Archive for EAN Barcodes

Everything you need to know about Barcodes

nwb_sq What We Provide:

  • Unique EAN and UPC Barcode Numbers always – never reused or recycled.  (UPC are used in US/Canada and can be read worldwide — EAN are used in Europe, Australia, Asia, South America)
  • Lightning Fast Digital Delivery. Barcodes within Minutes.
  • No Annual Fees, No Hidden Charges – barcodes never expire.
  • Free phone or email support – Access to our ‘after the sale videos’ and our 4-minute mentor video series.
  • Excel spreadsheet with all of your UPC and EAN numbers
  • EAN-13 and UPC-A graphics – EPS (scalable vector) and 600 dpi JPG. Barcodes are provided at 1.5″ x 1.0″ (38.27mm x 20.3mm) and can be scaled +/-20%.
  • Certificate of Authenticity/Transfer of Ownership
  • Our very comprehensive Resource and Support Guide.
  • Additional after the sale solutions including shipping container barcodes, QR Codes and free webinars.

Please note: UPCs/EANs are good for all products except items sold by variable weight (Meat, Bulk Products, Produce), Books (require ISBN) and Pharmaceuticals.

We provide all of the necessary tools for you to get you going with your barcodes. Our support and resource guide covers answers to many frequently asked questions, shipping container codes, detailed information about the certificate of authenticity, spreadsheet, barcode graphics, labels and much more. This is the perfect companion to our free eBook, "Barcodes Demystified" In addition to our after the sale support and resources, we provide a printable Certificate of Authenticity and transfer of ownership, spreadsheet of all numbers and EAN and UPC barcodes in both EPS and JPG formats.

What’s the difference between barcode, GTIN, UPC and EAN?

The term “Barcode” is a very general term that means any optical scanning symbology ranging from UPCs to the barcodes on direct mail pieces that you get.

The real term is GTIN which stands for Global Trade Identification Number. GTINs are a family of numbers and are all related. The GTIN-12 is the same as a UPC-A. GTIN-12 stands for Global Trade Identification Number – 12 Digits.

The GTIN-13 is the same as the EAN or EAN-13 and is a 13 digit number. The GTIN-12 (UPC) is used exclusively in the United States and Canada and the GTIN-13 (EAN) is used outside of the United States and Canada.

UPCs do not have a country code and EANs do. The additional leading digit on the EAN is the country code. Since we are a U.S. Based company, our EANs will start with a zero. These can be used worldwide. gtin

The other barcode in the illustration above is called a GTIN-14 or a shipping container barcode. This is part of the family of barcodes and sometimes your retailers will ask you to have one on the master container. The first number is a packaging indicator and should be any number between 1 and 7, the next number is a zero, the following 11 digits are the first 11 digits from the barcode used for the items inside the master container and the last number is a check sum (or check digit). If you need these, we can create these for you.  The reason that these are sometimes used is so they can automate their inventory receiving and warehouse management.

Ready To Order UPCs?Click here - immediate service.

Why do I need a UPC barcode?
Retailers require barcodes because UPC Barcodes are used to convey prices to the electronic cash registers in stores and are also used to help manage inventory.  By managing inventory, the retailer knows when to reorder products that have reached reorder points.

How many UPCs or EANs will I need?
You will need one for each product or variation of the product that you sell. If you are selling an item that comes in a variety of styles, sizes, and colors, you will need one for each variation. Each of these items is a SKU (Stock Keeping Unit). Each SKU is tracked individually so each item needs it’s own UPC or EAN barcode for tracking. UPC barcodes are used in the United States and Canada – these are 12-digit barcodes. EAN barcodes are used elsewhere – these are 13 digit barcodes. All Products, Food, Beverages, Clothing, CDs, Car Parts, Hardware, Tools, Nutraceuticals, all use the same version of a barcode.   If you are selling worldwide, here is a good article about how to combine EAN and UPC barcodes.

How do I get a UPC (or EAN)?

  • You go  to  the GS1
  • You come to Nationwide Barcode.

Here is an article about the differences between GS1 and Nationwide Barcode.

Here is how it works:
We own a large number of prefixes. These prefixes belong to us and each one allows us to generate 100,000 UPC and EAN barcodes. Although these prefixes may be under other trade names that are under our care and control, the individual UPCs and EANs that we sell have never been used. We guarantee that these numbers are pristine….not duplicated or previously used.

We continue to own and manage the prefix and are selling you a subset of the UPCs and EANs that we own. If you go to the GS1 and search the prefix, it will list the original manufacturer name. 90% of retailers do not require that you have your own prefix.

They simply take the barcode number along with your product info and enter it into their inventory system that connects to their Electronic Point of Sales systems.

If you are planning on selling into Kroger, Walmart/Sam’s Club, JC Penney’s, Macy’s/Bloomingdales, they absolutely require a direct relationship with the GS1,

The following stores depending on your national and regional scope may require a direct relationship with the GS1: Lowe’s, Home Depot, Walgreen’s, Sears,  Nordstrom’s, Neiman Marcus, K-Mart. Certain EDI/ESI and logistical companies who do business with Walmart and Kroger may also have the same requirements as Walmart and Kroger.

