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GTINs and Barcodes

GTINs and Barcodes


What is a GTIN?

A Global Trade Item Number® (GTIN) is the number you see underneath the U.P.C. barcode symbol—and it’s the same number that’s encoded in the lines and spaces that the scanner reads. GTINs uniquely identify products at all item and package levels.

Where are GTINs used?

GTINs are used in barcodes scanned at retail point of sale and on inner packs, cases, and pallets of products scanned in a distribution or warehouse environment. They are also used to identify products sold online.

Do I need one if I only sell in stores or online?

They are commonly used on purchase orders and in delivery and payment documents. They can be encoded into various types of GS1 barcodes and Electronic Product Codes (EPCs), which are programmed into Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags. Also, they can be used in the Global Data Synchronization NetworkTM (GDSN®) through data pools and catalogs.


How to Construct a GTIN

You’ll assign each unique product a separate, unique GTIN. The rules for assigning GTINs help enable that every variation of an item is assigned a number that is globally unique. You create a GTIN by combining your GS1 US-issued U.P.C. Company Prefix number* with a unique product number that you assign, plus a check digit that helps to ensure the GTIN is created correctly. A GTIN, along with a U.P.C. barcode, can be used anywhere in the world.

*Tip: Use your U.P.C. Company Prefix to create GTINs for U.P.C. barcodes. Use the GS1 Company Prefix to create all other identifiers and barcodes. You can find both numbers on your GS1 Company Prefix Certificate.

Check out this wizard that walks you through constructing a GTIN!



Not all barcodes are the same. Find the perfect barcode for your products, based on your needs.

Store Checkout Avatar

Point of sale (checkout)

If your product will be sold at retail point of sale (or checkout), you’ll want to use a UPC-A barcode. It’s the most common barcode required by retailers in North America. U.P.C. barcodes help to ensure that all products are properly identified at retail point of sale. The U.P.C. barcode promotes rapid product scanning, resulting in more accurate data that can be used by your trading partners.

UPC Barcode

Warehouses and Distribution Centers

If your products will pass through a warehouse, you’ll need to identify units such as cartons, cases, and pallets. There are two different barcodes that are most commonly used to identify cases: ITF-14 barcodes and GS1-128 barcodes.

ITF-14 barcodes will contain only the GTIN. The advantage of ITF-14 barcodes is that they can be pre-printed directly onto corrugated material, such as boxes. This saves you time and money.

ITF 14 Barcode

GS1-128 barcodes also contain the GTIN, but can also encode additional product information, including batch/lot number, weight, or expiration date. This is done by using Application Identifiers, or AIs, with the barcode. When scanning, AIs are used with the barcode to communicate specific types of information related to your product, such as batch number, weight, or expiration date, and are used in multiple industries.

GS1-128 Barcode
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