Manage your GTINs properly

Manage your GTINs properly

In our guide, we take you through the necessary steps to avoiding common mistakes made when managing your GS1 GTINs.

The guide takes you through the three guiding principles that should be reviewed by any brand owner when considering if a change to a product GTIN is required.

In addition, we take you through the ten further rules that offer direction as to when a GTIN should be changed.

Product identification standards update

GS1 standards are continually maintained and developed to meet the ever changing needs of our members. As part of this, a workgroup was recently set up to help online marketplace stakeholders with two areas of product identification that sometimes pose difficulty: clarification on identifying bundles of products and how to identify unbranded products.

These changes can be found in the most recent version of the GS1 General Specifications



Bundles are combinations of two or more trade items. Rapid growth in online selling in recent years, has highlighted challenges in product identification for bundles.

Sellers, brands, distribution centres and other players often create bundles (physical or virtual) that contain products from brands that they do not own.

There are two scenarios where our standards have been clarified:

1. Creation of a new physical bundle (two or more items physically combined together) requires a GTIN to be assigned. 

  • Physical bundles require GTIN assignment because a new trade item is created.
  • Regardless of the contents of the assortment/bundle, the party creating the bundle is responsible for allocating the GTIN to the bundle.
  • The GTIN should be assigned as soon as the new trade item is created.

2. Virtual bundles do not require new GTIN assignment, but all individual items being listed for sale need to have their own GTINs.

Physical bundles require GTIN assignment because a new trade item is created​. Regardless of the contents of the assortment/bundle, the party creating the bundle is responsible for allocating the GTIN to the bundle.​

Virtual bundles do not require new GTIN assignment, but all individual items being listed for sale need to have their own GTINs.​

Non-branded​ items

Non-branded​ items

Non-branded items are generic products that do not have a brand name. Sellers purchase non branded items directly from manufacturers and sell them online as is. Multiple sellers can source identical or similar non branded items from the same or different factories.

There are significant numbers of this type of product being sold on online marketplaces, and their identification can cause complications.

GS1 standards have been clarified in the following ways:

  • Non-branded items should be allocated a GTIN before they are listed. 
  • No downstream party may assign a different GTIN to a trade item that already has a GTIN, (e.g., distributor, wholesaler, importer, merchant) provided that the trade item is not changed in a way that would require a new GTIN as per the GS1 Management Standard.
  • The GTIN is to be assigned at the earliest point in any trade item’s journey.
  • For an item that does not have a GTIN, assignment of a GTIN may be done by any downstream actor by taking the role of GTIN allocator and taking responsibility for the trade item declarations.

Still have questions?

Get in contact with our support team, if you have more questions about how to manage your GTINs, and they will be happy to help.