If you are listing your products on Amazon and doing your fulfillment, we may be a perfect solution…if you are tied into Amazon EDI they may require a direct relationship with the GS1. You should discuss acceptance of barcodes from a reseller vs. GS1 before making your purchase   If you are planning on selling to Walmart/Sam’s Club, J.C. Penney’s. Kroger’s, Macy’s or other stores that tie the UPC prefix into EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) you will need to get your UPCs directly from the GS1.

Effective September 28, 2014, if you are working with Amazon’s EDI system, they require a direct relationship with the GS1. If you are selling brand-name merchandise on Amazon that has an original manufacturer UPC you need to use that UPC.


Ready To Order UPCs?Click here - immediate service.

What’s the difference between You and some of those other guys?
We can’t speak for all of those other guys, but we can tell you that there are some resellers who charge way too much, there are a couple who make up numbers and there are some who are legitimate. The thing to look for is how comfortable you feel with the company that you are going to do business with. We wrote the definitive guide to barcodes (Barcodes Demystified) with excerpts from George Laurer, the inventor of the UPC Barcode.  We pride ourselves on providing you with all the information you need to do business and integrate UPCs into your product line. Look at their websites…then, look at ours. We do this because you are important. We sincerely appreciate you.

Three Very Important Things!

  • We are Better Business Bureau Accredited. This means that we have proven to them that we are an ethically based business (with no unresolved complaints).
  • We have been deemed “one of the legitimate guys” by George Laurer – the inventor of the UPC Barcode. He co-manages the Authenticated UPC Directory website and we provided him with all of our contractual information showing that we are legitimate.
  • We are Trustwave  certified – this indicates that we have a secure site that means a strict level of internet compliance.


Once you place your order for your Barcodes, you will be directed to a page where you can download your UPCs.

What do I do after I get my UPCs/EANs?
You either include the barcode graphic as part of your packaging design or (if it’s already done) get barcode labels. We’ll get you great prices from our friends at Pacific Barcode. They are fast, too. You are now ready for business and can start selling your products to stores  We have sold barcodes to clients who in turn sell on Amazon, to Lowes, Staples, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Office Max, Target and thousands of other stores. Click here to read some recommendations.

Ready To Order UPCs?Click here - immediate service.

Do I need to register my UPC barcodes?
There is no formal EAN or UPC database of products either nationwide or worldwide. You supply the stores with a list of your products, product details and the UPC/EAN number for each item. We also own – this is an optional registration service for U.S/Canadian companies that we provide where we push the data from the site to a variety of search engines. There are several reasons why you will want to upload your product to the site.

  1. You are formalizing the ownership of your UPC Barcode. If anyone ever made up a number that coincidentally was the number you own, you can use this as quick and easy proof that you own the number.
  2. It’s marketing…additional marketing is always good.
  3. This becomes an inbound link from our site to yours and will help with SEO of your site.
  4. It’s pretty cool to have your products available for the world to see,

How Barcodes Work:

  • There is nothing embedded in a UPC or EAN barcode except for the numbers that are beneath the barcode. When they enter the info into their database, the numbers are associated with your product. When a barcode scanner scans the barcode, it turns the bars back into numbers and looks for the item associated with it.
  • There are a number of ways that you can communicate this information to the retailers, your retailer will let you know how they want the information. Sometimes they will ask for a printed sheet with a list of your items, sometimes they will want an excel spreadsheet that they can upload to their database. This all depends on the number of items and their level of technical requirements.
  • The information that you have supplied gets entered into the computer that connects all of their POS systems (electronic cash registers). All of this is done at store level because there is no accurate and complete database of products, and if there was, it could potentially carry billions of items. That’s too much data for local stores to access, so, all stores only concern themselves with their inventory.
  • Your products are delivered to the retailer and once received into inventory and are now available for purchase.
  • Sometimes your retailers will ask you to add an additional barcode to the outside carton. They will refer to this as a Shipping Container Barcode or a GTIN-14. We can provide those too.
  • A customer picks up the item to be purchased and heads to the checkstand.
  • The item is scanned and the point of sale system (cash register) requests information about the product from the database. Once purchased, the Point of Sales system tells the database to subtract the number of items purchased.
  • The customer pays for the item and the transaction is complete.
Ready To Order UPCs?Click here - immediate service.
UPC/EAN QuantityUnit PriceTotal

Ready to buy?
Ready To Order UPCs?Click here - immediate service.

How do you register a barcode?

After you buy a barcode, the next steps are pretty simple. First, there are no formal comprehensive regional or world-wide database. Open sites like and are hobbyist sites that are really well done but contain a small fraction of barcodes and products, and, since it is an “open to the public” site, many times the barcode and product information can be inaccurate.

The true registration process is less formal than what people anticipate and is strictly between you and your retailers. When people purchase EAN or UPC barcodes from us, we provide a transfer of ownership (and certificate of authenticity) for the single or block of barcodes. We also send along an excel spreadsheet containing all of the numbers to make it easier to track which barcode goes with each of your products. The process of choosing which barcode goes with which product is completely arbitrary. Many people use the spreadsheet that I send to keep track of their barcode assignments.

Then, as you are about to launch a new product and sell it into stores, you assign one of the barcode numbers to the product and then convey the information about that product to your retailer.  If you are selling products that have variations (size, design, style, quantity, etc.), you will need to assign a different barcode number to each one of these items.

