Thousands of happy New Zealand customers | 1m+ Barcodes sold globally | 10,000+ daily scans

Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a list of barcode FAQs. If you can’t find an answer to your question, please contact us.

A barcode number is a unique sequence of digits. They are used to identify a particular product or item. Barcode numbers for retail products are usually 12- or 13 digits long. Barcode numbers can be encoded into a barcode image (vertical black bars and spaces). This connects to the barcode number and product information when scanned at the checkout.
  Barcodes are used to identify products. Barcode numbers for retail products are usually 12- or 13 digits long. Barcode numbers can be encoded into a barcode image (vertical black bars and spaces). This connects to the barcode number and product information when scanned at the checkout. Barcodes are also used for inventory control so stores know when they are running low on a product and need to reorder it.
No. For retail purposes, you cannot make up your own barcodes. Barcodes are globally unique numbers. They are used to identify each product variant (SKU) in retailers’ databases. They come from an international system to ensure the same barcode number is never used twice.
Here are the three quick steps to getting a barcode in NZ;

1. Work out how many products you have in your range. For example, if you sell coffee and have three types of beans, each in two sizes, you will need six barcodes.

2. Order at the orange button on our website.

3. You will receive the barcode by email in 5 minutes. Add the barcode image to the packaging design or have it printed on labels.

Free barcode generators just create barcode images. They do not issue the barcode number. The barcode number is the important part. You have to own your own barcode numbers. You cannot make up barcode numbers. The number may already be in use or belong to someone else. Barcode numbers come from a global system to ensure the same number is not issued twice. Please also note that free barcode generators tend to make poor-quality images and often in formats unsuitable for packaging design. Be safe and buy your barcodes from Barcodes Ltd. We include high-quality barcode images in 4 useful formats when you order your retail barcodes from us.
Over 50 years ago, George Laurer developed the UPC barcode system. Businesses adopted this system in the USA (and later worldwide) as the preferred barcode system. George Laurer has a website ( where he gives a lot of useful information about the barcode system. He clarified the law around barcodes and expressed concern at how expensive it (now) is to get barcodes from GS1-US (because of the annual fees they have started charging). He also recommended affordable alternatives for getting barcodes. The barcodes that we issue come from a source recommended by Mr Laurer.
The global barcoding system began in the 1970s in the USA. The barcodes were in UPC-A format (12 digits long). When that barcode system spread worldwide, another barcode format was used outside of the USA. This newer barcode format is called EAN-13. EAN-13 barcodes are 13 digits long. They are based on the shorter UPC-A barcodes. The barcodes that we issue are in EAN-13 format. EAN-13 is the preferred barcode format in New Zealand, Australia, and everywhere else in the world (except the USA).

However, it is important to note that both EAN and UPC barcodes can be used worldwide because almost every barcode scanner can decode barcodes in either format. This means that if you want to export your products to the USA, you won’t need to get them re-barcoded with UPC barcodes. Our company can issue barcodes in the American UPC format (instead of our standard EAN-13 format) if you request this.

Most retailers in New Zealand today use a barcoding system. For this reason, we would advise you to barcode your products. If your products have barcodes, this will increase the number of retail stores accepting your products. It also means that you won’t have to re-barcode your products in the future if your retailers later request it. Our barcodes are available for one-off prices (we don’t charge any annual fees), so there is no downside to getting your products barcoded now and saving yourself the hassle of doing this in the future.
You will need a different barcode for each different product and product variation (size, colour, design, etc.). For example, if you are selling picture frames in three different sizes (small, medium, and large), two different types of wood (rimu and kauri), and two different designs (plain and patterned), you would need twelve barcodes.
Any barcode packages ordered through our website will be emailed with the guarantee and images as attached files (in 4 different formats – jpeg, png, SVG & pdf). You would then incorporate the barcode image into your product packaging in an easily visible flat location, either by yourself or by your graphic designer. Please bear in mind the barcode specifications when doing this.

Alternatively, we print barcode labels, which you can manually stick onto your products.

