Choosing International Barcodes

What are ‘International Barcodes’ for?

International Barcodes are used for retail products worldwide in order to obtain the price at checkout for the product. They are also used by stores to keep track of stock, and establish reordering information. International barcodes come in either EAN-13 or UPC-A formats, both of which are designed for international use. The international barcoding system is administered by GS1 who also license out barcode numbers and charge various different fees (most expensively an annual membership fee due every year). Getting barcodes through GS1 can be an expensive affair, thankfully, there are other alternatives. In addition to GS1 there are a number of barcode resellers who supply international barcodes for a one-off cost. These numbers are part of the same system, however are now outside of GS1’s control and therefore don’t have any ongoing fees attached to them. This means that they work out to be considerably cheaper than GS1 barcodes.

What to get and where to get it?

First decide whether you need a UPC-A barcode or an EAN-13 barcode. UPC-A barcodes are used predominantly in the USA, whereas EAN-13 barcodes are used elsewhere. We recommend you base your decision on where you will sell most of your product. Please see our EAN-13 vs UPC-A page for more details. Once you have decided that you can purchase your barcodes. This will mean again deciding between GS1 and a barcode reseller (like us). As mentioned previously, it is much cheaper to go through a barcode reseller, however there are some restrictions on the use. Please see barcode acceptance for more details.

You can buy barcodes for a one-off cost here. A comparison of different barcode supply options can be found here.