Rules and recommendations

Rules and recommendations for such things as format, information content and placement of the GS1 Logistics Label are given below.

The GS1 Logistics Label can have any format, but there must be room for all essential information. The most common formats are A6 and A5, but A5 is often the best alternative.

  • A6 (width 105 mm, height 148 mm)
  • A5 (width 148 mm, height 210 mm)

Plain text information in the middle section of the label but be at least 7 mm high. Remember that the text must be readable from a distance of a couple of metres.

Plain text is also printed under each barcode. This must be at least 3 mm high and readable. OCR-B font is frequently used for the barcode’s plain text.

The GS1 Logistics Label must always contain the Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC) of the logistic unit, that is, the load on, for example, a pallet. The SSCC provides a unique identity for the unit which can be used as a reference to further information about the logistic unit in, for example, an electronic despatch advice.

The pallet label can also contain information about, for example, the items contained in the logistic unit as well as the batch number and expiry date for these items. The transport label often contains the postal code of the destination which can be used for automated sorting at transport terminals.

If the company sending a logistic unit to its customer also sends an electronic despatch advice with information about the contents of the unit, the label need only contain the unit’s SSCC. In this situation the customer can scan the SSCC on the label and fetch information about the unit from the despatch advice.

SSCC (Serial Shipping Container Code)

The Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC) provides a unique identity for the logistic unit which can be used as a reference to further information. The SSCC is the only mandatory information on the GS1 Logistics Label.

When a pallet label, a transport label and/or a store and customer label are used together it is essential that the SSCC is the same on each label or only printed on one of them.

GTIN (Global Trade Item Number)

It is mandatory to provide the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) on the pallet label if the recipient of the logistic unit has not been sent an electronic despatch advice.

When the logistic unit is the orderable unit, the GTIN of the unit shall be given on the pallet label.

When the orderable unit is the outer packages on the logistic unit, the GTIN of the outer package and number of outer packages shall be given on the pallet label.

Batch or lot number

If required, a batch or lot number can be given on the pallet label. GS1’s global standard for pallet labels states:

  • When the pallet contains items from a single batch or lot, the batch or lot number shall be given on the pallet label.
  • When the pallet contains items from more than one batch or lot, the batch or lot number shall not be given on the pallet label.

If a pallet contains more than one batch, the global standard assumes that this information will be sent in an electronic despatch advice or some other means. This is also GS1 Sweden’s recommendation.

Batch or lot number – Swedish sector agreement for multiple batch pallets without despatch advice

In conjunction with the introduction of regulations regarding the traceability of foodstuffs, the Swedish grocery sector agreed on rules for how multiple batch pallets should be handled when despatch advices are not sent between the parties.

The supplier creates an additional batch number or a “dummy” batch number when packages from different batches are placed on a homogenous pallet.

The “dummy” batch number is given on the pallet label and the supplier stores information about which batches were included in the “dummy” batch. In the event of a recall, the supplier can provide information on which real batches were included in the “dummy” batch.

Dates

Dates, such as best-before date, production date, packing date or expiry date can be given on the pallet label when there is a requirement to show dates. In the barcode dates are expressed in the format YYMMDD while in plain text there are printed as DDMMYY.

If the same date does not apply for all items on the logistic unit, the most critical should be given, for example the earliest packing date or the earliest best-before date.

Postal code

On the transport label it is usual to give the postal code of the destination since this is frequently used for automatic sorting at transport terminals.

Waybill number

A waybill number is a ten-digit number allocated by the Swedish International Freight Association to their members for use in domestic transport. If the waybill number is printed on the transport label the symbology Code 128 and not GS1‑128 must be used.

Please note that GS1 Sweden cannot answer questions about waybill numbers.

GSIN (Global Shipment Identification Number)

It is becoming more common that transport labels include a Global Shipment Identification Number (GSIN). This is a globally unique number which is used to identify a group of logistic units which are part of the same shipment. The GSIN meets the requirements of the World Customs Organization (WCO).for a Unique Consignment Reference (UCR).

GINC (Global ID Number for Consignments)

Sometimes transport labels include a Global ID Number for Consignments (GINC), but it is more usual for this number to be used in electronic messages. GINC is a globally unique number which is used to identify goods which are transported together.

In order to minimise the length of the barcode certain fields, such as SSCC and GTIN, have fixed lengths. Other information, for example batch or lot number, do not have fixed lengths.

Fields with variable length, such as batch or lot number, should be placed last so that the barcode is kept shorter. Further, no separator (Function Code 1, FNC-1) is needed to mark the end of the field.

For variable measure items it is sometimes necessary to show several dates and/or net weight. This can mean that the information must be split across three barcodes.

Recommended fields in the upper barcode of a pallet label:

  • GTIN of outer packages
  • Best-before date
  • Number of outer packages

Recommended fields in the lower barcode of a pallet label:

  • SSCC (note that the SSCC must always be in the lowest barcode)
  • Batch or lot number

For variable measure items it is sometimes necessary to show several dates and/or net weight. This can mean that the information must be split across three barcodes.

A mixed pallet which contains different items should be labelled with a pallet label containing the pallet’s SSCC.

Grocery retailers would also like one pallet label per item to be sent with the pallet. The retailers use these labels on receipt of the goods when they split the contents into homogenous pallets. If electronic despatch advices are used, and the parties agree, one pallet label per item should not be sent with the pallet. The buyer then prints out the individual items’ pallet labels using information from the despatch advice.

For very low logistic units it may be necessary to use a label with landscape orientation. In this case the text fields are placed on the left and the barcodes on the right. The figure below shows a split transport label, but a split pallet label is done the same way.

Example of a landscape label.