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Where to obtain UPC codes

The UPC codes is a 12-digit number that is located under the barcode of any point of sale product. A Universal Product Code (UPC) is a unique code assigned to a product by the nonprofit organization Global Standard 1 (GS1). It is used to track inventory and identify local sellers. During a sale, the UPC is scanned underneath the barcode.

You can obtain your unique UPC code by following these steps:

1. Count the products that need UPC codes.

You should create a different UPC for each product according to its size, volume, flavor, etc. The reason for this is that the red pants, the green pants, and the blue pants come in small, medium, and large sizes, so you will need 3 UPCs for red pants, 3 UPCs for green pants, and 3 UPCs for blue pants.

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Ascertain the number of Item Reference Numbers (IRNs) that you will need and the extent to which your highest IRN will have digits by taking inventory of all the items with UPCs. The number of digits in your highest IRN determines part of your 12-digit UPC.

You can calculate the number of digits your company should have by subtracting the number of IRN digits from 11. Calculated mathematically from the other numbers, your UPC will have the twelfth digit as the check digit.

In the case of 9,145 products requiring UPCs, you will have the highest IRN of 9145. So your company prefix consists of 7 numbers (11 – 4).

2. Join GS1 US to receive your GS1 company prefix.

There is only one legitimate manufacturer of UPC codes, and that is GS1. UPC codes are made by GS1 US for American businesses. As a member of the association, you’ll automatically obtain a prefix, which is the unique digits that identify your company as a provider of products.

Your company prefix and membership fee will be determined by the number of UPCs you need. For more information, refer to our pricing guide.

GS1 US’s online application can be used to apply for membership or company prefixes. For online payments, you must complete your company information and prefix pricing plan first.

3. Number each product uniquely.

You will have a unique product number for each of your products. Your IRN will determine the number of characters.

As shown above, a large number of products can be assigned product numbers. Start with 0001 and work your way up to 9145 if you have 9,145 products. As a result, 11 of the 12 digits in the UPC will be unique product numbers plus your company prefixes.

GS1’s free check digit calculator can be used to calculate the twelfth digit for each IRN manually. Furthermore, if your product range is extensive, it can be difficult to track all the IRNs. As part of your membership, you will have access to GS1 Data Hub where you can create, track, and check your IRNs.

4. Select the barcode design.

The most common barcode is a vertical black stripe on a white background, but it is also possible to use blue stripes on a yellow or red background. Choose a color that works well for your product.

5. Select the display method for the barcode.

You can order digital barcodes that can be embedded directly into the design of labels and packaging if you have not yet done so. 

It is important to place digital barcodes on packaging or labels in an area that is flat and wrinkle-free for easy scanning. Ensure that the barcode size is correct as well, as changing it can affect scanning. Digital barcodes are usually found in the lower right corner of packaging.

If you have already printed your products’ packaging or labels, you can print barcodes on adhesive labels and apply them physically. The best way to label your products is to place barcode labels at the same location on all of them.

6. Purchase the UPC barcodes.

GS1 offers digital barcodes with unique UPCs on their website. With Adobe Photoshop, you can add UPC barcodes to your label or packaging design if you receive them in (eps.) format.

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GS1’s website allows you to order a physical barcode containing your UPC. The barcodes will be printed on adhesive labels that you can apply physically to your products.

Prices for UPC barcodes range from $400.00 to $13,000.00 per batch, depending on the number of UPCs you order. You have to pay a membership fee as well.

7. Ensure that the labels have barcodes.

Following the purchase of the barcodes and including them in your packaging, you will want to test the printed barcodes and ensure that they will scan correctly. You can either use a certified barcode verification service or purchase your own barcode verification equipment from GS1.

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