The retailer then inputs this into their inventory management system which is tied to their electronic point of sale systems.

The way it works is:
1. You tell the retailer about the product that is going into their store (description, price, barcode number)

2. The retailer enters the information into their database along with the starting inventory and usually the quantity where they plan on reordering your item(s).

3. Then, they sell the item…customer picks up the item in the store, takes it to the check stand, the item is scanned and the ‘cash register’ sends a query to the database. The database sends the item and pricing information to the ‘cash register’. At the same time the ‘cash register’ tells the database to remove the items purchased from inventory

Every retailer from your local hardware store to Amazon has their own ‘closed’ system. Every retailer has their own system based on the inventory management and accounting systems that they use.

Between UPC numbers (US and Canada) and EAN numbers (Europe, Australia, South America, Africa), there is the potential to have 100 Billion different numbers that can be used for barcodes.  (Not every series is used and some of the number series are reserved for internal use or coupons, but it’s still a massive number) Nobody wants to manage a database this large, so, everyone manages their own system that is relevant to their inventory.

When you purchase from Nationwide Barcode, you can sign up at UPC Barcodes .com, a site that will take your UPC Barcode and Product information and make it available  as part of an indexed data feed going to Google and Bing.

Learn how  to get your barcodes to show up on smart phones.

For musicians and video producers, Soundscan is an optional registration process.

Our philosophy

Message from founder and President, Phil Peretz

I appreciate our clients and hope that you will consider us for all of your EAN and UPC barcode needs. We want to make the purchase and ownership of UPC Barcodes and EAN Barcodes to be easy as possible for businesses of all sizes.

Our goal is to provide barcodes at a very fair price backed by world-class phone and email support for our clients. Whether you need 1 barcode for a single product to be sold at a local retailer, a batch for all of your products to be sold nationwide at stores like Whole Foods, Lowes, Costco, Fryes Electronics or other chain stores or you need thousands of barcodes for selling on Amazon, Google Merchant or other internet websites we will treat you like a VIP. We believe that our clients are our most valuable asset. We appreciate you and know that without out you, we wouldn’t be in business.

There is a lot of information on the internet about barcodes…some fact and some fiction.  We have a tremendous amount of information on our site and we do this to help you understand the process and to make an informed decision.

We take a no-nonsense approach to business and pride ourselves on working with you every step of the way. We also have an A rating with the Better Business Bureau. This demonstrates our business ethics. A rating and no customer complaints.

What we do is legal because of a class action suit won against the GS1 back in 2002 and our stockpile of barcode prefixes from our high tech manufacturing days.  We guarantee that our numbers have never been previously used nor recycled. When you buy from us, these numbers belong to you and become an asset of your organization. When we sell a number or block of numbers, our infrastructure allows us to lock these out of our system so they can never be resold to anyone else. We don’t like errors or surprises. We know you don’t either.

In addition to top-notch service, we also send you a link to download a complete resource and support guide….and we provide free phone and email technical support.

We have a video that we have produced that is a very comprehensive tutorial. You can find this video on our home page toward the bottom of the page.

We are commerce, SEO, marketing, graphics and merchandising professionals. Our sister company is Media Media Inc, a long standing member of Visual Media Alliance and Printing Industries of America. We know how important it is to get high quality graphics, guaranteed unique barcode numbers and an attention to detail not found anywhere else.

We also know that you need these quickly, so we have automated our site allowing you to get your barcodes within seconds of placing your order.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call our sales department or e-mail us directly at or, look in the bottom right hand corner of your screen and click on the contact tab.

Thank you for your business,

Phil Peretz
Nationwide Barcode
Direct Number: 775-376–8075

This direct number comes directly into my office. If you have questions and would prefer to speak directly to me instead of my customer service team, I welcome the call.

Are UPC-A and EAN-13 the same?

Before you buy a barcode, we have written this tutorial to help you understand the differences between UPC Barcodes and EAN Barcodes. Below are both an EAN barcode and a UPC Barcode. The EAN contains a 13 digit number and the UPC contains a 12 digit number.

UPC Barcode and EAN Barcode graphics

EAN = 0012345678905
UPC = (0)012345678905 or 012345678905

The GS1, the original source for barcodes has created the confusion between UPC (Universal Product Codes) and EAN (European Article Numbers also called International Article Numbers). The UPC-A barcode was the original format for product barcodes. As demand in Europe, Asia and Australia started growing, country codes were added.  US and Canada have a a country code of zero which is not printed under the barcode nor is it entered in US and Canadian Inventory and Point of Sale Databases.

If you look at the graphics above, you will see they are exactly the same. The width of the bars and the width of the spaces between the bars are exactly the same. The only major difference is the placement of the numbers below (human readable numbers) which are there only as a back-up in case the barcode doesn’t scan properly and the information has to be manually entered into the point of sale system.

UPC-A and EAN-13 graphic overlay

Taking this a step further, we have overlaid the UPC and the EAN graphics (symbologies) so you can see that the graphic is identical. The country code doesn’t appear beneath the barcode in a UPC since the GS1 didn’t grasp the importance of US  and Canada indicating country codes. They felt that since the majority of products sold in both countries originate from importers, distributors or manufacturers in the   USorCanada, they could forego the leading zero in the human readable numbers.

