Step 2: License Your UPC Company Prefix
The first, and most important, step in obtaining a UPC barcode for your product is to apply for membership and license a UPC Company prefix from GS1. Whereas Bar Code Graphics is the authority for barcoding and UPC implementation, GS1 is the global standards organization that administers Company Prefixes and GTINs. A UPC Company Prefix identifies your company as the manufacturer throughout the entire supply-chain. The length of the prefix (and price) is dependent on the number of unique items that require UPC identification.
The numeric length of a UPC Company Prefix can vary between 6 – 10 digits, depending on the number of products a company needs to identify. A small company, who only needs to identify a total of 10 product variations, would receive a 10-digit number. The licensing membership fee is primarily based on the number of products that require identification.
SPECIAL SMALL COMPANY EXCEPTION – To accommodate companies that only need a few (1-9) UPCs for product identification, individual GTINs are now available. These single UPCs do not have separate Company Prefix, BUT the brand owner will be designated in the GS1 Global Registry. To learn more, please visit https://www.barcode.graphics/gs1-us-gtin-upc-barcodes/.
Important: There are unaffiliated companies on the internet who prey on unsuspecting new companies and solicit individual UPC barcodes for discounted $3 rates. Many of these companies are fraudulent and use shared UPC Company Prefixes. Most retailers will not accept their numbers and Amazon now has a policy warning suppliers to license their own UPC Prefix.
The UPC/GTIN management and barcode creation is very challenging for new companies. The comprehensive GS1 Barcode Service facilitates the entire process to easily manage GTIN/UPC information and create barcodes. At the end of this simple tutorial, you will be brought to the GS1 Barcode Service pages which lets you initiate the entire process.