060 Package/Label Design Elements

UPC-A barcode imageImage via Wikipedia

UPC Bar Codes

Assignment of UPC codes are coordinated by GS1 (http://gs1.org/barcodes/need_a_bar_code). Obtaining a Universal Product Code (i.e. UPC barcode) is a two step process:

1) Apply for membership with the GS1 US (formerly Uniform Code Council) to obtain a registered prefix that identifies you as product manufacturer and to reserve a range of suffix numbers that you will assign to your various products; and
2) Secure a method to print the UPC as part of your label design.

GS1 US is the sole organization that maintains the standard usages for the UPC as part of the global standard of information and data exchange. Your application to GS1 US will secure a unique prefix portion of the UPC for your company and reserve 100 continuous product suffix numbers into the future. At that point you can then purchase additional prefixes to reserve more product numbers.

There are various UPC brokers that will sell you a single UPC number, but I would beware of the following:
(A) brokers may offer as their primary service may printing or data collection (or something else) and not actually UPC maintenance, and
(B) brokers may be leave you responsible for GS1 membership and subscription fees at the time of your annual renewal.

Also when using a broker you get only one number and have to purchase additional single numbers for each product. In using UPC numbers in a grocer’s database you will need different numbers for each item, flavor, size, etc. and you may be required to place a UPC number on secondary (or case) packaging with different UPC numbers for each different case size.

My recommendation is that you secure UPC registration by application with GS1 US (see http://barcodes.gs1us.org) and work with someone who can produce a high resolution jpeg graphic of the UPC that can be used in your label design and printing.

The GS1 US application approach will cost more initially than purchasing bar codes one at a time from a broker, but in the end it could save you time and money.

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Other Links

  • GS1 Manufacturer Prefix Database
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