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Global Trade Item Number (GTIN)

What is a Global Trade Item Number (GTIN)?

A Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) is a numeric system that provides globally unique codes to identify goods, services, and trade items. More specifically, GTIN is a family of GS1 global data structures that employ 8, 12, 13, or 14 digits, and can be encoded into different types of data carriers. Right now, a GTIN is primarily used within barcodes, but it can also be used with other data carriers like radio frequency identification (RFID). 

Since a GTIN is compatible with varying types of GS1 numbering strings, most companies in North America use the universal product code (UPC) as their form of GTIN.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I get a GTIN number for my products?

    All retail products can be identified with a 13-digit number, known as a GTIN. To create a consumer product GTIN or barcode number, you’ll need to combine the GS1 Company Prefix licensed to you with a unique Item Reference.

    Note: an Item References should be allocated sequentially from zero, without any in-built significance (and recorded securely).

    The GS1 Company Prefix plus the Item Reference will give you a total of 12 digits. The 13th digit is a computer ‘Check Digit,’ which essentially ensures your barcode is correctly composed. This final number can be found using a simple, online Check Digit calculator from gs1.org.

  • How long is a GTIN number?

    A Global Trade Item Number may be 8, 12, 13, or 14 digits long (GTIN-8, GTIN-12, GTIN-13, or GTIN-14), though the appropriate GTIN and barcode (or EPC) combination hinges on many factors. With that said, each of these types of GTIN is found by combining Company Prefix, Item Reference, and a calculated Check Digit. A GTIN-13 will actually add another component, known as the Indicator Digit, to complete its coding and become a 14-digit number.

    Generally speaking, GTIN-8's are used for items that are too small to carry the usual EAN-13 barcode image, such as cosmetics, chewing gum, and so on.

  • Is having a GTIN number mandatory?

    While using a Global Trade Item Number isn’t mandatory (i.e. not all goods have unique identification numbers), GTIN management does make it easier to classify product data passing through point of sale — and makes your ads and listings easier for users to locate. That’s because GTIN symbology and product identifiers are the most widely accepted GS1 standard in the world, and are used by more than a million retailers in over 100 countries. 

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