The basics of the GS1 GTIN™
Are GS1 GTIN™ accepted worldwide?
GS1 GTIN™ are accepted all over the world.
Organisations in over 150 countries use the GS1 system, and more than 6 billion barcodes containing a GS1 GTIN™ number are scanned every day!
GS1 is a global, neutral, not-for-profit organisation that serves over 2 million businesses in more than 20 industries.
What is a GS1 GTIN™?
A GS1 GTIN™ is the number you see under the barcode of a product. As a product identifier, it is unique, global and verifiable within the GS1 system.
To be useful and helpful, product identifiers must be unique, verifiable and global - and that is exactly what a GS1 GTIN™ is.
Your product’s GS1 GTIN™ will be different from the billions of other GS1 GTIN™ already issued to other products, and it will be recognised by all major retailers, supermarkets and marketplaces around the world.
The GS1 GTIN™ is sometimes known as “U.P.C”, “EAN” or barcode. The letters G-T-I-N originally stood for Global Trade Item Number.
The various digits of a GS1 GTIN™ indicate the GS1 Member Organisation from which the GS1 GTIN™ was licensed, the entity (often: the manufacturer) which applied the number to the item, the item number, and a check digit to verify the GS1 GTIN’s structure.
GS1 GTINs™ are unique in the GS1 system and are searchable in Verified by GS1 www.gs1.org/verified-by-GS1, the publicly accessible GS1 global database that is used and trusted by many marketplaces around the world to verify the identity of the product you want to sell.
Only a GS1 Member Organisation can provide you with a GS1 GTIN™ and guarantee their uniqueness within the GS1 system.
Want to know more about GS1 GTIN™? Watch our YouTube video "What is GTIN™" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8PBEkyRyQ8.
What is a product identifier?
A product identifier is just what it sounds like: it’s a way to clearly identify a product for sale.
Product identifiers are usually a series of numbers, or letters and numbers.
For product identifiers to be useful and helpful in today’s world, they must be unique, and they must be verifiable, everywhere in the world, forever, and no matter whether the item is for sale online or in physical stores.
And that is exactly what the GS1 GTIN™ offers: your GS1 GTIN™ will be different to the billions of GS1 GTIN™ we’ve already issued, recognised by all major retailers, supermarkets and marketplaces around the world and they will be verifiable thanks to Verified by GS1, our global database.
1 GTIN = 1 product = worldwide
How do I get a GS1 GTIN™?
GS1 GTINs™ are only available from GS1.
Only GS1 can provide you with a GS1 GTIN™ for your product. Only GS1 guarantee that a GS1 GTIN™ is unique and verifiable in the GS1 system, everywhere in the world, forever.
You must join a local GS1 Member Organisation to get a GS1 GTIN™.
Find GS1 Switzerland here: https://www.gs1.ch/en
Find GS1 Switzerland to know more about getting a GS1 GTIN: https://www.gs1.ch/en/barcodes-standards/barcodes
Why do I need a GS1 GTIN™ to sell my products?
Many marketplaces (and retailers) require a GS1 GTIN™ to sell products online.
If you are a product’s brand owner or manufacturer, many marketplaces and retailers will require you to get a GS1 GTIN™ from GS1.
If you are reselling or distributing a product, many marketplaces and retailers will require you to provide that product’s existing GS1 GTIN™. To do that, you may need to contact the product’s brand owner or manufacturer and ask them.
Marketplaces rely on GS1 GTIN™ to manage their product catalogues, enrich product data and detect counterfeit products. Marketplaces have found that requiring GS1 GTINs™ ultimately enhances the customer experience and drives traffic to your products.
The GS1 GTIN™ is unique and it is searchable in Verified by GS1 (www.gs1.org/verified-by-GS1), the publicly accessible GS1 global database that is used and trusted by many marketplaces around the world to verify the identity of the product you want to sell.
If a marketplace or retailer is asking you to indicate a GS1 GTIN™, contact your local GS1 Member Organisation: https://www.gs1.org/standards/get-barcodes
Here you can get your GTIN: https://gtin.gs1.ch/en/order-new-gtin
What is the difference between a GS1 GTIN™ and other product identifiers I can purchase online?
Only a GS1 GTIN™ is unique and verifiable in the GS1 system, everywhere in the world, forever.
The GS1 GTINs™ you get from GS1 are unique within the GS1 system that is used by two million companies around the world.
GS1 will never issue the same GS1 GTIN™ twice. GS1 also does not allow the transfer or (re)sale of GS1 GTINs™.
GS1 GTINs™ are included in our GS1 database, which is accessible to everyone through Verified by GS1 (https://www.gs1.org/services/verified-by-gs1/). Many marketplaces use this database to check if your GS1 GTIN™ is linked to your company and/or product.
Numbers sold by other parties (parties not listed on our GS1 website) are
either not numbers in the GS1 System, or
numbers originally issued by GS1 to a specific party that have been transferred or (re)sold.
