Do you need a barcode?

A barcode is an information carrier. GS1 has developed global standards for how different data carriers should be formatted.

The process for creating a barcode has two steps:

  • First: Get the barcode number, also called a GTIN (from us)
  • Then: Make the optical barcode corresponding to the barcode number (use a barcode supplier)

 

The barcode number called a GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) is a number that is used to make items, packages and services unique and traceable. Putting the GTIN in a barcode makes it readable with a scanner.

Create a barcode (step-by-step guide)

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In order to create a barcode number (GTIN), you subscribe to a so-called company prefix from us. Using the company prefix, you create numbers to barcode label packages and pallets. A company prefix is a combination of digits that is unique to your company. This means that there is no other company in the world that has the same number. In addition, the GS1 numbers you create with your company prefix can be used throughout the world.

The company prefix can be a single number which can be used to create a barcode for one product, or alternatively a number series. We therefore recommend that you subscribe to a number series if you already need several GTINs or think that you will need more GTINs during the next year.

So, it is the number of GTINs that you need that determines if you should subscribe to a number series or a single number.

You will find the fees for a number series and single numbers at the following link. The fee is based on your company’s annual turnover.

Fees for a GS1 Company Prefix ›

You can order a subscription directly from our website ›

Or using a form that you can then send us by post ›

A certificate with your unique company prefix will be mailed to you within 1-2 working days.

The most common types of barcode in the GS1 system are EAN-13, GS1-128 and ITF-14. Which barcode type you should use depends for example on the package type and where in the flow the barcode is scanned (such as at a retail check-out or in a warehouse)

 

EAN-13

EAN-13 is used for consumer packages that are scanned at a check-out.

Read more about EAN-13 ›

 

ITF-14

ITF-14 is used to mark outer packages. ITF-14 is a robust barcode that can be printed directly on corrugated board, for example.

Read more about ITF-14 ›

 

GS1-128

GS1-128 is used to mark outer packages and pallets. GS1-128 can carry additional information as well as the item number, for example dates or batch number. This is done with application identifiers.

Read more about GS1-128 ›

 

Read more about barcode labelling ›

When you have received your certificate with your company prefix and decided what type of barcode you will use, you can start to calculate the numbers themselves. You use our page “calculate check digit” to calculate your numbers.

Calculate check digit ›

The structure consists of a combination of digits and letters. For a series of 1,000 numbers, for example, the structure looks like this:

 

FFFFFFFFF – is your company prefix which must be part of all barcode numbers you create.

AAA – is a sequence number. You decide this yourself. It can be anything from 000 to 999. We recommend that you number sequentially, i.e. 001, 002, 003 and so on. It is important that you keep track of the sequence numbers you have used since this is not something we register.

K – is a check digit that you calculate on our website. You cannot choose the check digit, it must be calculated. You can also calculate the check digit when you are logged in to MyGS1. Note that you must calculate the new check digit for every new barcode number you create.

Now that you have calculated the number, it is time to make the optical barcode.

In order for the barcode to be quickly and easily scanned with a barcode reader, it is extremely important that the barcode is of high quality. High quality means, for example, that the size of the barcode, the light margins and the module width are adequate as well as the barcode being correctly placed on the package. A size guide is available to ensure that barcodes have the best possible readability.

You will find the size guide here ›

Read more about barcode placement ›

It is often the producer itself which numbers and labels its packages with barcodes. You can either create the print master yourself or get someone to do it for you such as a packaging designer, advertising agency or printer.

We have a list of suggested barcode suppliers who we know follow our size guide for barcodes. You can, of course, get a printer or similar to help, but please refer them to the size guide.

List of barcode suppliers ›

If you want to print barcode labels yourself, you will need an “on demand” printer. Then it is a good idea to get in touch with a supplier of label printers and software for creating barcodes.

It is important to know how a barcode should be placed so that it can simply and efficiently be read by a scanner. A barcode which is incorrectly placed on the package can result in reduced readability by the scanner. For example, the barcode should not be wrinkled or folded round the corner of the product. You should place the barcode on a flat surface and never round a corner, over a join, perforation, seam or similar. If the package is wrapped in cellophane or some other film, the join should not be over the barcode.

You will find more information here ›

As early as possible, check that the barcode is of sufficiently high quality and complies with GS1’s standard. You can get help in checking your barcodes from GS1 BarcodeCheck. The service checks the readability, content and quality of your barcode. Then you know that the barcode can reliably be scanned by a barcode reader. If you discover too late that the barcode is not of sufficiently high quality and is difficult to scan, this can lead to high costs for destruction of pre-printed material or that an automated warehouse cannot handle the barcodes and must use manual processing.

Read more about barcode quality and hints for good readability ›

Read more about GS1 BarcodeCheck ›