Choosing International Barcodes
About International Barcodes
International barcodes are retail barcodes designed for international use. These are contrasted with internal use barcodes which can be made up because they are only used for internal systems. International barcodes are either EAN-13 or UPC-A Barcodes, used on retail products for sale in retail stores. These barcodes come from an international database and a guaranteed to only be on one product. Hence, retailers can be sure that there will be no double ups on any products in their stores. GS1 manages the International Barcoding system. This organisation distributes numbers and charges annual fees and joining fees for the rights to use them. Other companies sell barcode numbers that come from the same system, but we’re initially sold outright by the predecessor of GS1 and hence can now be resold legally. Numbers coming from these resellers are generally a lot cheaper than buying barcodes from GS1.
How to decide on International Barcodes
There are a few decisions to be made when it comes to choosing international barcodes. The first decision to be made is to decide on whether you need an EAN-13 or a UPC-A format barcode. Both of these formats are designed for international use. Hence, you should be ok using either one. However, UPC-A format barcodes are far more common in the USA, and EAN-13 barcodes are more common everywhere else. Hence we recommend that you choose barcodes based on where you will sell most of your product. Please see our EAN vs UPC Page for a better understanding of the differences.
After you have decided on your format, you need to decide whether to buy from a reseller or lease numbers from GS1. Reseller numbers are much cheaper as they do not have any ongoing fees. However, there are a couple of restrictions that should be reviewed before proceeding to purchase. Please see barcode acceptance for more details.