General guidelines for barcode placement on outer packages
An outer package must be marked so that the barcode can be read even if the package is on a pallet. This means that:
- At least one side of the outer package must be marked with a barcode.
- If the package cannot be turned when on a pallet, two sides should be marked with a barcode.
- The barcode must not be placed on the bottom of the package.
For the grocery sector, if only one side of the package is marked with a barcode then the packages must be stacked on the pallet so that the barcode is on the same side as one of the pallet labels.
The barcode must be placed to that its lower edge is 32 mm ± 3 mm from the bottom of the package. The distance between the side of the package and the edge of the barcode shall be at least 19 mm.
The ITF‑14 barcode is often printed with bearer bars that are 4.8 mm wide. This means that an ITF‑14 barcode must be placed on the outer package so that the lower edge of the bearer bars is 27.2 mm ± 3 mm from the bottom of the package. The distance between the side of the package and the bearer bars must be at least 19 mm. If an ITF‑14 is printed without bearer bars, the distance between the side of the package and the closest bar must be at least 34 mm.
Exceptions from the guidelines for low packages
Sometimes the side of a package is too low for there to be sufficient space for the barcode. In such cases it is often easier to use a barcode label rather than print the barcode directly on the package. In order to make room for a barcode on a low package you may:
- Place the barcode closer than 32 mm from the bottom of the package.
- Print plain text information alongside rather than under the barcode.
Remember when using trays and shrink-wrap
A tray consists of a base with low vertical sides. The package is often shrink-wrapped to stabilise and protect the contents so that they do not fall out. Since the package has low vertical sides you may need to place the barcode closer than 32 mm from the bottom and/or print plain text information alongside rather than under the barcode.
It is often not possible to print the barcode directly on the packaging and therefore necessary to mark the package with a barcode label. It is very important that the barcodes on the inner packages cannot be read through the shrink-wrap. You can avoid this by:
- Packing the consumer packages on the tray so that the barcodes are facing inwards.
- Hiding the barcodes on the consumer packages with the tray.
- Using a patterned shrink wrap so that the barcodes on the consumer packages cannot be read.