Step One: Apply for a GS1 Company Prefix
The first, and most important, step in obtaining a UPC bar code for your product is to apply for membership and receive a GS1 Company prefix from GS1. Your company prefix is a unique string of digits assigned to your company, identifying you as the manufacturer throughout the entire product supply-chain.
The number of digits in a Company Prefix can vary between 6 – 10 characters, depending on the number of products a manufacturer needs to identify. A small company, who only needs to identify a single product, would receive a 10-digit number. The membership fee for GS1 is primarily based on the number of products which require identification. BIG NEWS – As of October 2013, GS1 US dramatically reduced their pricing for small companies.
Please be advised that there are third-party companies on the internet who offer to sell single UPC bar codes for discount $5 rates. Most of the main retailers will not accept their numbers and there are many online websites preying on unsuspecting new companies. Quite SIMPLY, buying “upc barcodes” from any organization other than GS1 US puts you at risk for acceptance by retailers (even Amazon). There may be smaller retailers and online marketplaces which do not require a unique GS1 Company Prefix. However, if you plan on someday selling to any larger retailer in the future, you do not want to have your products marked with UPC barcodes which may not be accepted. Proper product identification is important!
Call 800-662-0701 x250 for assistance.
Comment about GS1 Membership and their Application ProcessThe GS1 US online application and GTIN management can be very challenging for some, since there are many acronyms and references which might not be familiar to many new companies. In addition, the application does not adequately convey all the benefits provided by GS1 membership to help justify the costs:
- Continued use of a Company Prefix
- Data Hub Tool – GS1 US provides tool utility to manage/coordinate items.
- Automatic listing of Company Prefix in the GS1 Data Hub directory, a business resource provided to retailers and distributors. Companies, such as Kroger, Amazon, Macys and many others use this tool every time a new product is entered in their system.
- Free access to the latest bar coding and electronic commerce standards and guidelines through the online GS1 Solutions Center® to help you conduct business more efficiently and productively.