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Ultimate guide to GTINs, EANs and UPCs for Amazon, eBay & Google

Are you confused about GTINs, EANs and UPCs for use on Amazon, eBay or Google Shopping? We’ve teamed up with daytodayebay to help you find the answer to all your questions.

Online sellers now need to include a product identifier on their listings for trading on an online marketplace. These usually take the form of a Brand, Manufacturer Part Number (MPN) or an EAN (European Article Number) or UPC (Universal Product Code). This is a new requirement for online sellers – and it can be a tedious task for them to update all of their listings.

Uniquely identifying your products is important for helping your business’ supply chain to run smoothly. We think it’s important for you to understand the basics of why this is happening, so we’ve created these FAQs to help you understand what’s required, where you can get your GTINs to identify your products, how you can identify your products correctly and avoid any unnecessary risk to your eBay, Amazon or Google Shopping listings.


What is a barcode?

A barcode is the image you’ll recognise from most products that you see every day. The pattern of light and dark areas is a form of data carrier that allows for a machine to read a number, which identifies the product, automatically.

What is a GTIN?

Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) –The name given to the number that uniquely identifies a product. Is 12 digits in North America, but it’s usually 13 digits long in the rest of the world, or occasionally 8 digits (for very small products).

GS1 UK Barcode EANWhat is an EAN?

European Article Number (EAN) – The name given to the standard barcode image that represents the 13 digit GTIN on most products you buy in shops in the UK and globally, except for North America.

GS1 UK Barcode UPCWhat is a UPC?

Universal Product Code (UPC) - The name given to the standard barcode image of a 12 digit GTIN that is commonly used in North America.

What’s the difference between an EAN and a UPC?

A UPC is usually a 12-digit barcode used in North America to identify most products. The rest of the world uses 13-digit EAN barcodes to identify products. However, both types of numbers and barcodes are part of the GS1 System of international standards, so both are accepted globally.

If I already have a UPC do I need to get an EAN?

No. A UPC barcode and 12 digit GTIN does the same job as an EAN barcode and 13 digit GTIN. The UPC originated in the US, but is part of the global GS1 System. So if you license UPCs from a GS1 organisation, you’ll have no problems using them globally. When a 13 digit number is required you can add a zero to the front of your 12 digit GTIN.

How do product identifiers work?

A product identifier is simply a number that allows you to uniquely identify your product.

The GS1 System of product identification ensures that the number you have given your product is unique. Retailers have been using GS1 product identifiers – GTINs - to manage their inventories for over 40 years.

Today, with 100s of millions of products now listed online on websites and marketplaces this is more vital than ever. Marketplaces use product identifiers to manage their product catalogues, so if your product is mis-numbered and has the same identifier as another product it causes a data conflict.

Do I need a product identifier?

Yes. If you’re trading online on a marketplace such as Amazon, eBay or Google Shopping. They all now require you to input a product identifier when you list your product.

Why do I need a product identifier to sell my product online?

As marketplaces develop their websites, they need more information about what’s listed in their catalogues. As with traditional retail, knowing what’s available to buy in their catalogues is essential to keeping shoppers happy – and buying your products.

Why are product identifiers becoming important for online sellers including eBay and Amazon?

Product identifiers will help you to grow your business. They’re a great way to improve traffic to your listings. This is because search engines such as Google and Bing are also using product identifiers as a way of tying together the information about your product in a structured way – this makes it easier for them to return your listings for relevant search queries.

Uniquely identified products also allow the marketplaces to better understand what’s in their catalogue. Marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay are using product identifiers to structure product data on their websites so that they can improve a shopper’s experience. Product identifiers are used to drive features such as product reviews and to create smarter offers for shoppers.

Do I need either an EAN or a UPC product identifier?

It doesn’t matter. If you’re a GS1 UK member you’ll get a company prefix that enables you to create 13 digit identifiers – GTINs - that are used in EAN barcodes. But 12 digit GTINs and 13 digit GTINs, which are represented by UPC and EAN barcodes, are both part of the global GS1 System so both will be suitable for your products.

I am a fashion retailer. Do I need product identifiers to sell on Amazon, eBay or Google Shopping?

Amazon required GTINs for the entire fashion category – clothing, footwear and accessories.

Google Shopping requires GTINs for shoes, sunglasses, handbags and watches. And in all categories Google states that “Whenever GTINs are available, we strongly recommend providing them in the 'GTIN' attribute.”

For eBay, GTINs are required for all single and multivariate listings for new, relisted, revised and Good ‘Til Cancelled listings of new and manufacturer-refurbished items. There are some exceptions for the clothing, footwear and accessories category – these can be found here.

Will my product identifiers work with Amazon?

Yes, if it’s from a GS1 organisation. Amazon accept GS1 GTINs in all of their forms, so if you have a GTIN-13 (or EAN number) or GTIN-12 (or UPC number), when you’re listing a new product you’ll most likely be asked to provide one. There are some exceptions and exemptions for some products, these can be found here.

Are product identifiers issued by an official body?

GS1 is the not-for-profit organisation that administers and maintains the GS1 System of supply chain standards globally. These standards include product identifiers such as GTINs, as well as EAN and UPC barcode specifications. We work with over 2 million members worldwide to ensure our standards support industries as they develop and grow.

Are GS1 product identifiers permitted for use globally?

GS1 GTINs, EAN and UPC barcodes are used in the UK and all over the world. Over 150 countries use the GS1 System – with over 6 billion GS1 barcodes scanned every day!

Will my product identifiers ever expire?

When you join a GS1 organisation you’re allocated a unique company prefix that allows you to generate your GTINs. This prefix is licensed to you on an annual basis. Similar to your TV licence, as long as you need to identify your products you need to renew your licence.

Do I have to pay renewal fees?

As your company prefix is licensed from GS1, this means there is an annual licence fee for your membership.

Is there anything that I need to do after I receive my product identifiers from you?

With a GS1 membership we leave the best person in charge to manage your product data – you. So we won’t send you each identifier individually. You’ll get a unique company prefix and from this you can assign up to 100, 000 GTINs – so you can be sure you’ll never run out.

You can manage all your numbers online using our secure online service, My Numberbank. You’ll find this in the member’s area of our website.

When will I receive my product identifiers - how long does it take?

You can register at and you’ll receive your company prefix in a matter of minutes – which means you can start assigning GTINs immediately.

Will my product identifiers be unique to me?

All GS1 members are licensed a unique company prefix which enables them to give each of their products a unique GTIN – so as long as you assign the numbers correctly you won’t have any problems.

Will my product identifiers work in a country other than the UK?

Yes. The GS1 System is used in over 150 countries worldwide. There are millions of trading partners all over the globe using our standards for product identification and barcodes.

Join today and get:

  • A minimum of 1,000 barcode numbers 
  • An online database to manage them
  • Free telephone and online support
Membership fees
Turnover  Annual licence fee  Allocation
up to £0.50m £119 Up to 1,000 numbers
£0.5m to £1m £131 Up to 1,000 numbers
£1m to £10m £203 Up to 1,000 numbers
£10m to £50m £318 Up to 10,000 numbers
£50m to £100m £1,300 Up to 10,000 numbers
£100m to £250m £1,700 Up to 10,000 numbers
£250m to £500m £2,200 Up to 100,000 numbers
£500m to £1bn £2,700 Up to 100,000 numbers
Over £1bn £3,200 Up to 100,000 numbers

All prices exclude VAT

Get your barcodes now or learn more about our membership benefits.

Join GS1 UK

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