix is used to assign product GTINs (UPCs) whereas the GS1 Company prefix is used in other cases.

What do I do with the Prefix Certificate?

Even though there is a function on the agency's website to print a copy, there is really no need for a physical version. Access to the GTIN.cloud management portal is included with all GS1 Barcode Service programs. Members will digitally upload their certificate and it will automatically be associated with each respective GTIN search inquiry.

How can my customers and prospects verify my GTINs or Company Prefix?

Companies can verify your GTIN or GS1 Company Prefix by visiting GTIN.cloud. They can search the database by entering in the GTIN and the published GTIN information, including product image and GTIN/prefix certificate, will appear.

Why do I need to keep my company prefix license current, even after I have used all the UPCs?

If you allow your Prefix License Agreement with GS1 to expire, your prefix will be terminated. This means you will no longer be authorized to use UPCs from your prefix on your products. Your company will no longer appear in the GS1 Company Database, so trading partners won’t be able to verify your UPCs, which may cause a delay in selling your products.

What is the difference between a UPC and a GTIN?

GTINs, UPCs, and other types of barcodes are often confused as the same thing, but they are different. Let us define the key difference between them. There are data carriers and data itself in the GS1 System. In this case, the data carrier is the actual barcode that holds critical data for scanners to read, such as the GTIN. A GTIN stands for Global Trade Item Number and the GTIN-12 is encoded in a UPC-A barcode that allows the GTIN-12 to be scanned by a barcode reader, like the ones used by a cashier at checkout. GTINs by themselves are typically used in online retail, databases, and electronic transactions, such as EDI. UPC stands for Universal Product Code and is frequently used interchangeably with GTIN or a barcode.

Does the GS1 global standards agency provide barcodes and support?

No. The agency administers GTIN/Company Prefix assignments and provides educational classes. The only support provided is for managing their licensing membership. The GS1 Barcode Service provides the necessary support and actual .eps barcode files, which are required by printers.

Do I need a UPC-A barcode if I am only selling my products online?

The short answer is “maybe.” More and more online companies are requiring GTINs and UPCs for unique product identification, so it is always a good idea to check the vendor requirement documents that are generally published by retailers.

When I scan my product barcodes on my smartphone, how come I do not see any data?

The GTIN in a UPC barcode is not automatically linked to barcode scanning applications on the internet. They are simply used to identify your products at various points in the supply chain. There are numerous internet apps you can explore for smartphone purposes, but GS1 US does not provide any.

What is the difference between a low-resolution png or jpg files versus a vector based .eps image file?

A JPG file is an image saved in a compressed format. Once resized, it will look pixelated and lose its quality. An EPS file is saved in a vector format with transparency and can be resized indefinitely without losing its quality. EPS files are saved as mathematical coordinates rather than pixels and are ideal for digital barcode artwork. ONLY EPS files should be used for package and coupon design!

GTINs - Barcodes - GTIN.cloud® - Personal Support

We Provide More Than Just Barcodes!

Access to GTIN.cloud® enables members to completely manage their GTIN assignments, create high-resolution barcodes, and control their associated product data.

More importantly, an assigned personal GS1 Barcode consultant will not only assist with any and all questions but will validate information BEFORE publishing.