GS1 General Specifications updated for 2024

Key changes impacting UK businesses.

Barcode image for gen specs update

The GS1 General Specifications is the foundational GS1 standard that defines how identification keys, data attributes and barcodes must be used in business applications. Each year, the specifications are updated* to ensure they continue to meet evolving industry needs and changes to regulations. In January, the new version (version 24.0) was released and offers improved clarity and efficiency for businesses across various sectors. 

Here are some of the key updates that relevant to members and partners:



  • Smoother transition to 2D Barcodes: New rules and guidelines (section 4.15) ensure seamless placement of 2D symbols like QR codes, supporting the shift from traditional linear barcodes
  • Human readable text update: Changes in section 4.14 clarify initial adjustments needed for human-readable text during the transition period and future state of 2D barcodes in retail point-of-sale systems
  • Identifying non-new items: Clearer guidance in section 2.1.15 aids retailers and marketplaces in accurately identifying products that are second hand or refurbished. 

Cross industry

  • Grouped product identification: Section 2.6.13 provides improved language for associating similar products through the Global Model Number (GMN), even if they require distinct Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs). This clarity benefits various industries.
  • Construction industry: Updated rules in section 2.6.13 expand the use of the GMN in construction by allowing its inclusion in barcodes

*GS1 standards are regularly maintained and developed through something called the GS1 Global Standards Management Process (GSMP). These updates demonstrate GS1's commitment to continuous improvement, supporting businesses in adapting to market trends and regulatory requirements. By staying informed about these changes, UK companies can ensure accurate product identification, efficient supply chain management, and improved customer experience.