How to Buy UPC Codes for Amazon (2021 Update)

| JAN 11, 2021 | AMAZON & MARKETPLACESpeople searching google

As an Amazon seller, you should already be familiar with UPC codes and what they entail. Amazon requires sellers to have unique product codes (also called UPC codes) to list their products.

There is only one legitimate global producer of UPC codes: GS1. GS1 (Global Standard 1) is a non-profit organization that has set the global standard for supply chain barcoding.

GS1 US is the organization that provides UPC codes to US-based businesses, but here are more than 100 GS1 organizations around the world. GS1 issues unique prefixes to brand owners so that they can create their own unique barcodes with the prefix number given to them by GS1.

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Keep reading for everything you need to know about Amazon’s UPC code policies and how to buy UPC codes for Amazon in 2020. 

Jump to a section below:

1. What is a GTIN?

2. What are UPC codes?

3. What are EAN Codes?

4. Where to Buy Your UPC Codes

5. Steps to Buying a UPC Code

6. Amazon’s UPC Code Requirements

What is a GTIN?

 
A GTIN is a Global Trade Item Number that identifies individual products – not to be confused with an actual product barcode. GTINs are a combination of GS1 US-issued company prefix numbers and a unique product number, plus a check digit that helps to ensure the GTIN is created correctly. 

GTINs can be encoded into different types of barcodes:

  1. UPCs (Unique Product Codes)
  2. EANs (European Article Numbers)

It’s important to assign each product a unique GTIN, and you must ensure that every variation of an item is assigned a globally unique number.

Keep in mind, in most Amazon categories, sellers are required to use a separate UPC for multi-pack products, and they must also indicate the ” item package quantity ” when listing multi-packs. Product bundles (aka Amazon product bundling) are composed of different products (not multiples of the same product) and each bundle requires its own unique UPC (or EAN). For more info, check out Amazon’s Product Bundling Policy and How Products are Defined.

A GTIN, along with a UPC code, can be used anywhere in the world. GS1 is the only official global provider of GS1 GTINs and EAN and UPC barcodes.

UPC codes
Amazon UPC Code

What are UPC Codes?

 
The UPC code was the original format for product barcodes. There are two main types of UPC codes: UPC-E and UPC-A. UPC-A is essentially identical to UPC-E; however, UPC-E does not include 0s. That means you will not actually see the 0’s within the barcode, only within the corresponding GTIN.

Amazon UPC Code
Amazon UPC code

UPC barcodes are currently the primary barcodes used within the US and Canada. Although other countries can scan and read UPC codes, most countries outside of the US and Canada use EANs.

When supply and demand in Europe, Asia, and Australia increased, there was a need to distinguish each seller by location. GS1 then began allocating specific prefixes for different GS1 member organizations.

While certain prefixes identify the GS1 branch where the prefix was licensed, it does not necessarily specify where that product was made. For example, there is a misconception that all barcode prefixes on American-made products will start with a zero or one.
 

What are EAN Codes?

 
EAN or European Article Numbers (also called International Article Numbers or IANs) are GS1-issued barcodes that include company prefixes at the beginning of the numeric GTIN. Two primary forms of EANs are popular among Amazon sellers: EAN-13 and EAN-8, which encode a GTIN-13 and GTIN-8, respectively.

Like UPC codes, EANs don’t necessarily identify the country where the product was made.

Amazon UPC code
Amazon UPC Codes

Also similar to UPCs, the type of EAN you use depends on various factors such as product category and product distribution channel.
 

Where to Buy UPC Codes for Amazon

 
Amazon requires every seller to register a GTIN with each product listing available on their marketplace. Amazon sellers can either buy legitimized UPC codes directly from GS1 or purchase through a reseller.

There are various UPC and EAN resellers out there who will try to sell replicated UPC codes to satisfy Amazon’s UPC code requirements. Many sellers purchase their UPC codes from third-party websites due to their cheaper prices — but using resold Amazon UPC codes can cause more harm than good in the long run.

