A barcode (or bar code) is a unique sequence of digits that helps shops keep track of all product sales. The two most common retail barcodes are the 13-digit EAN barcode (European Standard) and the 12-digit UPC barcode (American Standard). The barcode number can be converted into a scannable barcode image (vertical black bars and spaces of different thicknesses). When the barcode image is scanned, the barcode number and product details will appear on the retailer’s computer screen.
The UPC barcoding system was developed in the USA in the 1970s by George Laurer. The food industries first used this system but soon expanded into other industries as well. Today, the UPC system is used worldwide to track products.
EAN numbers are European format barcodes (which are based on American UPCs). EAN-13 barcodes are 13 digits long and are the most common type of retail barcode in the UK and Europe (and worldwide). They are suitable for use on any retail product and can be decoded by almost every scanning machine. The barcodes we supply are in the EAN-13 format (if you prefer the UPC format instead, that is fine – we can provide that – just let us know when making your order).
It is becoming increasingly common these days for retailers to use a barcoding system to keep track of products. Because of this, we strongly recommend that you get barcodes for your products. Barcodes help retailers to keep track of the items on their shelves and to know when they need to re-order more of a particular item.
If you purchase a barcode package from our company, you will receive your barcode by email (in five different formats: jpeg, png, SVG & pdf). You can then forward the email to your printer or designer so that they can incorporate the barcode into your product label or packaging (if you don’t have a printer or designer, you can do this yourself – just choose the image format you prefer, e.g. jpeg, and get the barcode printed onto your labels/packaging).
Alternatively, our company can also provide you with printed adhesive barcode labels that you can just stick onto your product (you can order sticky barcode labels here).
You will usually need a unique barcode number for each product and product variation (size, colour etc.). For example, if you sold a teddy bear in two different sizes (small and medium) and two different colours (yellow and green), you would get four different barcode numbers.
The barcodes that we sell are completely compatible with all barcode systems in retail stores in the UK, Europe, and worldwide. We have sold thousands of barcodes to customers in the UK and Europe over the last 7 years and have never had a problem with our barcodes being rejected by a retail store. If you are planning to export your products overseas, then there are a few restrictions that you need to be aware of. If you are exporting your products to the USA, please note that Kroger’s and Wal-mart require you to be a member of GS1* and get your barcodes directly from their company. Likewise, if you are exporting your products to Australia or New Zealand, Woolworths Australia & Super Retail Group have specific requirements that effectively mean that you must be a member of GS1 and get your barcodes from them. Therefore, these four retail stores (in the USA, New Zealand & Australia) have specific barcode requirements that mean you must be a member of a global standards body (GS1) and get your barcodes from them. Other than those four exceptions, we have had no problems with our barcodes being accepted by retailers worldwide.
Yes, our barcodes are suitable for use in absolutely any country in the world (as long as it has a barcode system). Our barcodes are currently being used worldwide – including in the UK and Europe (Germany, Spain, France, Greece etc.), Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Australasia, and the Pacific Islands.
Yes, our barcodes were issued by an official barcode body (UCC – now renamed GS1-US*). Our barcodes were originally issued in bulk by UCC to a company in the US. This company didn’t need all of their barcodes, so they sold a bulk lot of unassigned barcode numbers to our company. We now issue these barcode numbers to our customers. Because our barcodes originally came from the official barcode body, they are unique, authentic numbers that legally belong to our company (when our customers order barcodes from us, we pass complete ownership of the barcodes onto them).
Yes. Because the official barcode body issued our barcodes (UCC, now called GS1-US*), they are authentic numbers that are legal for use anywhere in the United Kingdom or Europe. They can also be legally used anywhere else in the world. We guarantee that the barcodes we sell are unique worldwide and that nobody else is legally allowed to use them.
Our company has been selling barcodes for the last 7 years and we have thousands of customers in the UK. We have never had a problem with any retail store in the UK (or Europe) refusing to accept our barcodes for any reason. However, we are unable to guarantee that every retailer will accept our barcodes (no barcode company can give that sort of guarantee) because there is no way for us to know what particular barcoding requirements individual retailers might choose to have. You will have to contact your retailers first to find out if they have any particular barcoding requirements. Please read our Terms and Conditions before purchasing barcodes from us. Check out our barcode acceptance page for the latest details on this.
No, our barcodes will not contain your company prefix. However, this isn’t important. 99.8% of retailers don’t care whether or not your barcodes contain your company prefix. The only way you can get barcodes that have your company prefix at the start of them is to join a Global Standards Body* and pay their exorbitant annual membership fees.