We still believe that if you are currently doing business in the United States and Canada exclusively, it is safer to order UPC barcodes for your products. Many retailers, especially smaller retailers may be using older accounting and inventory systems that only allow them to enter in 12 digit UPC numbers and not a 13 digit string. If this changes in the future, you can convert your 12 digit UPC to a 13 digit EAN by adding in the country code 0.  There is nothing on the horizon indicating that the USa nd Canada will ever switch over to EAN 13 barcodes.

This following information is used with permission from George Laurer– . Mr. Laurer is the inventor of the UPC barcode.

There seems to be considerable confusion concerning the difference and use of the U.P.C. code and EAN codes

“U.P.C. Version A” and “EAN-13” are and always have been 13 character symbols and the numbers themselves have always been 13 characters long. The U.P.C. (Version A) symbol and the EAN13 symbol are essentially one and the same. They both have the same number of bars and spaces.

* I have used the name UCC throughout to avoid confusion although it evolved to this name over many years. In 1975 it was called UPCC (Uniform Product Code Council).

The origin of EAN vs. U.P.C. confusion.

When I conceived the U.P.C. for the grocers in theU.S.only 12 digits were required including the check character. I designed a symbol in which the left half of the symbol was composed of “odd” parity characters and the right side was composed of “even” parity characters. Each printed character has two bars and two spaces and is made up of 7 modules. Odd parity simply means the printed representation of the numeric digit has an odd number of dark modules. Conversely even parity printed digits have an even number of dark modules.

The UCC* chose to call the U.P.C. a 10 character symbol and they chose to print only 11 of the characters in human readable form. The 10 characters identifying the manufacturer and item were printed below the bars. The “system number” character was printed halfway up the left side. Further, they chose to carry only 10 digits of the number in their files. The reason was both political and practical.

Before the symbol marking was considered a well know consulting firm had been hired by the fledgling UCC to determine the number of digits needed to accomplish the goals of the grocery industry. Considering many factors, not the least of which was the limited power of computers of the day, a figure of 10 digits was recommended. It was a tough sell to convince the many groups involved that they would have to change whatever numbering system they were using to the new 10 digit number. Rather than admit that the consulting firm was wrong and so as not to open the number of digit argument again, the decision was to maintain that the U.P.C. was a 10 digit symbol and number. Another factor considered was that it was more difficult to key the EAN human readable that the U.P.C. human readable when the symbol did not scan. They fostered the illusion by requiring that the check digit be stripped at the scanner. The SN (system number) was necessary for in store processing but it was not needed in records transferred between systems. The illusion was reinforced by not printing the SN in line with the 10 product identifying digits and not printing the check digit at all.

After the U.P.C. had been in use several years, Europerecognized the usefulness of the U.P.C. but realized a 13th digit was needed to identify the many countries. I encoded the extra digit by encoding the left half of the symbol with 3 characters of even parity and 3 characters of odd parity and then arranging them in various patterns, each pattern representing a different country code. The scanner recognizes a series of digits as the right half of a symbol if the parity of the characters is all even and it recognizes the left half if it is composed of all odd OR if three characters are odd parity and three characters are even parity characters.

With the acceptance of the EAN in Europe it was understood that the U.P.C. was actually 13 digits because the parity pattern of the left half of all odd characters was assigned the value (or country flag) of “0”. I pointed out that the UCC only printed 11 of the 13 digits and carried only 10 digits in the system. The UCC continued the delusion by using the foolish argument that “0” means nothing and therefore could be ignored. On the other hand, the European’s were smart enough from the very outset to call the EAN symbol what it is, “EAN-13” and they printed all 13 characters. Systems in Europe carried all 10 country flags including 0 in their records and their systems could process both U.P.C. and EAN symbols and/or numbers. The  U.S. groceries chains at the time were selling very few foreign goods and saw no reason to spend money modify their installed equipment. Although the U.P.C. was not widely accepted at that time, the UCC accommodated the foreign companies by issuing them U.P.C. numbers with the invisible country flag of “0”.

Although this was a burden on the European companies and was a waste of numbers since many European companies had both U.P.C. and EAN-13 numbers, it wasn’t until two decades later that something was done about this. In 1997 the Uniform Code Council, Inc announced project SUNRISE. This initiative required that all U.S. and Canadian companies must be capable of scanning and processing EAN-13 symbols, in addition to U.P.C. symbols, at point-of-sale by January1, 2005. This has been completed, the UCC has changed its name to GS1 US, and they have taken the responsibility of controlling both U.P.C. and EAN numbers.

Simply put the U.P.C. and EAN-13 symbols and numbers are the same. Below is a U.P.C. symbol with its equivalent EAN-13 superimposed in red. One can see that the bars and space are the same, only the human readable is different. Note that the U.P.C. has evolved in that the check digit is now printed and also that the SN has been brought down in line with the other characters but the country flag is still not printed. I would expect that in the near future the human readable will also be changed to the EAN format.

UPC-A and EAN-13 image

Because there are more than 9 countries, the country flags have been further subdivided by using the next two digits for various uses and countries. The United  States and Canada have the country flag 0 and subdivisions 000 thru 139. It is interesting to note that the publishing industry produces so many products that it is its own country called “Bookland” for number assignment purposes. Bookland has been given two subdivisions of the country flag 9. They are 978 and 979.