If you don’t purchase your UPC code from GS1 and purchase a cheap replicated UPC code that doesn’t match the information found in the GS1 database, Amazon can remove your listing and potentially suspend your seller account.
From Amazon:

“We verify the authenticity of product UPCs by checking the GS1 database. UPCs that do not match the information provided by GS1 will be considered invalid. We recommend obtaining your UPCs directly from GS1 (and not from other third parties selling UPC licenses) to ensure the appropriate information is reflected in the GS1 database.”

As our in-house Amazon expert David Cooley advises, “It’s important to stay up to date on Amazon’s policies around UPCs.”

The bottom line – since GS1 is the creator of the GTIN system, they are the only legitimate resource to check barcode validity. 

If you are buying a reseller’s UPC code off of a third-party website, that UPC code was probably originally assigned to another company. If those replicated UPC codes belong to another company, Amazon won’t associate your company with your products.
 

How to Buy a UPC Code for Amazon

 
GS1 lays out 4 steps to buying your UPC code for Amazon.

Step 1: Determine if you should buy a single GTIN or apply for a GS1 company prefix

GS1 US offers two options. For small companies that only sell a few products, there is a single Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) option now. This means each UPC or barcode is only $30 with no renewal fee. However, for those businesses that see their product lines growing over the next few years, the Company Prefix option might be best.
 
The first six to nine digits of your barcode are your company prefix. The company prefix is a unique identifier of the product’s manufacturer. As a supplier, your company prefix will remain the same on each barcode for all of your different products. Each product that you offer will then be assigned a unique product code that follows your company prefix.

Amazon UPC Codes

Image by Bar Code Graphics

Again, make sure that your single GTIN or company prefix can be traced back to your business by buying your prefix and Amazon UPC codes directly from GS1. To purchase your UPC codes from GS1, you need to fill out an application on their website. 

Figure out how many barcodes you’ll need. How many unique products do you have? Each combination of size and color variation needs its own barcode. You can use GS1’s barcode estimator to get a more accurate picture. 

Next, figure out which pricing plan makes the most sense for you. GS1 offers a variety of pricing tiers based on how many different barcodes you plan to purchase:

Step 2: Identify each product with a GTIN

The next step is to assign your products unique product numbers, aka GTINs

Your GTIN should be a combination of your company prefix, a unique product number that you assign, and a “check digit” that helps make sure that your GTIN is created correctly.

On Amazon, UPC codes must always total 11 digits, plus that “check digit.” Your “check digit” is calculated by GS1 based on the previous 11 digits of your barcode.

Step 3: Determine your barcode type

The barcode type you need depends on where your product will be sold or scanned. Products scanned at a brick-and-mortar point-of-sale need different barcodes than products scanned in a distribution center or a warehouse.

  • If you sell in both brick-and-mortar stores and online, you should use the same GTIN online and in physical stores. 
  • If you use Amazon FBA to fulfill your Amazon orders, Amazon requires that you place UPC barcodes on your items. FBA uses barcodes to track inventory throughout the order fulfillment process. 

 
Because we’re talking about barcodes for Amazon, we’ll skip to the online and ecommerce retail store requirements. 

Step 4: Place barcode on your product

Last, but definitely not least: put your barcode on your product! 

If you haven’t packaged or designed your labels for your product, you can obtain a digital barcode file directly from GS1 to incorporate it into the packaging and labeling of your product. 

Almost all manufacturers will be comfortable with the idea of working with UPC codes and understand how to incorporate them from a digital file. If you have already packaged and labeled your products, you can order adhesive barcode labels to stick onto your product or packaging.

As an Amazon seller, it’s important to place your barcode in a place that is visible and scannable. 

Avoid placing your barcode on the edge of the package, and make sure there’s enough white space around the barcode so it’s scannable. Make sure that the barcodes you use are printed clearly, sized correctly, and match the information on the GS1 database.
 

Amazon UPC Requirements

 
Amazon has specific requirements for sellers when it comes to UPC code placement. The easier you make it for FBA warehouses to accept, process, and track your inventory, the better set up for success you’ll be.

Can Amazon’s Brand Registry be Used as an Alternative to UPCs?

