We are manufacturing a product (outside the USA or Canada) and need a barcode for retail

The following applies if you are the manufacturer of a product, e.g. a package of paper clips, and want to put a barcode on the product package which will be scanned at the POS.

Simplified that process is as follows:

1. Get a manufacturer prefix (also known as GLN (Global Location Number) from your country's GS1 branch (see below for links). This carries an annual fee.

2. The manufacturer prefix comes with a range of numbers you can assign to your products. You then inform your trading partners of your products and their assigned numbers, e.g. that a package of 500 paper clips has the article number, or GTIN, 4012345678901.

It depends on the retail outlet or super market chain in question how this information is to be presented. In most cases an Excel spreadsheet or something similar will be sufficient.

3. After assigning the numbers you are ready to create a barcode (usually as a high resolution graphics or EPS file as produced by Softmatic BarcodePlus). The barcode can then be added to your package design, for example in Illustrator, Quark XPress or similar software.

For all countries outside the USA and Canada the barcode symbology to use is Code EAN (EAN goes by many other names, for example in Japan it's JAN).

Sample EAN Barcode

Code EAN Sample

Note that there is no shortcut to this procedure. We do not recommended to purchase so called "one time EAN" codes or to use "buy a single barcode" services. Those codes do not carry your manufacturer prefix but the prefix of the respective service.

There are two main problems with this approach:

1. If the service goes out of business or fails to pay their annual fee your numbers may become unusable.

2. The manufacturer prefix is also part of the SSCC-18 barcode on shipping labels, used by the recipient to identify the sender (you). That's not possible in this case and may incur chargeback fees. There might even be number collisions if other companies that got their UPC codes from the same service happen to create an identical SSCC-18 code - a big no-no!

Also, registering with the GS1 and purchasing a dedicated barcode software is in most cases actually cheaper.

To find the GS1 branch for your country, see the list on the GS1 website.

EAN Barcode Software

Windows PC - Softmatic® BarcodePlus (Win, V4, Windows XP or higher)

Download for Windows

Mac OS X - Softmatic® BarcodePlus (Mac, V4, 10.7 "Lion" or higher)

Download for Mac