A barcode number does not contain any product information. It is simply a unique number. When you receive your barcode numbers, you can assign them to whichever products you want to. When your retailer receives your product, they will enter your barcode number & product information into their system to connect your barcode to your product.
You can order a barcode from us on our Barcode Shop page and pay either by credit card or by PayPal. Enter any instructions/requirements into the “additional information” section of the checkout form. If you prefer to pay by direct deposit (or an alternative method), please email us for instructions. Many of our orders are processed automatically. Hence, if you order a barcode package, you will receive it straight away. Other more complicated orders generally take anywhere from 1-12 hours, depending on the time of the order. On very rare occasions, it can take a little longer to process orders – if your order is urgent, please let us know, and we will get to it as soon as we can. If you require your barcode urgently, please email us.
After we receive your order & payment, we will send your barcode to you via email. You can then assign it to your product and begin using it immediately. When your retailers receive your product, they will enter the barcode number and product information into their system. After that, when they scan your barcode, your product information will appear on their screen.
Yes, you can. The EAN-13 barcodes that we supply can be used in any country in the world. We have customers using our barcodes throughout Europe and Asia, Africa, Australasia, the Middle East, and the Pacific Islands. If you want your barcodes in UPC-12 format (instead of EAN-13 format), that is fine, just let us know when making your order. EAN is the European Standard for barcodes (and is the most common type of barcode worldwide). UPC is the American Standard for barcodes.
Our company is the best place to buy barcodes because:
1. Our prices are affordable (and a one-off cost);
2. We don’t charge any ongoing membership fees;
3. You will become the legal owner of the barcodes we give you (we don’t merely sell you a ‘license’ to use barcode numbers for a certain period of time);
4. Our barcodes are accepted by more retailers in the UK (and worldwide) than the barcodes from any other barcode reseller; and
5. We offer exceptional customer support; and
6. Our team has many years of experience supplying barcodes to customers in the UK & Europe
Yes, the barcode number you receive will be unique. All of our barcode numbers were originally issued by UCC (now called GS1-US*). This is the Global Standards Body for barcode numbers – therefore, you can be sure that the barcode number you receive will be unique worldwide. Our Guarantee Certificate states that we will not allocate your barcode number to any other person or company. This is supported by a written guarantee given to us by the US company we bought our barcode numbers from – their guarantee states that they will not issue our barcode numbers to any other person or company. The US company that supplies our barcode numbers to us is recommended by the creator of the barcoding system (UPC barcodes), George J. Laurer.
Yes, once we have assigned your barcode number to you, you can use it for life – your barcode will never expire, and we will never charge you any future ongoing fees. We don’t merely sell a ‘license’ to use our barcodes for a certain period of time (like some barcode sellers do). We transfer the actual ownership of the barcodes to our customers. Once you receive your barcodes from us, you can assign them to your products and begin using them immediately – you will have complete control over how to use your barcode numbers.
No, you will never have to pay any future fees (all of our prices are one-off, we do not charge annual renewal or membership fees). Our barcodes originally come from UCC* (now known as GS1-US). Back in the 1990s, UCC started allocating barcode numbers to companies in the USA. Ownership of the barcodes was transferred from GS1 to the individual companies. It was only later that the GS1 company decided to retain ownership of their remaining barcode numbers by merely selling ‘licenses’ to companies (the licenses gave the companies the right to use their barcodes for a certain period of time). Effectively, GS1 started charging annual membership fees to companies for the right to continue to use their barcode numbers. The barcodes came from the original block of barcode numbers that GS1 gave away to companies in the USA (before they started charging membership fees). For this reason, our company can own our barcode numbers completely – without having to pay ongoing membership fees to a Global Standards Body. This benefit is passed on to our customers – we will never charge any membership fees for the barcodes we sell. All of our barcodes are available for a one-off purchase price, and there are no future fees.
The standard barcode size is about 38mm x 25mm (with a magnification range of 200% – 80%). The smallest recommended barcode size is about 30mm x 20mm. We do not recommend reducing the width of your barcode to less than 30mm (because this would make it very difficult for barcode scanners to read it). Please have a look at the official standards for barcode size.
No, the barcode you buy will not be registered in any Central Database. However, with our barcode packages, we include barcode registration. This means that we will register your barcode on the major internet databases available. After you receive your barcode, you can begin using it immediately. If you have not purchased a barcode package but want to get a barcode registered, you can see about doing that here.
A few decades ago, some businesses in North America were assigned some unique manufacturer ID numbers. These numbers became their property. More recently (in the 2000s), GS1-US* – previously known as UCC – began stating that all the manufacture IDs that they had previously given away were actually the property of GS1-US. GS1-US started to charge the manufacturers (and other businesses using their barcodes) annual fees for the license to continue using their numbers.