Previously, if you enrolled your brand in Amazon’s Brand Registry, Amazon would provide you with a GCID (Global Catalog Identifier) that you could use as the unique identifier in your listing, in place of a UPC. 

But, as of April 17, 2018, GCIDs can no longer be used in place of a UPC, EAN, JAN, or ISBN to create ASINs. If your brand has been approved for the Brand Registry program and you don’t have UPCs, EANs, JANs, or ISBNs for your products, apply for GTIN exemption.

Looking for an agency to assist you with your Amazon selling endeavors? Check out our Amazon agency buying guide to learn how to choose the right agency for you – and why Tinuiti might be that agency.

Fees for getting products

Can someone list all the fees that need paying from buying from a overseas manufacturer to when the item is sold. From start to finish.

Answer:

Pre Launch:
Product design
Alibaba sample + Shipping
Logo design
First delivery Stock
Website Domain
Product photography
Duty/VAT on goods coming from outside the EU
Cost of shipping to Fulfillment centre

Post Launch:
PPC / Social Ads
Amazon FBA fee
20% VAT
Income Tax on profits
Accountant

Label printer

Thinking of getting a label printer, I use apple laptop. FBA bar code label and UPS packaging label, I’am getting conflicting reviews, DYMO 450 4X and Zebra GK420d What’s everyone using?

Answer: I use a Dymo 450. It’s lasted me for years, never had any problems with it. It’s a workhorse.

Zebra 420. Works great. Got second one for different label size so I don’t have to change rolls all the time.

 I was looking at the Brother QL 1110NWB. It has really good reviews and no issues hooking up wirelessly. It is a bit on the pricey side though.

Ressel items bough on Amazon

 I bought something on amazon and have too many. Instead of sending it back and paying shipping and customs, can I add it to my seller’s product list and sell these few items on Amazon?

Answer: I have done this before on some items that I purchased by accident and did not want to bother the poor seller with a return. Worked well for me, actually did only loose a few pennies. I am a seller myself, so I know the trouble with returns.Hide or report this

Barcode labels

Where does everyone get their barcode labels for items? Any specific brands or size you like to use? 

Answer: the best ones are Avery 5160

Variations and parent child listings

Can I create variations or parent/child items from currently listed items? I have some figures that I want to have show on each page in variations, but not sure if I have to re-create the wheel and ASIN’s, etc. or how/if it affects current inventory in stock?

Answer: with flat file upload.

Curse words

Do you know if amazon has any guidelines against products that have cursing? For example, a t shirt that has the F word on it? Will they block it from being a sponsored product etc?

Answer: None are allowd in product pictures

Non-Amazon sales channel

It says two of my sales today were from a non-Amazon sales channel – anyone know what this means?

Hasn’t been updated on the units sold on the seller app but the orders have been removed from my inventory

Answer: Affiliate is when someone external has promoted your product. If they link it on a website , social media or you tube. They will get a commission from the sale.

Irish sole trader

I am going to register as Irish sole trader company to sell on Amazon FBA at the beginning.
In the future, if my business will grow I would like to change to LTD.

What do you think? Should I expect any problems during changing my business to LTD on Amazon?

Do you think that Sole Trader on the beginning would be a good idea? Does it matter for the potential suppliers?

Would not my account be blocked then? Will I still be able to sell on Amazon as a sole trader until change to LTD?

Answer: There is no issue changing from Sole to Limited Company, however as you are changing legal entity it can take Amazon months to do, so bear that in mind.

You request amazon to change your account, you don’t touch any of the account details, so until they do you continue trading on that account.

The switch from sole trader to Ltd co. Went very smoothly with Amazon for me but I have heard of some awful experiences. 

How to add a variation to a product

How do you add a variation to a product that has been selling for 6 months and now I want to add a new variation to that?
What would be the process to create the new variation listing so that it appears together on the page with the old product as a variation ?

Answer: It can be down via a flat flat file. You need to fill in all the details and upload it and wait 15/20mins and it should work. Is a bit tricky but once you know how to do it you’ll get the hang of it.