If you get your barcode from our company, it will be suitable for any retail product. Our barcodes are in EAN-13 format, which is the standard retail barcode for NZ and most of the world. We supply barcodes that are currently being used on a wide range of products (clothing, cosmetics. food, toys, wine, bottled water, beer, postcards, artwork, etc.).
Our barcodes will work in all retail stores with a barcode system because they are EAN-13 format codes (and are, therefore, compatible with almost every barcode scanner worldwide). However, a couple of stores in Australasia won’t accept our barcodes. This is because these retailers require you to be a Global Standards Body member for barcodes and pay annual fees to that organisation for a ‘license’ to use their barcodes.

Products are using our barcodes in Foodstuffs NZ stores. However, Foodstuffs NZ has been changing their requirements. Hence, we advise contacting Foodstuffs and checking their requirements before purchasing barcodes.

Many of our customers hope to get their products into major retail chains but realise that they have a low chance of success and may take many years. Hence, they start with our barcodes, realising they MIGHT need to switch to GS1 barcodes if they somehow manage to get an order from a large retail chain – and that order should be large enough to justify the additional expense of GS1’s costly joining fee and annual fees.

IMPORTANT – Please see our Barcode Acceptance page for the latest information.

NOTE: If you are exporting your products to the USA, a couple of stores in the USA (Kroger’s and Walmart) probably won’t accept our barcodes (you will probably have to join GS1 and get your product barcodes from them instead). To our knowledge, every other store in New Zealand, Australia and worldwide will accept our barcodes.

NOTE – there are millions of different stores worldwide, so it would be impossible for any company to guarantee their barcodes are accepted in all stores. We aim to serve our customers by informing them of any restrictions that we know of regarding the use of our barcode numbers – we want our barcodes to work for you. Hence, we provide information that is as accurate as possible but take no responsibility for specific store requirements. If you are unsure, ask your retailers about any specific barcoding requirements they have before purchasing barcodes.

If you decide to join a Global Standards Body (GS1) and get your barcodes from them, you can come back to our company to get the barcode images. GS1 does not supply the barcode images, only the 12- or 13-digit long barcode number itself.

Yes, absolutely. Our barcodes are in EAN-13 format and can, therefore, be used everywhere in the world. We have customers using our barcodes in Australia, the Pacific Islands, the UK, the USA, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
Yes, our barcodes were issued by an official barcode body, the UCC,  now known as GS1-US. Because of this, they are legal to use & are unique worldwide.
Yes, our barcodes are legal for use in New Zealand (as well as worldwide). They are used on millions of products throughout New Zealand. Our barcodes come from the same original system as GS1 barcodes. Hence, they still work perfectly within this system.
We offer a company prefix to customers who buy 10, 100 or 1,000 barcodes at once. The length of the prefix is determined by the number of codes bought. Read more about how this works on our Company Prefix page.
No product information is contained in a barcode. A barcode only becomes linked to your product through a retailer’s database. When a retailer receives your product, they type the barcode number and product info into their system. After that, when your barcode is scanned, the product information will appear on the retailer’s checkout system.
You can order a barcode from us from our online Barcode Shop and pay by credit card, poli, bank transfer or PayPal.
After you receive your barcode, you can assign the barcode number to your product & attach the digital barcode picture to your product (i.e. print it onto the product label or packaging). After that, all you need to do is give your product to your retailers. They will enter all the relevant details into their system to connect your barcode to your product.
No, you do not have to be a registered company to purchase a barcode from us. Any individual, company, or business can purchase barcodes from our company. We work with many sole traders.
Yes, absolutely. Our barcodes are in EAN-13 format (or UPC-A, if you prefer), and they can be used worldwide. We have various payment options: credit card, PayPal, cheque, direct bank deposit, or Western Union.
Yes, the barcode number you receive from our company will be unique (not only in New Zealand but worldwide). We can guarantee that your number will be unique because all of our barcodes originally came from a Global Standards Body (UCC – now known as GS1-US).
No, your barcode will never expire. Once we assign a barcode to you, you become the legal owner of it (forever). You can choose how you want to use it. We will never make you pay any renewal fees – all of our prices are one-off.
No, barcodes (Global Trade Item Numbers or GTIN’s for short) that have already been used in retailers are permanently exclusive and cannot be reused on a different product. This is because the previous information is still in retailers databases so the previous product name and price would be associated with this barcode (GTIN).
See the official standards for barcode size. The minimum acceptable printing dimensions for EAN-13 barcodes are about 30mm wide x 20mm high.
Black bars on a white background is standard for barcodes as it gives good contrast for scanning. However you can print your barcode in other colours, but you must have a good distinction between the bars of your barcode and the spaces in between. Do not print onto black packaging, as you need the left and right white ‘quiet zones’ to show. Some colour combinations won’t work. For full details please see our Barcode Colour page and our Barcode Colour & Print Guide PDF.
No, the barcode you buy from our company will not be registered in a Central Database. This is because there is no Central Database for barcodes and products. After you receive your barcode, you can begin using it immediately. We do offer an optional barcode registration service (although your barcode will work fine without registration).
In the 1990s, several manufacturers in America were assigned unique manufacturer ID numbers by UCC (the Uniform Code Council, which is now known as GS1-US). These numbers became the property of these manufacturers.

