Choosing International Barcodes
What are international barcodes and how are they used?
The term international barcodes refers to either UPC-A or EAn-13 format barcodes which are used on retail products for establishing the price of an item at the checkout. They are also used by retailers for establishing reordering information by tracking the stock.
International barcodes like this are managed by GS1 who ensure that each number is only applied to one product to help ensure that there are no double ups in stores. GS1 also supply barcode numbers, but they charge high recurring fees which make the process expensive. Barcode resellers sell barcodes that initially come from the same system as GS1 numbers for a one-off cost. The reason this is possible is that the barcode numbers they sell were initially sold for a one-off cost by the predecessor of GS1-US. When GS1 tried to retrospectively charge license fees a court battle ensued which eventually proved that the numbers could be bought and sold without the need for any kind of fees.
What to buy and where to get it?
The difference between EAN-13 and UPC-A format barcodes can be seen here – this should help you decide which format to go for it you don’t already know. Other than that the only decision that needs to be made is whether to go through a reseller or through GS1. Generally people prefer to opt for reseller barcodes (if they know about them) as they are much cheaper than GS1 barcodes, however there are a few restrictions overseas. Please see barcode acceptance for details on this.