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Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Last updated: 25 February 2020

Here you'll find answers to our most common questions. This area is regularly updated, and the questions below are organised in the order of popularity. If your question isn't here, then contact us or place your question in the pop up that will appear on the bottom right of your screen.

How does your pricing model work?

As a not-for-profit organisation, we believe that the fairest fee structure is one based on turnover. This means that larger businesses pay more than smaller or new businesses to support the ongoing development and maintenance of GS1. So, if you're a new or small business, you're paying our lowest fees. See our membership benefits page for further details on pricing or you can calculate your membership to determine how many barcodes you will need.

How do I get just one number?

At the moment, this is not possible, except for specific cases of small music or charity organisations. We are reviewing our membership model to keep pace with the changing needs of our members. As a minimum, we provide 1,000 barcode numbers for £119. Use our online calculator to help determine the cost of your membership and how many GTIN's (barcodes) you will need.

Calculate your membership

Am I just paying for a bunch of random numbers?

GTINs are not "random numbers" – they are made up of four elements:

  • The GS1 country that issued the number
  • A unique identifier for the company that licences the number
  • A unique product identifier
  • A check digit to ensure integrity

Find out more about the numbers behind GTIN's (barcodes)

What’s the difference between a barcode from GS1 and others I see online?

You've more than likely seen other websites offering barcodes (GTIN's) at a cheap one-off rate. The problem with these barcodes, are:

  • They've been previously owned by others and essentially their 'DNA' is still associated with these original purchasers of the barcodes
  • Using them will ensure you will be limited to where you can sell your products with the likes of Amazon and major retailers not accepting them
  • When you scan them other product information, other than your own will be shown

The only way to ensure your barcodes are your own, and not pre-brought is to get them from GS1. The added benefits will be:

  • You will be able to use them globally, not just in the UK
  • You will be provided with a minimum of 1,000 barcode numbers
  • You will be able to manage your list of numbers in our login area
  • You will have access to training, webinars and selected events
  • You will be have access to our community partners who will help with your business growth
  • Free support online and over the phone with our support team

Why not calculate your membership today using our online calculator to discover how much it will be to join us.

Calculate your membership

How do I know if my GTIN/ barcode is associated with my product?

We have a global registry that shows the registered owner of any GTIN. It’s called the Global Electronic Party Information Registry – or GEPIR for short! This data is used by marketplaces to validate a GTIN and to connect products to the brand owner.

How do i calculate the cost of my membership?

You can use our online calculator to determine the cost of your membership, as well as how many GTIN's (barcodes) you will need.

Calculate your membership

Can GS1 UK barcodes (GTINs) only be used in the UK?

No, when you join GS1 UK, you will be provided with barcodes that you can use in the UK, as well as globally. As we are a global standards organisation, we ensure our GS1 barcodes work everyhere across the globe. This means that if you are selling in say the US, you won't have to get barcodes for this region. Our barcodes will work anywhere.

What is a GLN and how can I get one?

A GLN, or Global Location Number, is used to identify your business as a legal entity, often via the use of EDI (Electronic Data Interchange). It can also be used to identify different offices, warehouses or even specific shelves within a warehouse. If you’re selling to major retailers they’ll often ask for your GLN. You can create your own GLNs once you’re a member of GS1 UK – from the unique company prefix we licence to you.

What is a GTIN?

A Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) is a number that uniquely identifies a product. You see them beneath the barcodes on almost every product in the world. Which is why they’re often called ‘barcode numbers’. In the UK and Europe they’re usually 13 digits long, in the US 12. You might see shorter 8 digit numbers, used on smaller products. There are even 14 digit versions, to identify cases of products. The same numbers are used to identify products sold online too. The important thing to know is that they are all licensed from GS1 organisations around the world – to guarantee their uniqueness. When you join GS1 UK you can create all the GTINs you need.

What is an EAN?

A European Article Number (EAN) is the name given to the standard barcode image you see on most products sold around the world. It represents the number – or GTIN – you see beneath it. Retailers and marketplaces often ask for ‘EANs’ when you list your products with them. What they are really asking for is the GTIN, or barcode number, which you can create when you join GS1 UK.

What is a UPC?

A Universal Product Code (UPC) is the name given to the standard barcode used on products sold in North America. It represents the number – or GTIN – you see beneath the barcode. These days it’s completely compatible with the EAN barcodes used everywhere else in the world. So if you get asked for a UPC by a retailer or marketplace, they’re really asking for the GTIN, or barcode number, for your product, which you can create when you join GS1 UK.

Who are GS1?

GS1 is a neutral and not-for-profit global organisation, with offices in 112 countries. We were formed by industry, coming together to create a system and common standard for the unique identification of products. Various sectors, from retail, marketplaces and healthcare and search engines too, have requested that their trading partners use GS1 standards, as they see the clear benefit of a single global system of unique product identification.

Who regulates GS1 UK?

As a not-for-profit organisation, GS1 UK is owned by our members, who are in turn represented by a Supervisory Board of elected members. This board is representative of the industries we work in. We are regulated by the board who meet throughout the year, and our Annual General Meeting, which all members are invited to attend.

We also have Advisory Boards made up of members from our major sectors.

Why can't marketplaces pay the membership fees?

By having your own membership with GS1 UK, you manage your own product identifiers (or GTINs) for your brand and business, which you can use to sell through any marketplace and any channel. A marketplace is just one channel. Product owners are responsible for their products and their information, while marketplaces are responsible for providing a platform to present this data and to help sell products. Our members tell it is vital to be able to protect and control how their products are represented online and through all the channels they sell through.

