Barcodes for Retail and Wholesale Products Sold in the U.S. and Canada

(UPC Codes, also known as UPC-A or GTIN-12)
The Challenge of Barcoding Retail Products to be sold in the U.S. and Canada
  Simply Barcodes understands the unique challenges facing exporters. Many exporters express confusion regarding the requirements for using a 12-digit UPC or the 13-digit EAN code in North America. Often exporters express concern about turnaround time.
Innovative Solutions for Selling Retail Product in the U.S. and Canada
  Simply Barcodes makes barcoding simple. You face numerous challenges when working to get your products to the market, so barcoding should not be one of them. Our service helps you achieve business success by ensuring that you select the right code for your markets. We offer same day and even rush service where we create and send your code within the hour.
Would you like to receive your barcode today?
  Order Now! Single Barcodes for $89 or call us at +1 404 885 6066 (worldwide) or 877-UPC-2060 (from USA & Canada)

What is a UPC?
   "UPC" stands for Universal Product Code. Retail products sold within the U.S. and Canada feature a single standard UPC barcode. The exceptions to this rule are: books, magazines, greeting cards, and prescription drugs. Retail products sold outside of North America feature an EAN barcode.

How do UPC codes work?
  In short, the UPC is a 12-digit unique code for your product represented by scannable bars.

Universal Product Codes (also known as GTIN-12) appear as lines (bars) of varying widths representing the series of numbers commonly shown below the bars.

Barcode scanners read the bars and convert them back to the 12-digit UPC number that they represent.

When you reach an agreement with a retailer to carry your product(s), they request the information required by their unique proprietary sales and inventory tracking systems.

Your 12-digit UPC number, when looked up within the retailer’s inventory system, finds the corresponding product name and price.

This information helps the retailer keep accurate inventory data, review sales, and reorder.

Do I really need a UPC code on my product?
  Most stores have electronic point of sale (ePOS) systems that enable them to keep track of their sales and stocks and to reorder products by scanning the UPC code.

Most retailers refuse to accept products that are not barcoded. In addition, many distributors make use of barcodes in their warehouse systems.

How do I get UPC codes for products sold within the United States?
1stGo to our Order Page or call us at +1 404 885 6066 (worldwide) or 877-UPC-2060 (from USA & Canada).
2ndPlace your order.
  We only require that you provide contact and billing information. You are not required to provide product information.
  Your retailer collects your product information, which they associate with your barcode at the Point of Sale.
  Note: We also accept PayPal, checks or money orders. If using one of these payment methods, please download and complete an Order Form and include it with your payment.
PayPal Checks/Money Orders

Send funds to:

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Simply Barcodes
1170 Peachtree Street NE, Suite 1200
Atlanta, GA 30309

What do I get when I order my UPC code?
1stUpon completion of your order, you will receive an email confirmation of your UPC barcode purchase.
2ndSimply Barcodes then assigns your official UPC numbers from our database of official codes issued by the UCC (now called GS1).
3rdThe digital barcode images are generated from the numbers you purchased.
4thYour UPC barcodes are emailed to you as an attachment.

In what format are my UPC codes created?
  For your convenience, you receive your UPC barcode graphic in three different formats so that your graphic artist, printing company, or manufacturing facility can work with the graphic in their preferred software.
EPS Format - This layered, vector EPS file is the preferred format of most graphic designers due to its quality and versatility, particularly for resizing. EPS is an "exchange" format, not necessarily associated with one specific graphics program. An exchange format is one intended for multiple applications to be able to open.
TIFF Format - This layered TIFF file works well for graphic artists who need a transparent background. This format is not suitable for significant resizing.
JPEG Format - This uncompressed, high-quality JPEG file is the most common file format. All computers can open a JPEG. However, it is not suitable for resizing.