–end of article by George Laurer.






Watch our Video

Looking to buy a barcode?  Want to learn how barcodes work and how  they help you get your product to market? Watch our informative video about EAN and UPC barcodes.

Nationwide Barcode Facts

Periodically we do a search to see what our competitors are doing and we chuckle at the assortment of nonsense in the marketplace. There are people touting that they are the official source or official site. There is one fellow who tells people to be wary of low prices. There is one that says, “Avoid Shady Imitators.” Our marketing strategy is to lead with knowledge…not to diminish our competitors with their weaknesses.

There are two classes of businesses that sell barcodes. Those that obtained their prefix prior to August of 2002 and those that haven’t.  The ones who obtained prefixes prior to this date can sell or subdivide their barcode prefixes. There are only a couple of businesses that are violating their agreement with the GS1 (where all barcodes originate) and they can be found here:

We fall within the first class. We legally and professionally do what we do….and we do it really well. In addition, we have an A Rating with the Better Business Bureau. This speaks to our being an ethically based business.

Nationwide Barcode is in the business of selling barcodes.  We do have another business which focuses on new business development, marketing and promotion. We help people and companies get better at what they do. For us, our business is working with people in business. It’s not Horse Chiropractic, selling fishing bobbers or other unreleated diversion. Our focus is helping people market themselves or their products…and a barcode is a very important part of that.

We are listed on Mr. George Laurer’s Website as being a legitimate reseller, we are the preferred vendor of choice a ton of clients but most notably, Pandora. Pandora is the world’s largest internet radio company that dovetails with Amazon.

We have thousands and thousands of repeat customers throughout the world equally divided between small to mid size manufacturing companies, independent musicians and Amazon resellers. We obtained all of our prefixes prior to that August 2002 date, we’re part of a grandfathered program with the GS1 which insures that can do what we do and we don’t pay renewal fees. Since we do not pay renewal fees, neither do you.

Our business is based on providing barcodes at a very affordable price. We can afford to be the lowest in price because of simple supply and demand.

We have a very large supply and there is a high demand. Since we have a high demand, we can afford to be the least expensive in the industry. We want to make a lot of money but our strategy is to make money based on the volume of barcodes sold…not from one customer.

In addition, we base our business on great customer service and knowledge. This knowledge is not just about barcodes but about retail and wholesale process management. We know how barcodes work, we understand graphic design and label manufacturing and wholesale and retail process flows. We are members of Printing Industry of America, Visual Media Alliance and several Amazon groups that allow us to stay informed of upcoming changes in the industry.

Our goal is to be  the ‘last man standing’ in this industry. The majority of our competition only has one barcode prefix, they are attempting to turn a quick buck from this asset. This means, when they sell out, they’ll disappear. Your barcodes will continue to be good, but if you need support, you lose your certificate of authenticity and need help, they will be gone. When you need support a year or two or five years from now, we’ll be here.

With our reserve of almost two million barcodes, we will be around for a long, long time…plus with our secondary business of ‘new business development’, we’re not that hard to find. Our business is helping you. It’s what we do.

We have a toll free number and each order comes to you with Nationwide Barcode’s President and Founder, Phil Peretz’ direct phone number. If you want to contact Phil by e-mail, you can e-mail him at – He answers every email personally. Nationwide Barcode appreciates your business.

Why our ‘All Sales Final Policy’ is the best guarantee for you.

If you are looking for guaranteed unique barcode numbers, our fair but firm policy makes the most sense for you.  Because of our integrity and unique business proposition, you are safer buying barcode numbers from Nationwide Barcode than from any other reseller.

1. We guarantee 100% that our numbers are unique. If we had to refund you, we would lock these numbers out of our database. We would refund your money if there were duplicated numbers or if the numbers were ‘no good.’

With over a million barcodes in our pool, we have never had to refund anyone.

We are careful. We know that doing it right thing the first time is important.

2. Our customers are smart.
You know what you are doing and if you don’t, you are smart enough  to know to call and ask questions so we can help coach you in this labyrinth of barcodes.

3. We do not take barcodes back…ever. We do not take a barcode that we issued to one person and put it back into our database.  We do not have a 1-day, 5-day, 7-day or 30-day buyback policy. We cannot take this chance. Since our customers are smart (see #2) this will not be an issue.

This is a potential issue with the majority of our competitors. Since they cannot compete against us with experience, knowledge of the industry nor price, they create Return Policies to make you feel good about doing business with them. A guarantee is good (If you have a problem with a number, we’ll give you your money back), a return policy  creates a pool of ‘used’ barcodes.  We don’t do that.

We value all of our customers and want to make sure everything goes perfect. That’s our commitment.

What’s the Difference between a UPC and EAN?

There are two components to a barcode graphic. The barcode graphic and the number beneath the bars.

EAN = 0012345678905
UPC = (0)012345678905 or 012345678905

The GS1, the original source for barcodes, has created the confusion between UPC (Universal Product Codes) and EAN (European Article Numbers also called International Article Numbers). The UPC-A barcode was the original format for product barcodes. As demand in Europe, Asia and Australia started growing, country codes were added. (We have a list of country codes on this site). US and Canada have a a country code of zero which is not printed under the barcode nor is it entered in US and Canadian Inventory and Point of Sale Databases.