Some of the manufacturers took UCC to Court because of this. They settled out of Court (the manufacturers received a multimillion-dollar settlement). An agreement under the settlement was that any company that had paid a membership fee to UCC before 28/08/2002 could now have free ongoing membership of UCC (ie. They would not have to pay any future annual fees). These manufacturers could also continue to use their UCC-assigned company prefixes.
Our company’s barcodes came from one of these companies (in the settlement). For this reason, we can supply you with a single bar code number (or with a larger group of numbers) for a single affordable price (we do not charge any ongoing fees).
The inventor of the UPC barcode system was George Joseph Laurer (born in 1925, New York). He designed the UPC (Universal Product Code) in the early 1970s. Visit his website http://www.laurerupc.com. He offers a lot of information about the barcode system on his website and shows his distaste for the steeply-priced fees that GS1-US charges. Our barcode numbers are sourced from a company that Mr Laurer recommends.
We were trying to get a barcode for a product that we were developing through one of our other companies (an educational card game). It turned out to be a lot more difficult to get a barcode than we had imagined! We were told that we’d have to buy a large number of barcode numbers (even though we only needed one), that we’d have to get the scannable barcode images for them somewhere else, and that we’d have to pay expensive annual fees for the ‘license’ to use these numbers each year. This was much more than we could afford as a small business, so we began the complicated road of exploring alternative barcoding options. We found out that there was a way to get legal barcodes without joining a Global Standards Body* & paying annual fees. This is why we formed Barcode1 UK (Barcodes Limited) – we wanted to share what we had discovered with other small businesses and make it easier and more affordable for them to get barcodes!
Most barcodes are printed in black on white, but this is not compulsory – some other colour combinations are acceptable. You can print your barcode in other colours if you choose to, but please read our Barcode Colour Guide PDF first and make sure that there is a good degree of contrast between the vertical bars and the spaces, and thoroughly test your barcode (with scanning machines) before using it.
Barcode registration can be complex. There are many different internet databases of registered barcodes – with barcode numbers and product information. We can register a barcode for you – either one of our barcode numbers or a barcode number you have purchased elsewhere. Please see Barcode Registration for more information about how we can register a barcode for you.
Books need an ISBN. You need to get one of these numbers assigned to your publication (Please see here for details on obtaining an ISBN), and then come back to us andorder the barcode images for your number online. We will then email your barcode images to you & you can start using them in your book.
Magazines need an ISSN number. You need to get one of these numbers assigned to your publication (please see Magazine Barcodes for info on obtaining an ISSN), and then come back to us and order the barcode images for your number online. We will then email your barcode images to you & you can start using them in your magazine.
Both UPC-A Numbers and EAN-13 numbers are used as retail barcodes for scanning at the checkout to obtain the price and other product information. The main differences between them are that UPC-A Barcodes only have 12 digits and EAN-13 barcodes have 13 digits. Furthermore, the displacement of the numbers below the barcodes differs.
Both versions are designed for international use and can, therefore, in theory, be used throughout the world. However, UPC-A Barcodes are far more common in the USA, and EAN-13 Barcodes are far more common everywhere else. This means that some retailers may be unfamiliar with one format or have their system set up not to accept 13- digit or 12-digit numbers. Regardless of this, either format can be used.
As shown in the image below, the actual bars of the UPC-A format barcode and the EAN-13 format barcode (with a leading ‘0’) are identical. This means that they will scan in the same way regardless of which country they are in. If a retailer’s system does not allow 13 digit numbers, the leading ‘0’ can be ignored when typing the number into the system and, the barcode will work in the same way as if it were a UPC-A format barcode. Similarly, if 13 digits are required, a ‘0’ can be added to the beginning of the UPC-A barcode to turn it into an EAN-13. Either way round, the barcode will be globally unique and legal for use internationally.
Our barcodes begin with a ’07’. This means that the barcodes themselves originally come from the USA. However, this says nothing about the origin of the products themselves. Products from any country can use barcodes from the USA and vice versa.
Yes – you can definitely buy a barcode online from us – in fact, that is the best way to buy a barcode. Our automated system will automatically email EAN13 retail barcode number(s) and images to you within minutes.
Worldwide barcodes – Can’t find an answer to your question? Contact us – we are more than happy to help.
“Hi David, Thank you for your email and the attachments. Wow, what a fantastic and fast service. Highly appreciated. I have forwarded my barcode to manufacturer. I will have a look the registration link later. Once again, thank you for the fast service.” Jameson J (MYJ London)