In the early 2000s, UCC decided to make some changes. They retained ownership of all new manufacturer ID numbers (barcodes) they issued and claimed that all previous barcodes they had issued to manufacturers were still technically their property. UCC made all new businesses join them as a ‘member’ and pay annual ‘membership’ fees for a license to use their barcode numbers. UCC also tried to make the previous manufacturers pay annual ‘membership’ fees for a license to continue using the barcode numbers issued to them a decade before.

Some of these manufacturers took the UCC to court to challenge the legality of the new annual fee requirement. These manufacturers succeeded and received a settlement of almost $4,000,000 (USD). Under the settlement, any company that had paid a ‘membership’ fee to UCC before August 28, 2002, was entitled to free ongoing membership of UCC and could continue to use the company prefix assigned to them.

The barcode numbers we issue to our customers come from the numbers assigned to one of these companies. They are unused numbers. For this reason, we do not have to pay annual fees for a ‘license’ to use the barcodes we sell, and this benefit is passed on to our customers. We will never charge our customers any ongoing future fees for the use of their barcodes. All of our barcodes are available for a one-off price.[/EXPAND]

[expand text="Can you send me sample barcode artwork?"]There are some sample barcode image zip files in the link on the side of this page. You can download these and try them out. If you have trouble downloading these images, email us for some sample images.

If you need a barcode for your book, you first need to get an ISBN from the NZ National Library in Wellington. ISBNs are unique numbers assigned to books. After you receive your ISBN number, please return to our company and order barcode images online. We will turn your ISBN number into barcode images and email them to you in digital format.
If you need a barcode for your magazine, you will need to get an ISSN number (from the NZ National Library). ISSNs are unique 8-digit numbers for magazines, newspapers or other serial publications. After you have your ISSN number, please return to order barcode images online. We will turn your ISSN number into barcode images and email them to you in digital format.
A GLN is a globally unique number that some retailers use as a location identifier for suppliers. If you require one of these, it can be purchased here.
Both UPC-A Numbers and EAN-13 numbers are used as retail barcodes for scanning at the checkout to obtain the price and other product information. The main differences between them are that UPC-A barcodes only have 12 digits, and EAN-13 barcodes have 13 digits. Furthermore, the displacement of the numbers below the barcodes differs.

Both versions are designed for international use and can, therefore, in theory, be used throughout the world. However, UPC-A Barcodes are far more common in the USA. EAN-13 Barcodes are far more common everywhere else. This means that some retailers may be unfamiliar with one format or have their system set up not to accept 13-digit or 12-digit numbers. Regardless of this, either format is functional.

As shown in the image below, the actual bars of the UPC-A format barcode and the EAN-13 format barcode (with a leading ‘0’) are identical. This means that they will scan in the same way regardless of which country they are in. If a retailer’s system does not allow 13-digit numbers, the leading ‘0’ can be ignored when typing the number into the system, and the barcode will work in the same way as if it were a UPC-A format barcode. Similarly, if 13 digits are required, a ‘0’ can be added to the beginning of the UPC-A barcode to turn it into an EAN-13. Either way, the barcode is globally unique and legal for use internationally.


Our barcodes begin with a ’07’. This means that the barcodes themselves originally came from the USA. However, this says nothing about the origin of the products themselves. Products from any country can use barcodes from the USA and vice versa.

Where to find different things on our site:

Book Barcodes
Magazine Barcodes
CD Barcodes
DVD Barcodes
Barcode Verification
Barcode Labels
Why Buy Barcodes From Us?
QR Codes
Amazon Barcode Numbers
ITF-14 Carton Codes

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