If you look at the graphics above, you will see they are exactly the same. The width of the bars and the width of the spaces between the bars are exactly the same. The only major difference is the placement of the numbers below (human readable numbers) which are there only as a back-up in case the barcode doesn’t scan properly and the information has to be manually entered into the point of sale system

Taking this a step further, we have overlaid the UPC and the EAN graphics (symbologies) so you can see that the graphic is identical. The country code doesn’t appear beneath the barcode in a UPC since the GS1 didn’t grasp the importance of US and Canada indicating country codes. They felt that since the majority of products sold in both countries originate from importers, distributors or manufacturers in the US or Canada, they could forego the leading zero in the human readable numbers.

We still believe that if you are currently doing business in the United States and Canada exclusively, it is safer to order UPC barcodes for your products. Many retailers, especially smaller retailers may be using older accounting and inventory systems that only allow them to enter in 12 digit UPC numbers and not a 13 digit string. If this changes in the future, you can convert your 12 digit UPC to a 13 digit EAN by adding in the country code 0.  There is nothing on the horizon indicating that the US and Canada will ever switch over to EAN 13 barcodes.

Other countries are able to scan and read UPC barcodes.

Are UPC Barcodes the “Mark of the Beast”?



The short answer is “no”

The longer answer follows:

Revelation 13: (17) so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name. (18) This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.

Barcodes are all database driven. The barcode only represents a series of numbers containing a prefix, item numbers and a check digit.

The numbers corresponding to the barcode are scanned or entered into a database exactly as indicated below the barcode (the human readable numbers). Along with the barcode number, the information relating to the product including ‘regular’ and ‘sale’ price is also entered. When an item is scanned, the information is pulled from the database and the customer is charged the proper amount of money, at the same time, inventory is adjusted downward.

There are the three sets of guard bars, two bars on the far left, the far right and in the middle. Since these guard bars appear three times in a barcode, and look similar to the number 6, some people have claimed that the pattern 6-6-6 was embedded in every barcode.

According to Mr. Laurer, the inventor of the UPC/EAN barcode, “There is nothing sinister about this nor does it have anything to do with the Bible’s mark of the beast. Each character is a fixed length, 7 modules and composed of two spaces and two bars. From the outer ends toward the center, the character starts with a space and therefore a single bar is required to ‘close’ the character. The other bar is used to allow the level setting (gain) circuitry to adjust to the contrast of the particular symbol. The center pattern is narrow space, narrow bar, narrow space, narrow bar. This pattern is 4 modules wide and distinguishes it from the a 7 module character thus giving direction and end information to the logic. The assignment of digits to specific patterns was arbitrary.’

Barcodes are one of the things that helped bridge the gap between physical products and automated inventory tracking.

Sources:  and common sense.

How is price determined in a Barcode?

There is no data, except for the barcode number itself, embedded in a UPC or EAN barcode. When the scanner at the checkstand scans the product and reads the barcode, the electronic cash register sends the number to the stores central database where the number is looked up. The central database sends the information back to the cash register where the customer is charged.

If there was pricing embedded in a barcode, nothing would ever be able to go on sale without replacing all of the barcodes. This allows the store to change the pricing as needed and gives complete flexibility to the store to put things on sale.

UPC and EAN Country Codes

We get a lot of questions from clients about barcodes and if you can tell where something is manufactured.

Barcode prefixes do not provide identification of origin for a specific product. They merely provide number capacity to different countries for assignment of barcode prefixes by the GS1.

UPC  Barcodes do not show the leading zero. A UPC Barcode that starts with 7 would have a country code of 070 – 079.

