What is a barcode label/ UPC code anyway? A barcode label or UPC symbol appears as alternating black vertical bars with white spaces. The numbers at the bottom of the symbol (called the human readable) represents the data encoded in the symbol. The numbers are made “machine readable” (able to be read by the barcode scanner) by representing the numbers by groups of different thickness bars and spaces. Special sets of bars provide start and stop signals to tell a barcode scanner where it is reading within the code.


In the case of Universal Product Code or U.P.C. (the barcode you see on all of your grocery items) the data encoded in the bars and spaces is put together in a very specific way. There are three elements to this “data string”; a company prefix, an item reference and a check digit. The company prefix (called a U.P.C. Company Prefix when being used to build a U.P.C.) is assigned to your company by GS1 US - each company prefix is unique, completely different and is associated with a brand owner as this helps ensure your product’s bar code is not confused with another company’s product. 


Your first step is to complete an application for the GS1 US Partner Connections membership program. Your membership provides you with essential supply chain tools and exclusive resources, including a unique GS1 Company Prefix and a U.P.C. Company Prefix that can be used to create Universal Product Code (U.P.C.) bar codes Without an approved UPC code, not only is your product not legally registered, but a retailers barcode scanner will not read an un-authentic code either.

What that means, is, if you would like to be able to sell to nationwide or even worldwide, you need to have a universally recognized UPC code. Without one, your product is simply not reaching the consumer market to its fullest potential, which in turn means that you are not maximizing your profits.


When setting up UPC codes for your company, GS1 US will help guide you through the process to get your company connected to the marketplace. With step-by-step guides, instructions, F.A.Q’s and more, GS1 US has everything you need to begin making barcode labels for your products.


GS1 US offers fully intergraded management of your UPC codes online as well, with exclusive tools to help you stay up to date and in touch with all of your customers and manufacturers


Set your company up today with GS1 US’s barcode labels and UPC codes, and watch your business sales flourish in retail markets everywhere.

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Posted in Information By

Tommy Schweller