A barcode number is a unique sequence of digits that is 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) that, when scanned at the checkout, will be connected to the barcode number and product information.
In the nineteen-seventies George Laurer developed the UPC bar code system. This system was adopted by businesses in the USA (and later worldwide) as the preferred barcode system. George Laurer has a website (http://www.laurerupc.com) where he gives a lot of useful information about the barcode system. He clarifies the law around barcodes, expresses concern at how expensive it (now) is to get barcodes from GS1-US (because of the annual fees they have started charging), and recommends affordable alternatives for getting barcodes. The barcodes that we issue come from a source recommended by Mr. Laurer.
Our current barcoding system began in the 1970s in the USA. The barcodes were UPC-A format (12 digits long). When that barcode system spread worldwide, another barcode format was used outside of the USA – this barcode format is called EAN-13. EAN-13 barcodes are 13 digits long, and are based on the shorter UPC-A barcodes. The barcodes that we issue are in EAN-13 format, because this 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 is capable of decoding 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 is able to issue barcodes in the American UPC format (instead of our standard EAN-13 format), if this is requested by our customers.
Most retailers in New Zealand today use a barcoding system. For this reason, we would advice you to barcode your products. If your products have barcodes on them, this will increase the number of retail stores that will accept your products (it will also mean 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 & 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 unique barcode numbers.
Any barcodes ordered through our website will be emailed to with the guarantee and images as attached files (in 5 different formats – .eps, bitmap, tiff, jpeg & PDF). You would then get them incorporated into your product packaging in an easily visible flat location, either by yourself, or by your graphic designer. Please bare in mind the barcode specifications when doing this.
Yes, if you get your barcode from our company it will be suitable for any retail product. Our barcodes are in EAN-13 format – this is the standard retail barcode for NZ and most of the world. Our barcodes are currently being used on a very wide range of products (clothing, food, wine, bottled water, CDs, DVDs, postcards, artwork etc).
Our barcodes will work in all retail stores that have a barcode system because they are EAN-13 format codes (and are therefore compatible with almost every barcode scanner worldwide). However, there are a couple of stores in Australasia that won’t accept our barcodes. This is because these retailers require you to be a member of a Global Standards Body for barcodes, and to pay annual fees to that organisation for a ‘license’ to use their barcodes.
NOTE: If you are exporting your products to the USA, there are a couple of stores in the USA as well (Kroger’s and Wal-Mart) that probably won’t accept our barcodes (you will probably have to join GS1 and get your 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 you purchase barcodes.
If you do 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 do 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 NZ, Australia, the UK, the USA, Europe, the Pacific Islands, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
Yes – our barcodes are legal for use in New Zealand (as well as worldwide). They are used on 1000’s of products throughout New Zealand. Our barcodes come from the same original system as GS1 barcodes. Hence they still work perfectly within this system.
No, your barcodes will not have a Company Prefix. Our company is able to sell individual barcode numbers to our customers. Because we can sell single numbers, we are unable to provide our customers with a Company Prefix. If you want a Company Prefix you will have to join a Global Standards Body for barcodes and pay their annual fees. They will assign you with a Company Prefix. Note: 99.8% of retailers don’t care whether or not your barcodes have a Company Prefix.
No product information is contained in a barcode. A barcode only becomes linked to your product through a retailer’s computer system. When a retailer receives your product, they type the barcode number & product info into their system – after that, when your barcode is scanned the product info will appear on the retailer’s screen.
You can order a barcode from us from our online Barcode Shop and pay by credit card or PayPal. If you’d prefer to pay by direct deposit, cheque, or Western Union, please give us an email and we will send you an invoice and some payment instructions.
After you receive your barcode, you can just assign the barcode number to your product & attach the digital barcode picture to your product (ie. 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.
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 available: 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 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, the barcode you buy from our company will not be registered in a Central Database (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 1990’s, several manufacturers in America were assigned unique manufacturer ID numbers by UCC (the Global Standards Body for barcodes – now known as GS1-US). These numbers became the property of these manufacturers.
In the early 2000’s, 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 that had been issued to them a decade before.
Some of these manufacturers took UCC to Court to challenge the legality of the new annual fees 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 on-going membership of UCC and could continue to use the company prefix assigned to them.
The barcode numbers we issue to our customers came from the numbers assigned to one of these companies. 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 onto our customers – we will never charge our customers any on-going future fees for the use of their barcodes (all of our barcodes are available for a one-off price).
Yes, you can print your barcode with a coloured background – but use a light colour so that there is still a lot of contrast between the black bars and the background colour. We recommend that you carefully test a sample of the printed barcode (using a handheld scanner) before getting all your printing underway. Some colour combinations are not suitable. For more information please see our Barcode Colour Guide PDF.
If you need a barcode for your book, you should probably get an ISBN number (from the NZ National Library). ISBNs are unique numbers assigned to books. After you have your number, return to our company and order barcode images onlinefor your number. We will turn your number into barcode images & email them to you in digital format.
If you need a barcode for your magazine, you should probably get an ISSN number (from the NZ National Library). ISSNs are unique 8 digit numbers for magazines. After you have your number, return to our company and order barcode images online for your number. We will turn your number into barcode images & email them to you in digital format.
Both UPC-A Numbers and EAN-13 numbers are used as retail barcodes for scanning at the checkout in order 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, and 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 so that it cannot accept 13 digit or 12 digit numbers. Regardless of this, either format can be used.
As can be seen 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 exactly the same way regardless of which country they are in. If a retailers 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 round, the barcode will be globally unique and legal for use internationally.
Our barcodes begin with a ’07’. This means that the barcodes themselves originally come 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.