Here is the current list of country codes

  • 000 – 019 U.S. and Canada
  • 020 – 029 Restricted distribution
  • 030 – 039 U.S. drugs (see U.S. National Drug Code)
  • 040 – 049 Restricted distribution (MO defined)
  • 050 – 059 coupons
  • 060 – 099 U.S. and Canada
  • 100 – 139 U.S.
  • 200 – 299 Restricted distribution
  • 300 – 379 France and Monaco
  • 380 Bulgaria
  • 383 Slovenia
  • 385 Croatia
  • 387 Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • 389 Montenegro
  • 400 – 440 Germany (440 code inherited from old East Germany on reunification, 1990)
  • 450 – 459 Japan
  • 460 – 469 Russia
  • 470 Kyrgyzstan
  • 471 Taiwan
  • 474 Estonia
  • 475 Latvia
  • 476 Azerbaijan
  • 477 Lithuania
  • 478 Uzbekistan
  • 479 Sri Lanka
  • 480 Philippines
  • 481 Belarus
  • 482 Ukraine
  • 484 Moldova
  • 485 Armenia
  • 486 Georgia
  • 487 Kazakhstan
  • 488 Tajikistan
  • 489 Hong Kong SAR
  • 490 – 499 Japan
  • 500 – 509 United Kingdom
  • 520 – 521 Greece
  • 528 Lebanon
  • 529 Cyprus
  • 530 Albania
  • 531 Macedonia
  • 535 Malta
  • 539 Ireland
  • 540 – 549 Belgium and Luxembourg
  • 560 Portugal
  • 569 Iceland
  • 570 – 579 Denmark, Faroe Islands and Greenland
  • 590 Poland
  • 594 Romania
  • 599 Hungary
  • 600 – 601 South Africa
  • 603 Ghana
  • 604 Senegal
  • 608 Bahrain
  • 609 Mauritius
  • 611 Morocco
  • 613 Algeria
  • 615 Nigeria
  • 616 Kenya
  • 618 Côte d’Ivoire
  • 619 Tunisia
  • 621 Syria
  • 622 Egypt
  • 624 Libya
  • 625 Jordan
  • 626 Iran
  • 627 Kuwait
  • 628 Saudi Arabia
  • 629 United Arab Emirates
  • 640 – 649 Finland
  • 690 – 695 China, The People’s Republic
  • 700 – 709 Norway
  • 729 Israel
  • 730 – 739 Sweden : EAN/GS1 Sweden
  • 740 Guatemala
  • 741 El Salvador
  • 742 Honduras
  • 743 Nicaragua
  • 744 Costa Rica
  • 745 Panama
  • 746 Dominican Republic
  • 750 Mexico
  • 754 – 755 Canada
  • 759 Venezuela
  • 760 – 769 Switzerland and Liechtenstein
  • 770 – 771 Colombia
  • 773 Uruguay
  • 775 Peru
  • 777 Bolivia
  • 779 Argentina
  • 780 Chile
  • 784 Paraguay
  • 785 Peru
  • 786 Ecuador
  • 789 – 790 Brazil
  • 800 – 839 Italy, San Marino and Vatican City
  • 840 – 849 Spain and Andorra
  • 850 Cuba
  • 858 Slovakia
  • 859 Czech Republic
  • 860 Serbia
  • 865 Mongolia
  • 867 North Korea
  • 868 – 869 Turkey
  • 870 – 879 Netherlands
  • 880 South Korea
  • 884 Cambodia
  • 885 Thailand
  • 888 Singapore
  • 890 India
  • 893 Vietnam
  • 896 Pakistan
  • 899 Indonesia
  • 900 – 919 Austria
  • 930 – 939 Australia
  • 940 – 949 New Zealand
  • 950 GS1 Global Office: Special applications
  • 951 EPCglobal: Special applications
  • 955 Malaysia
  • 958 Macau
  • 960 – 969 GS1 Global Office: GTIN-8 allocations
  • 977 Serial publications (ISSN)
  • 978 – 979 Bookland (ISBN) – 979 formerly used for sheet music
  • 980 Refund receipts
  • 981 – 983 Common Currency Coupons
  • 990 – 999 Coupons

Prefix 950 (GS1 Global Office) is used for special applications and bi-lateral agreements.

Is there data encrypted within a UPC or EAN bar code?

No. The bar code bars represent only the  number below. There is no other information contained within the bar code. All information is supplied to you to the wholesaler or retailer.

A barcode is a graphical representation of the numbers below the graphic. UPC and EAN barcodes rely on data being entered into the retailers database. The 12 digit UPC or 13 digit EAN number is associated with the product name, specifications and selling price. When a barcode is scanned, a query is sent to the database and the response is the information about the product.

Will my barcode work at every store?

The majority of retailers throughout the world will accept UPC or EAN Barcodes from Nationwide Barcode.

The exceptions are some of the major retailers like JP Penney’s, Krogers and Walmart. These retailers require that you provide certificates directly from GS1.

We have heard that Walgreen’s and Macy’s also asks for the barcode certificate but may optionally input the UPC number of each product.

It is your responsibility to ask your retailers if they will accept UPC or an EAN numbers from a company that subdivides barcodes.

Click on this link for information about the difference between the GS1 and Nationwide Barcode to make an educated decision about buying barcodes.

How many Bar Codes do I need?

UPC and EAN Barcodes are used for both conveying pricing information to the Point of Sale Systems in stores (electronic cash registers) and maintaining inventory for the retailer.

You need as many barcodes as you have products or variations of products.

If you are selling shoes, you would need one unique barcode for each style, color and size.
If you are selling soft drinks, you would need one for the 12 oz. can, the 12 oz. bottle, the six or twelve-packs, and the liters of each flavor.

Every variation of a product needs a unique barcode.

If you only have one product and you are manufacturing one or 1,000,000 – each piece will have the same barcode number.

How does a bar code work?

When you sell your products to a wholesaler or retailer (Amazon, Target, Borders Books, Autozone, etc.), they will have you supply them or will have you fill out a product information sheet.

The things that you put on that sheet is your company and product information including the UPC/EAN code number for each product.

Then, the wholesaler or retailer enters this information in their information systems computer. This computer ties into the registers at the front of the store. The cashier scans your item and the information comes up. Every time an item is scanned and sold, it deducts the number of items sold from their inventory.

EAN Barcodes

An EAN-13 barcode (originally “European Article Number”, but now renamed ”International Article Number”) is a 13 digit (12 + check digit) barcoding standard which is a superset of the 12-digit Universal Product Code (UPC) system developed in the United States.