These numbers will either not be in our verifiable database or, if they have been transferred or (re)sold against GS1 guidelines, they will appear together with the data of the original party that licensed the number and not with your data.
The numbers sold by other parties sometimes can overlap with GS1 numbers, which can create confusion. GS1 cannot be held responsible if marketplaces do not accept these numbers.
Sometimes organisations outside GS1 use our logo and brand without authorisation to sell their numbers. The only way to be sure you are getting a GS1 GTIN™ is to go through our GS1.org website to find your local GS1 Member Organisation. Only a licensed GS1 Member Organisation can provide you with GS1 GTINs™ and guarantee their uniqueness in the GS1 database.
Are there advantages and benefits using GS1 GTIN™ for e-commerce / marketplaces?
A GS1 GTIN™ when selling your product online will increase your chance of sales by providing better product visibility, a better buying experience and more efficient operations.
The main advantages and benefits of using GS1 GTINs™ for online sales are:
• Meet the requirements of marketplaces using GS1 GTINs™.
• Drive more traffic to your products with better visibility on Google and other search engines.
• Speed up the listing process for your products.
The GS1 GTIN™ offers many other advantages: as it used in all sales channels globally, it helps the expansion of your business across multiple channels, marketplaces, physical retail stores, locally and internationally.
We also keep the numbers in our GS1 database accessible to everyone through Verified by GS1 (https://www.gs1.org/services/verified-by-gs1/). Anyone can check if your GS1 GTIN™ is linked to your company and/or product and that’s exactly what many marketplaces do before they authorise your product for listing.
From the consumer’s perspective, a GS1 GTIN™ improves the buying experience, makes products easier to find and reduces the risk of receiving the wrong product.
Why do I need to provide product information to create a GS1 GTIN™ to sell my products?
Your product information will be added to the GS1 global database and shared with retailers and marketplaces around the world.
Marketplaces and retailers want a trusted and reliable source of certain company and product information. They also want to ensure that the numbers they use in their systems are truly unique and follow GS1 standards. The information YOU provide about YOUR product can be trusted by marketplaces.
GS1 offers a service called Verified by GS1 that gives marketplaces and retailers access to a global GS1 database with information about every item that has been given a GS1 GTIN™.
By getting that information directly from you, we aim to ensure that the global GS1 database is accurate and reliable.
Learn more about Verified by GS1 service: https://www.gs1.ch/en/barcodes-standards/barcode-checking-service
Why do I need to join GS1 to get a GTIN™?
Joining GS1 is the only way to get a GS1 GTIN™
You must join a GS1 Member Organisation to get a GS1 GTIN™.
Two million businesses, large and small, have already joined GS1. These two million business trust GS1 to provide unique, verifiable, global identification for more than 1 billion products. We hope you will too.
- Get membership at GS1 Switzerland: https://www.gs1.ch/en/barcodes-standards/membership
- Want to know more about GS1 GTIN™? Watch our YouTube video "What is GTIN™" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8PBEkyRyQ8.
Why do I have to pay to join GS1?
Being a member of GS1 brings you a whole range of benefits and services.
GS1 administers the issuance of the GS1 identifiers worldwide and manages the database that addresses specific needs of marketplace industry. Your fee supports these services and valued enhancements to improve business processes with your trading partners and reduce industry costs.
In addition, you can join expert groups, benefit of our network covering 8600 companies in Switzerland – all this is included in our membership with GS1 Switzerland. Moreover we offer know-how and educational programms for your organisation, customized to your specific needs (special rates for members)
How to use GS1 GTIN™ correctly
What are the GS1 GTIN™ rules?
The GS1 GTIN™ rules, also known as the GS1 GTIN™ Management Standard, are guidelines and rules to follow when assigning a new GS1 GTIN™.
Respecting the GS1 GTIN™ rules is essential to ensuring your product is uniquely and correctly identified in the GS1 system.
Want to learn more about the GS1 GTIN™ rules? Consult our online decision tool, or our GS1 GTIN™ management standard.
GS1 = 1 world = 1 system
Who can assign a GS1 GTIN™ to a product?
Generally, the creator or manufacturer of a product assigns its GS1 GTIN™.
If you are the creator of the product, you are responsible for assigning a GS1 GTIN™ to your product.
If you are selling a product created or manufactured by another company, you must use the existing GS1 GTIN™ that has been assigned to that product. If you don’t know it, you should contact the product’s supplier or manufacturer to find its GS1 GTIN™.
You can never add a GS1 GTIN™ to a product that already has one. Occasionally, you may get a product without GS1 GTIN™. In that case, if you are willing to take responsibility for the trade item declarations, you are allowed to assign the GS1 GTIN™.
How many GS1 GTIN™ do I need for my product?
Each product needs its own unique GS1 GTIN™.
