GLNs can be used to identify parties and locations, including legal entities, physical locations, digital locations and functions. GLNs are unique reference keys that allow for automated processes, where computers can efficiently route information to the right destination without manual intervention.  

GLNs are used when identifying locations and trading partners within Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) business messages and the Global Data Synchronisation Network (GDSN), and they can also be used in barcodes to identify physical locations

Benefits of using GLNs:


Enable the unique and unambiguous identification of any location


Used in barcodes to improve traceability and inventory management


Enable efficient sharing of transactional and master data between organisations


Enable interoperability between systems, facilitating accurate and automatic processes

What can GLNs identify?

A legal entity is an organisation and can include businesses, government bodies, charities, healthcare providers and even individuals.  

In the world of GS1 standards, a legal entity is assigned a GLN to uniquely identify it across organisations.

Functions are organisational subdivisions or departments such as accounts receivable or radiology.

Within GS1 standards, a function can be assigned a GLN for better internal tracking within a business process. This helps track the specific department or role involved in a transaction or process within the larger legal entity. 

A physical location could be something like a warehouse or pharmacy. It could also be something like a room, a bed space in a hospital or dock doors.

These locations have a physical presence and can be interacted with in the real world. 

A digital location is an electronic (non-physical) address that is used for communication between computer systems, and may include the development status (testing, production), network address of the location and the system administrator contact details (email address, phone number, etc.)

How do I get a GLN?

As a member of GS1 UK, you can use My Numberbank to allocate GLNs to your own locations. A separate number is required to identify each different location or party to ensure uniqueness. 

Creating GLNs

A GLN is a 13-digit number formed using your GS1 Company Prefix (GCP). The number contains no information about the location but provides a link to systems where the information is held.

The company assigning GLNs is responsible for ensuring their uniqueness.  

The 13-digit numbers are created as follows:

GS1 Company Prefix Location reference Check digit Number of GLNs
5012345 00000 8 100,000
50551234 0123 9 10,000
506001234 999 8 1,000

GS1 Company Prefix: This will be assigned to you by GS1 UK and will vary in length from six to nine digits 


Location reference: This is assigned by you, and we recommend that you begin with zeroes and increase the count sequentially. The numbers have no meaning 


Check digit: This is calculated using the first twelve digits of the number. You can calculate your check digit here

Like all other GS1 Identification Keys such as Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs), GLNs have no meaning and should always be used in their entirety within companies’ systems. No user should ever attempt to parse the number into its components to reveal any meaning, because it is designed to be used as a reference point and not as a miniature database. 

GLNs and GTINs

GLNs and GTINs are formed from your GS1 Company Prefix so the numbering series are identical. This means it is extremely important that GTINs and GLNs are held in separate database records. They are always used in context so there should be no confusion in practice. GLNs and GTINs are communicated in different fields within electronic business messages, and when they are encoded in barcodes, the use of GS1 application identifiers ensures that the data is understood and processed correctly. 

Associated data

You need to communicate the details about each GLN to your trading partners before they are used. These details will be stored on file and retrieved each time the GLN is communicated.

For example, the information about a location identified with a GLN will often include:

  • Company name and postal address
  • Contact details
  • Type of location, such as manufacturing centre or distribution centre
  • Financial information – bank details and payment terms
  • Delivery requirements and or restrictions

The owner of the location can also provide additional information to assist the trading process such as:

  • Exact location, for example, room number, entrance number, bay number
  • Facility specification, such as operating hours, time zone
  • Supported functions covered by the GLN such as order placements, receipt of invoices, receipt of merchandise, collection etc

Learn more about Global Location Number allocation and management rules.