The EAN-13 barcodes are used worldwide (excluding US and Canada) for marking products often sold at retail point of sale. The numbers encoded in EAN-13 bar codes are product identification numbers, which are also called Japanese Article Number (JAN) in Japan.

Introduction to Barcodes

There are two types of barcodes for retail products, UPC – Universal Product Code and EAN  — European Article Number. We are going to focus on the 12-digit UPC-A barcodes since they are the most common and these are easily readable everywhere.

Wherever you go, the grocery store, department store, on line at Amazon or your own refrigerator or pantry, you’ll find that everything that you purchase has a UPC barcode on it. Sometimes they are a little hard to find, but if you flip the package around, it’s there.

A barcode is an optical machine-readable representation of data. The first use of barcodes was to label railroad cars, but they were not commercially successful until they were used to automate supermarket checkout systems, a task in which they have become almost universal.

Systems such as RFID are attempting to change the standard, but the simplicity, universality and low cost of printed barcodes has limited the role of these other systems. It costs less than one-half of one cent to implement a printed barcode compared to seven to thirty cents to implement a passive RFID.*

George Joseph Laurer developed the Universal Product Code in 1973. As an engineer at IBM he was asked to develop the pattern used for the Universal Product Code (UPC-A Barcode).

GS1, which used to be called the Uniform Code Council (UCC) is the provider of UPC barcode prefixes. A company goes to the GS1, they purchase the prefix and then are responsible for the self-assignment of the identification numbers that go after the prefix.

The Barcode prefix, the first 6, 7, 8 or 9 digits, is called a UPC Barcode Prefix The company who has been assigned the UPC Barcode Prefix is responsible for the assignment of the next digits (making up a total of eleven digits) to their products.

Then, as the barcode number is designated, the last number is mathematically determined through an algebraic equation to create a checksum (check digit). This check digit is the twelfth or final digit. When you join GS1, you get a prefix certificate along with your start-up package.

As far as we know, there are only a small handful of companies that require a copy of this certificate: Kroger’s, Walmart/Sam’s Club and Macy’s.

Unless you are specifically going to do business with these three chains, you have the option of using a company that is legally able to subdivide their barcode prefix.

The GS1 maintains the database of UPC Prefixes. It is our opinion that, although this database is conceptually a great idea, and has to be maintained, it is virtually ignored, unknown and unused.

Retailers input information from product data sheets filled out or given to them by their suppliers. The supplier gives the retailer the product information including the barcode based on the complete 12 digit code and the retailer enters it into their point of sale system.

There are no formal centralized databases of product barcodes. Using the mathematical formula x=1110 there are potentially 10 billion products that can be represented by UPC-A barcodes at any given time.

This, more than anything else, explains why there is no centralized database of products. No one has the bandwidth, energy or resources to catalog something this massive.

There is nothing programmed into a UPC barcode. The bars only represent the 12 digit number that is the barcode. The retailer associates these 12 numbers with the product information. This information is pulled from the retailer’s database when a product is scanned.

You have two choices when you need to buy a barcode or block of barcodes. You purchase directly from the GS1 (They charge a minimum of $750.00 plus a yearly renewal fee) or you purchase from us or a company like Nationwide Barcode ( .

Nationwide Barcode and similar companies received their prefixes in the 90’s or early 2000’s

In 2002 GS1 attempted to codify the agreement with UPC Barcode prefix holders which included renewal fees. The codified agreement included rules that were in the form of a contract which included not being able to subdivide a barcode number. Prior to this, there were no signed agreements with any prefix holders including Multicom Publishing.

The GS1 decided to change the way they were doing business. They started sending out renewal notices insisting that the prefix holders pay renewal fees and agree to the new terms and conditions.

Ultimately a class action suit was levied against the GS1 in the state of Washington and the GS1 lost. All prefix owners prior to August 28, 2002 became exempt to the GS1’s renewal fees and new codified agreement.

Quoting the UCC Settlement web site:

This Settlement provides that companies who became members of UCC before August 28, 2002, are not obligated to pay membership renewal fees to UCC to maintain membership as a condition for their use of Company Prefixes issued to them by UCC, or as a condition for Basic Membership Benefits as defined in the Class Settlement Agreement. Class members who have paid a renewal fee to UCC are entitled to compensation from a $3,895,000 settlement fund. The settlement also provides that the “licensing agreement,” which accompanied UCC renewal fee invoices, is null and void as to those who became members in UCC before August 28, 2002. **

Quoting George Laurer, “Often I am asked if a person that purchases a number from a subset seller will have legal problems in the future. Again, I am not a lawyer, but if the number was originally assigned to the seller by the UCC before August 2002, the answer is no problem.”**** Nationwide Barcode is one of the companies deemed legitimate by George Laurer.

The decision to go with the GS1 or Nationwide Barcode (or a company similar to Nationwide Barcode) is a matter of economies of scale. GS1 charges an upfront fee and a yearly renewal fee based upon the number of 12-digit barcode numbers that you need along with your company’s revenue. The more you make, the more the barcode prefix will cost you, and this amount can increase over time. We believe that the GS1 is a great organization, they provide a tremendous service, however, for a small business with a limited budget, a Barcode Subdividing company makes the most sense.

* Text provided by Wikipedia and is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License. ** *** (page on George Laurer’s website) **** (George Laurer’s site)