Why do I have to have a new Global Company Prefix (or GCP) when I get a new batch of numbers?

A GTIN usually consists of 13 digits. The first 7 to 9 digits are your Global Company Prefix (GCP) – which you license from GS1. The length of the prefix determines how many numbers you receive – the shorter the GCP, the more numbers you get. The last digit of the GTIN is always a check digit, calculated automatically to ensure integrity. So, the remaining digits in the middle are used to uniquely identify your products – and these form your GTIN range. Once you exhaust the numbers within your current range, it’s impossible to add more numbers beginning with the same prefix. Therefore, a new prefix is issued. You can learn more about the GS1 Company Prefix here.

Why should I pay for GTINs, surely the manufacturer should do this?

We always advise that the brand owner should issue a GTIN against each product they have to ensure it can be traced back to the correct source. If you have outsourced your manufacturing then you are still the ultimate brand owner, so you should allocate the GTINs to your products.

Can I re-use numbers allocated to me?

In retail, GTINs can be re-used four years after the original product is discontinued. Some marketplaces, however, keep a record of all the GTINs ever entered into their catalogue, so in this case re-use would not be possible. As a result, the four-year rule is currently under review, and will shortly be updated. You can read more about managing your GTINs.

Can a product have more than one GTIN?

A product should only ever have one GTIN allocated to it, although a different GTIN may need to be allocated when the product or branding changes. Read more about managing your GTINs and when to allocate a new one.

Why do I have to have a new Global Company Prefix (or GCP) when I get a new batch of numbers?

A GTIN usually consists of 13 digits. The first 7 to 9 digits are your Global Company Prefix (GCP) – which you license from GS1. The length of the prefix determines how many numbers you receive – the shorter the GCP, the more numbers you get. The last digit of the GTIN is always a check digit, calculated automatically to ensure integrity. So, the remaining digits in the middle are used to uniquely identify your products – and these form your GTIN range. Once you exhaust the numbers within your current range, it’s impossible to add more numbers beginning with the same prefix. Therefore, a new prefix is issued. You can learn more about the GS1 Company Prefix here.

How much does membership cost?

Your membership cost depends on your annual turnover, as well as how many barcodes you need. Our prices start from £119 for 1,000 GTIN's (barcodes). You can work out what the cost of your membership is by using our calculator:

Use the GS1 UK calculator

Who polices the use of GTINs?

GS1 license GTINs to brand owners and we work with retailers and marketplaces to validate the correct use of GTINs to ensure the integrity of the system.

Can I buy GS1 numbers and sell them on to other retailers?

GTINs are licensed by GS1, they are never sold. The ownership of the numbers therefore remains with GS1 and the numbers issued to a member cannot be sold to another company. This ensures the ongoing integrity of the system, for the benefit of everyone.

If I have a product in front of me without any visible GTIN, how do I find out what its GTIN is?

The GTIN is always shown beneath the product barcode. If there isn’t one then you can use the product name to search for the GTIN online. If you find a GTIN then you can check if it’s valid using the Global Electronic Party Information Registry – or GEPIR. This will bring up the company and product name if it's a genuine number, as well as the country that issued the number.

I have custom-made products and someone else is selling a similar product and using my GTIN, what can I do?

On Amazon, always make sure you register your branded products on the Amazon brand registry – this gives you control over the listing and will make it easier for you to get incorrectly listed products removed. On other marketplaces you will need to report an infringement and resolve it with them as two different products shouldn't be using the same GTIN. Marketplaces are cleaning their catalogue of these scenarios as it damages customer trust if the wrong product is received. In any other case, contact us and we can investigate further.

I bought GTINs somewhere else, why should I (and can I) update my marketplace listing with GTINs from GS1?

A GTIN should always be traceable back to the brand owner. If you buy a GTIN from a eslewhere (also known as resellers) this will never be the case as the number will either be made up or registered to another company. This means it will never be associated with your brand or product correctly. If you want to sell your products in retail stores, the GTIN will be checked and your products will be rejected as the GTIN will not be registered to you. If you have the product listed in Amazon's brand registry then yes, you can update this. And on eBay, it can be updated at any time too.

Do GTINs on marketplaces really make a difference with search engine traffic?

GS1 cannot control the way marketplaces are set up, how search engine algorithms are written or how SEO works – but we know that product identifiers are used to track products and their data. We also have a new standard – GS1 SmartSearch – that makes it easier for your products to be described online and discovered through search engines. Although there is no silver bullet for SEO that will get you to first place, using product identifiers is a requirement for many marketplaces. It’s about fulfilling as many requirements as possible to ensure the best possible listing on marketplaces and search engines.

Why should I license a GTIN if other retailers can then use it?

If you hold the GTINs for all your products then you are the registered brand and company for all your products. So, when other retailers list your products they can always be traced back to you, as the rightful owner.

I don't want reviews for other sellers appearing against my eBay listings so I don't use GTINs. Am I right to do this?

There are two types of reviews - seller and product. GTINs should only link product reviews and if the review is referencing a seller then you can ask eBay to remove this by clicking on ‘report' (the exclamation mark button), next to the review. Read our article GS1 product identifiers powering eBay's product reviews.

When I join do I received my barcodes or is this seperate?

When you join GS1 UK, you are automatically issued with your barcodes (GTINs). You simply have to assign your product details to each barcode in My Numberbank in your login area. So essentially joining us and getting your barcodes is one in the same.