What Is A GTIN?
GTIN is the acronym for “Global Trade Item Number” and the term is used by the GS1 standards to identify individual items and levels of packaging. A GTIN is a number that is used to identify “something” that can be purchased, sold, or put into inventory. This includes individual items that can be purchased by a consumer as well as cases of items that could be purchased by a retailer and moved within their supply chain. In short, a GTIN is an umbrella term used to refer to items and cases that may need to be identified with a GTIN barcode, such as a UPC barcode.
Up until June 2005, there were related but disconnected country-based standard-numbering organizations. In the United States, a standards organization called the Uniform Code Council (UCC) administered the guidelines and licensing for 12-digit UPC barcodes. Non-US countries had individual organizations called European Article Number (EAN) offices, which handled identification standards for EAN-8 and EAN-13 barcodes.
Global manufacturers and international retailers were challenged by the varying lengths of the identifiers and minor localized differences in standards verbiage. Consequently, the UCC and EAN offices merged into a single global standards entity called GS1 and each country has a local GS1 office (ie. GS1 US).
Because UPCs and EAN were essentially not changing, they created the term GTIN to represent the GS1 standardized item identifier. One of the major hurdles accomplished with the global merge was the reprogramming of point-of-sale scanners in the US. Although 12-digit UPCs (Universal Product Codes) were scannable worldwide, the 13-digit EAN could not fit into the database structures programmed in the US scanning environments. To prepare for the merger and introduction of GTINs, the Sunrise 2005 initiative was established to help set a timeline.
A UPC is a form of GTIN. The GTIN data structure is 14 digits. In databases, two zeros (00) preceded the 12-digit data of a UPC to fill the GTIN data requirements. Real-world example: When a vendor is setting up their product information on Amazon or Google Merchant Center, there is a field for a product’s unique GTIN. Companies in the US would normally use their 12-digit UPC. If your company does not yet have UPC barcodes, please call us at 888-540-6885 or visit GS1 Barcode Service.
UPC (GTIN) identification is used by a variety of industries and in some cases there may be minor alterations and requirements associated with barcode marking. For example, certain states have specific requirements for expanded product data for CBD products.
GS1 is the global standards body for item identification. Each country has its own local office that administers the licensing of Company Prefixes and GTINs. In the US, the local GS1 office is called GS1 US. Even though GS1 US is technically a monopoly, the GS1 system does provide trading partners the assurance of globally unique item identifiers. It is for this reason that retailers and marketplaces, such as Amazon, require suppliers to obtain GS1 UPC barcodes.
This is commonly done to correct typographical errors and strategy changes. The Brand Name can be changed for a “In Use” product. Based on the impact of the change for your trading partners, you may want to consider issuing a new GTIN. Please note that the trade item will use up an available GTIN.
No. GS1 US only provides the identifiers (GTINs to build the numeric Universal Product Code. Unfortunately, many new companies incorrectly associate a barcode with a UPC, so the GS1 sites use ‘Apply for Barcode” and this often causes confusion.
The first digit of a GTIN-14 is called an “indicator digit” and is only found in case identification. If another case that contains the same trade item is created, the new GTIN-14 will start with an indicator digit of “2” and so on. GTIN-14s can have indicator digits up to the “8”.
Aside from assigning company prefixes, the GS1 creates the global standards for item and logistical barcoding. The GS1 General Specification covers all the rules for allocating numbers. As of January 2019, GS1 guidelines do not allow for UPC (GTIN) reuse. Click Here To Learn More.