Barcode FAQ

Barcodes in a nutshell?

A GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) most commonly known as a Barcode, is an optical machine readable sequence of unique numbers used by wholesalers and retailers to maintain control over stock inventories and to track product purchases at point of sale. The most common formats of barcodes used are EAN-13 and UPC barcodes.

Why would I require a barcode for my product?

Most retailers today require that all products they sell to display a barcode on the labeling. If you are looking to sell your product in a retail outlet, having a unique barcode assigned to it is highly recommended to aid them in maintaining their pricing, inventory and ordering systems. Displaying a barcode on your product also adds a mark of professionalism that increases your chances of retail outlets agreeing to stock your item.

How many barcodes should I get?

This depends on how many unique products or variants you intend to sell. A unique barcode number is required for each product that you intend to stock in a retailer including variants such as size, colour, flavour etc. For example, if you produce clothing items in a variety of sizes then each variation needs it’s own unique barcode.

What is the difference between EAN-13 and UPC-A numbers?

The EAN-13 (13 digit barcode) is a superset of the UPC-A (12 digit barcode). The only real point of difference is that the EAN-13 (European Article Number) is most widely used by businesses in the UK and Europe and Asia, whereas the UPC-A (Universal Product Code) is mainly used by American and Canadian companies. If your primary market is the UK we would suggest using the EAN-13, but since 2005 the vast majority of scanners read both interchangeably. So it is possible to use either format and they will work in any country worldwide.

How do barcodes get assigned to products?

A barcode is a simple unique identifier. Registration of product information such as price, size flavour ect is handled on the retailers side before they begin selling your product. Upon supplying your products to a retail outlet you may be required to complete a form detailing each individual product’s information including your company name, the product details and the assigned barcode number. The retailer will add this information to their inventory database so when the product is scanned at point of sale or during stocktake, the information is retrieved from their system.

What products require a barcode? Do your codes cover all products?

Whether it’s a music CD by an independent band or musician, commercialised arts/craft products, independently produced food products, pet supplies or health and beauty items, any and all goods that you wish to be sold in third party retail outlets should have a uniquely identifiable barcode assigned to them and printed on the packaging. The barcodes we supply are suitable for all retail items with the exception of books and magazines which require special ISBN and ISSN codes and Pharmaceuticals which require Pharmacodes.

Will my barcode be accepted by all UK retailers?

All of the barcodes sold by Barcode Bird are unique UCC (now GS1) originated codes and are generally accepted by the majority of retailers in the United Kingdom. It is advisable though to contact retailers before purchase and enquire about their specific policies regarding barcode labeling.

What’s the benefit of purchasing with Barcode Bird?

For the majority of sole traders, small businesses and independent producers, the massive costs of first registering with GS1 UK, purchasing barcodes and paying ongoing annual fees is prohibitively expensive, even if you only purchase one barcode. Instead of charging our customers hundreds of pounds, Barcode Bird offers our customers unique GS1 originated barcodes at a competitive price. Our barcodes are genuine and authentic, offering you many of the advantages without having to pay membership fees, hidden costs or annual subscriptions.

Does my barcode “store” information about my product?

A barcode only encodes the numbers shown below the vertical black and white bars. Barcodes themselves do not hold information, they’re simply a globally unique identifier that’s recorded in a retailer’s sales/inventory system and assigned to your product. So once you incorporate your barcode into your product artwork, labels, begin assigning them in a physical store or online listing the barcode number has already begun doing its job of representing your product in the supply chain.

Are your barcodes globally unique?

Yes. Every barcode provided by Barcode Bird is 100% unique, UCC/GS1 issued and comes with an authenticity certificate. Whatever product you choose to assign your barcodes to it is then linked to that item. Barcode Bird employs a sophisticated stock automation system to ensure that a barcode number is never issued to more than one customer. Once you purchase from us the barcode belongs to you forever.

Are your barcodes accepted by

There are many sellers on Amazon continue to use re-seller barcodes like ours to list products successfully on, and other international Amazon tlds.  However, we do not guarantee that the barcodes we supply will always be accepted on Amazon.  This is because Amazon may use GS1’s GEPIR as one of several potential methods of brand verification. For more information regarding known limitations with using GTINs on Amazon’s platform see our Using Barcodes on Amazon page.

Can Barcode Bird register my company or product information on GS1’s GEPIR?

No. There are no barcode re-sellers who can register company data on GS1’s GEPIR.  Once UCC/GS1 issued barcodes are on-sold, GS1 no longer manages the numbers.  GS1 therefore does not update their GEPIR records beyond the first holder.  Additionally product information does not appear on GEPIR and this database is not integrated with any retail stores. GS1 will only place company details on GEPIR for the first holder of a prefix.  The only way to have your company information appear on GEPIR is to sign up to GS1 and pay annual fees to GS1.

Barcode Bird ensures that the UCC/GS1 origin barcodes we sell are globally unique and have not been assigned to a product prior to being sold.  It is also up to product owners to keep track of their assigned barcodes and avoid duplicate assignments.

As an alternative to GEPIR we suggest registering your product and company data on This is an optional free and open database that will help raise the on-line profile of your product data (Google quickly indexes the entries).  Any smartphone app that uses Google to serve results should show your details after they are indexed by Google (after a period of a few days).

Can my barcode ever expire?

No. Once purchased, barcodes from Barcode Bird are yours for life without requiring annual license fees or risk of expiration. All the barcode numbers we supply were first issued by the Uniform Code Council (now GS1) prior to the GS1 subscription model. They are not subject to GS1 annual license fees and are valid in perpetuity.

Ok I want a barcode, how to get my hands on one?

That’s the easy part! Head to the purchasing page, select your barcodes and begin! Once your purchase is finalised your barcode package will be emailed instantly to your nominated email address used to make the purchase.