When do I get my UPC codes?
  The turn-around time is often within an hour.
All orders received before 4 p.m. Eastern Time on business days are completed the same day. Orders placed after 4 p.m. will be processed next business day. If you require RUSH completion, please call +1 404 885 6066 (worldwide) or 877-UPC-2060 (from USA & Canada) to make arrangements.

What do I need to know about the standards organization for UPC codes?
  GS1, formerly called the UCC (Uniform Code Council) and EAN International, manages Universal Product Code standards.
UPC codes can be obtained in two ways...
  1. Leasing directly from GS1 for a considerable initial fee plus ongoing annual fees
  2. Purchasing for a one-time fee from Simply Barcodes

Does the barcode tell me (or others) in which country a product was manufactured?
  We are asked this question daily. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation on the internet and in e-mails that are going around. This happens especially frequently at times of product recalls or food safety scares.

The truth of the matter is very simple: No, it is absolutely not possible to tell in which country a product has been made by looking at the barcode.

We have put together a very detailed explanation of why this is not possible along with a recommendation on how you might tell where a product comes from here.

Do I need to have a company prefix?
  The only reasons that you might need a company prefix are that 1) you have thousands of unique products or 2) you are selling to The Kroger Co., Macys, Inc., Wal-Mart Stores, or Sears Brands, LLC.
  What is a company prefix?
  In the past, UPC bar codes consisted of a manufacturer’s number (also called a company prefix), a product number, and a check digit. The first six digits of a UPC bar code were referred to as the manufacturing number that always remained constant on all of a company’s products. The manufacturing number was followed by a five digit product number that is unique to each product. The 12th digit was a mathematically calculated digit, called a check digit.

That system in its original form was abandoned some time ago. Currently, it is no longer possible to look at any given Universal Product Code and determine which portion of the 12 digit number is a fixed manufacturer’s number and which portion is a product number.
  Why is this?
  The first reason is variable length prefixing.

GS1 changed its business model and began issuing 7, 8 and even 9-digit manufacturer’s prefixes in addition to the original 6-digit manufacturer’s number. The result of this is that it is no longer possible to look at any given UPC code and break it up into a company’s prefix and product ID number.

The second reason is that GS1 leased single UPC numbers for a short time in 2008, a program they’ve since discontinued in the U.S. but still offer in other GS1 member country organizations.

Since these single UPC codes do not technically have a prefix, Universal Product Codes need to be taken as the whole unique 12-digit number that is associated with your product/company information at the Point of Sale.

What if I am selling to The Kroger Co., Macys, Inc., Wal-Mart Stores, Sears Brands, LLC or other stores that require GS1 membership?
  In the case of these few retailers, you will have no choice but to lease your EAN numbers directly from GS1. These stores require that you have your own GS1 membership.

However, once you have obtained your prefix number from GS1, you can still return to us to have your digital EAN barcode images created using the GS1 numbers. You would also want to use our firm to have your master carton barcodes (SCC-14 codes) created. Large retailers generally require that you properly label your shipments with SCC-14 barcodes.


  •   “I am happy with my experience with Simply Barcodes. I own a digital printing shop and I was impressed with the ease of the process. All we had to do was order and that same day we were able to put the barcode in the packaging artwork. I did not have any problems.”

    Ysabelle Roy
    Port-au-Prince, Petion Ville, Haiti
  •   “It was so easy to get the barcode. The process was very simple. I received my barcode within one hour. In a matter of minutes we were able to use the barcode. I am happy with my experience with you.”

    Michel Moore
    Candiac, QC, Canada
  •   “We purchased codes from you previously and we expect to purchase another 10 codes from you within a year. Thanks for a great service.”

    Judy Jui
    Judy's Magic Mixes
    Ontario, Canada
  •   “The process was quick and we received our barcodes the same day. We are very happy with your service.”

    Ann Alari
    Nemcom International OU
    Surrey, Great Britain
  •   “It was a simple and easy process. I received my barcodes quickly. The service is efficient and friendly.”

    Fiona Silk
    Mind Candy
    London, Great Britain