GTIN vs UPC barcodes. What’s Different?

What you’ll learn

  • What is GTIN?
  • What are the types of GTIN?
  • How can GTIN be used as an Amazon seller

Are there significant differences between GTIN vs UPC barcodes?

The shocker is there are no technical differences between GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) and UPC code (Universal Product Code).

They are the same. Since UPC is the barcode that contains the Global Trade Item Number information.

The same is true for ISBN and EAN.

This is because a GTIN is the barcode number encoded into a UPC, EAN, or ISBN barcode.

Let’s find out why.

gtin vs upc

GTIN vs UPC – What is GTIN?

gtin vs upc barcode

The GTIN is merely a catch-all word for many GS1 numbering string kinds. The UPC is an existing variant of the GTIN for businesses all around the world.

A series of GS1 (EAN.UCC) global data structures using 14 digits that can be encoded into several kinds of data carriers are specified by the Global Trade Item Number.

GTIN is a number used in bar code

The GTIN is the number, and the UPC or EAN (codes) is the kind of barcode image that contains the GTIN.

As a product or brand owner, you should know that the GTIN numbers will appear using a barcode scanner.

GTINs are used by retailers to streamline and automate the inventory management process. GTIN will uniquely identify products.

That includes ensuring that the consumer is charged the correct amount of money.

Types of GTIN & their uses

There are a few types of GTINs a product or brand owner should be aware of:

  • An 8-digit number known as GTIN-8 (EAN/UCC-8) is primarily utilized outside of North America to uniquely identify products.
  • GTIN-12: Also known as the UPC-12. The 12-digit number known as the UPC number, or universal product code, is shown via a UPC barcode. Used both in the US and Canada.
  • EAN-13 or GTIN-13 are EANs used outside of the US and Canada.
  • GTIN-14: Codes for shipping containers.

GTIN – When is it used?

GTIN vs UPC formats
source: barcode.graphic

All goods employ GTINs or Global Trade Item Number (Universal Product Code and EAN barcodes) as an identifier for trade items.

What is the difference between UPC and EAN? A UPC (or EAN) barcode will be used to identify your product whether you are selling a DVD, apparel, food, hardware, electronics, accessories, or any other kind of product.

The only things that don’t utilize UPC (or EAN) barcodes are pharmaceuticals, variable weight products (poultry, meat, fish, fruits and vegetables). So as you can see, there’s no real major difference between EAN and UPC.

Books also don’t have to use UPC.

Books use ISBNs, but you can add a UPC to the book in addition to the ISBN.

UPC prevents data conflict because it’s there to identify that the product has a unique GTIN.

For instance, the UPC you purchased matches a brand of mobile phone and you are selling perishable goods.

Amazon will not accept that. So don’t bother going around looking for the best place to buy UPC codes.

Amazon makes sure to regulate the codes used so that each product is distinct. Sellers should use codes that perfectly match their brands to reduce confusion among buyers.

What is a new GTIN?

Different GTINs are frequently required for each variant of each product line by businesses.

Different GTIN numbers are needed to distinguish between varying product kinds, such as when things have different quantities or colors.

The management standard for GTINs is a set of regulations found in the GS 1 standard.

It helps brands in knowing the particular conditions under which the fresh GTIN ought to be provided.

This standard acts as a guide in maintaining uniform trade item identification and control.

How can GTIN be used as an Amazon seller?

A GTIN, a product identifier code contained within a UPC barcode, is needed to sell products in stores or on an online marketplace like Amazon.

These product identification codes also guarantee that your product is unique. Which helps in inventory management.

Retailers can prevent data conflicts, catalog mix-ups, and other issues by effectively labeling and organizing products with the right identifier.

More than 25 Amazon product categories demand product identification.

In general, Amazon demands that every sellable product, including bundles or multi-packs have their unique GTIN. Here are Amazon guidelines for multi-packs and bundles.

The easiest way is to use Amazon’s FNSKU CODE-128 format as UPC is unique to the product, but not the seller.

As a seller, you want to ensure that the product you sell is identified. That’s where the FNSKU system comes in.

Where to buy GTIN

where to buy gtin online

Unfortunately, Amazon UPC codes, EAN, or ISBN bar code cannot be produced by randomly combining random digits. Doing so prevents proper UPC GTIN lookup.

The good news is that registering your business and obtaining GTIN numbers don’t take very long. All you have to do to obtain a company prefix is go to GS1 US or GS1 UK.

Make sure you get your GTIN from a trusted vendor.

To avoid receiving GTINs that are no longer valid, buy them directly from GS1 as it will be connected to your business name. These are legitimate places to purchase UPC codes or buy UPC codes from.

If you buy GTINs from ebay or other websites, it is associated with another company. There could be a day where Amazon says the barcode does not match your company name. In that case, you will not be able to list your product.

Remember, Amazon might prevent or delist your product listings if you use invalid GTINs.

Where NOT to buy it from

In my research, buying outside of GS1 US or GS1 UK is not ideal. So don’t go around scrounging for UPC codes, cheap UPC codes, unofficial websites selling UPC codes, or buying UPC codes from “shady” sources.

Other companies sell both barcodes and the GTIN.

Retailers request from these businesses to provide genuine identification numbers that connect a brand to the specific goods sold.

Using pre-made barcodes or GTINs could result in your product being marked with the identifying number of another business.

This is frequently a temporary solution that will eventually cause retailers to become confused, incur additional fees for relabeling, and bring down business growth.

Small businesses or large businesses?

The best choice for small businesses could be to license individual GS1 US GTINs for $30 each. This brand-new service was introduced in November 2020.

It was created in response to comments from members who want more adaptable alternatives for product identification.

Another choice for bigger companies launching ten or more products or product variants is to obtain a GS1 Company Prefix.

This enables brands to generate genuine GTINs in bulk amounts such as 10, 100, and other numbers.

A trademark and a product are connected by the prefix, which stands for the first few numbers of the GTIN for the item.

Its value to marketplaces and retailers stems from its capacity to validate authenticity.

Do I need a UPC or barcode to sell on Amazon?

No. A UPC is not required to sell every item on Amazon. Thought you might be able to get a free UPC code for Amazon.

There are a few things you can sell on Amazon without UPCs, despite the fact that most of the products you want to sell there require GS1-generated UPCs or other identifiers.

You can qualify for a GTIN exemption if you sell private-label or handmade goods, which means you do not require a UPC to list the item on Amazon.

Without this exemption, you need to use GTIN. We also often get questions on SKU vs EAN. This will be a topic for a different article.


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