Every individual product requires its own GS1 GTIN™ and every variation of your product
(e.g. each size, each colour) requires its unique GS1 GTIN™.
In other words, each item in the image here would need its own unique GS1 GTIN™. This is so that when a customer orders a particular size or colour, the marketplace knows which one to send.
One GS1 GTIN™ can only be assigned to one product. However, it can be used unlimited times on the same product. For instance, the GS1 GTIN™ of a cola-bottle is unique to that size of cola-bottle but is printed millions of times every day on millions of bottles.
Unsure about assigning a GS1 GTIN™ to your product? Consult our online "decision tool", or our GS1 GTIN™ management standard.
How many GS1 GTIN™ do I need, when I have a product with many sizes and colours?
Each product variation needs its own GS1 GTIN™.
“Variations” means each size, each colour, each combination of sizes and colours.
For example, if you sell a one-size T-shirt in three colours, you're selling three variations, so you need to assign three different GS1 GTINs™. If you use the same number for all the T-shirts, you won't know which colour to send to your customer.
Not sure if a product needs a new GS1 GTIN™? Consult our online "decision tool", or our GS1 GTIN™ management standard.
Can a product have more than one GS1 GTIN™?
No, each product needs its own unique GS1 GTIN™.
Each product needs its own unique GS1 GTIN™, and only one GS1 GTIN™. Identifying your product and its variants (like size and colour) helps your customers, your partners and others in the supply chain recognise it, both online and in-store.
Can I reuse a GS1 GTIN™ for another product?
No, you can never reuse a GS1 GTIN™ once you've assigned it to a product.
A GS1 GTIN™ is linked to one single product, so you can't use the same GS1 GTIN™ for another product.
Uniquely and unequivocally identifying a product helps your customers, partners and others in the supply chain to recognize it, both online and in-store, forever.
Can I still use my GS1 GTIN™ if I stop being a member of GS1?
No, you cannot continue to use your GS1 GTINs™ if you are no longer a member in good standing of the issuing GS1 Member Organisation.
If you are no longer complying with the terms and conditions of your GS1 Member Organisation (e.g. you no longer pay the fees), you may not use the related GS1 GTINs™ anymore. Note that the data in our database about your GS1 GTINs™ will be limited and no longer up to date. The number will be marked as ‘inactive’ which means that, for example, a marketplace will not be able to check the full extent of the data it needs.
For GS1 GTINs™ made into a barcode, printed on a physical product and already in circulation on existing inventory, please reach out to your local GS1 Member Organisation for guidance.
Can I give or sell my unused GS1 GTIN™ to someone else ?
No, you can never give, sell, or transfer in any way a GS1 GTIN™ to another company.
Each GS1 GTIN™ is persistently associated with your company.
When you get a GS1 GTIN™ from a GS1 Member Organisation, you accept and sign specific terms and conditions, which specify that you cannot give or sell your GS1 GTINs™ to another company.
The GS1 standards provide for very limited exceptions where a transfer is possible, e.g. due to a split or merger of a business in going concern.
In any of these cases, you always must inform your local GS1 Member Organisation and provide proof so they can ensure our records are accurate. Please reach out to GS1 Switzerland for further information
Achieve more with the GS1 GTIN™
I am selling bundles or multipacks. Should I assign the bundle it’s own GS1 GTIN™?
If you’re selling a bundle defined by the manufacturer, that bundle already has a GS1 GTIN™ that you must use.
If you’re creating and selling a new bundle, you need to determine if the items are physically attached or not. If not, it’s a virtual bundle and doesn’t need a GS1 GTIN™ If yes, it’s a physical bundle and needs a GS1 GTIN™ assigned by its creator.
In all cases, the individual items in the bundle must have their own GS1 GTIN™.
See the decision tree here for more details.
I started selling in a physical store and now I plan to sell online. Can I use the same GS1 GTIN™?
Yes, the same GS1 GTIN™ uniquely and clearly identify your product whether you sell it online or in-store.
You have to keep the same GS1 GTIN™ number for your product, no matter where you sell it, online or in-store. That’s one of the big advantages of using GS1 GTINs!
Online, GS1 GTINs™ increase your product's visibility, help you meet marketplace requirements and speed up your listing process.
In-store, GS1 GTINs™ are used in many processes like procurement, warehouse management, checkout and more.
This is also valid vice-versa – if you started selling online and now sell in a physical store
Online = physical store = omni channel
I am going to start selling internationally. Can I use the same GS1 GTIN™?
Yes, GS1 GTINs™ uniquely and clearly identify your products everywhere in the world.
You must keep the same GS1 GTIN™ number for your product, no matter where in the world you plan to sell it. That’s one of the big advantages of using GS1 GTINs!
GS1 GTINs™ are used and recognised by brands, retailers and marketplaces in 150 countries around the world.
Switzerland = worldwide