How to Get a Bar Code

So, you have a product, and you want to be able to sell it through retailers.  Now you’re wondering how to get a bar code, or more specifically, a Universal Product Code (UPC).

UPCA-KDMA UPC is a unique 12-digit number that can be linked to your product information (name, description, price, etc).  The retailer will ask you to fill out a product information form with your company information, product information, and the UPC bar code number.  The retailer will put this information into their computer.  When your product is purchased and the bar code is scanned, the UPC number brings up your specific product information.  This allows the retailer to track the sales of your product within their inventory system, and to credit you for the sale.

UPC bar codes can be used for any retail product in the U.S., with the exception of magazines or books, which use ISBN numbers.  Since bar codes are used for tracking inventory, you will need a different bar code for each product, and also for each variety of the same product (sizes, colors, etc.)  UPCs will work anywhere that barcodes are used, meaning most of the modern world.

Although bar codes can be generated for personal or private use, for bar codew to work in the world of commerce, it must originate from GS1.  GS1 is a not-for-profit association that sets international standards for bar codes and commerce.

There are two different ways to get a bar code for your product(s):

Option 1 Become a member of GS1 and lease your bar codes directly from

ist2_11993264-barcode-scanFor this option, you must apply to GS1 for your own company prefix, which will become the first part of any UPC code used for your company’s products.

You will probably have to go this route if you need a large number of UPC numbers (in the hundreds or more), or if you are going to sell your products through a major retailer such as Walmart, Krogers or Macy's (they require a company to have its own company prefix).

This option is the more expensive option, since the fees start at about $250 and go up into the thousands. The GS1 organizations also charge annual renewal fees for their codes.  For a small or start-up business, this option often proves to be challenging because of the costs.  

Option 2 - Purchase UPC codes from a vendor who has surplus codes.

about_imgSome companies on the Internet, such as Bar Codes Talk., have purchased bar codes in bulk from GS1 (or, as it was formerly known, the UCC), and will resell UPC codes to you for a much more modest price.  This may be a better option for small to medium sized business, those dealing with small or independent retailers, those selling on Amazon, or those with only a few products to sell.

While a few of the major retailers (like Walmart or Macy’s) fuss about this, there are a multitude of instances where buying bar codes this way has proven to be a viable, and affordable, option for businesses.   

You can find many bar code resellers online. We’ve looked at several of them, and are pleased to recommend Bar Codes Talk.  This company offers low prices, with no annual fees or hidden charges.  You receive your unique bar codes instantly, with both an Excel and PDF Spreadsheet of your numbers.  You will receive the UPC as well as the EAN code for one price, as well as a certificate of authenticity and agreement.  Barcodes purchased from Bar Codes Talk will not expire, and you can be assured that they are unique to your products.  The artwork for the UPC code is also included.  Bar Codes Talk has sold over 100 million bar codes and has been in business since 1993. 

When putting your bar code on the product for the first time, it is a good idea to test the scanability of the code with a few different bar code readers. 

Bar Codes Talk, Inc. offers a variety of file types to choose from including EPS and JPEG.  They email the bar code art  directly to you or your printer. 

To get a bar code click here and go to


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History of the Bar Code

A ruling against the UCC pertaining to licensing fees for members who purchased their bar codes prior to August 2002

Website by George Laurer, inventor of the UPC code including authenticated UPC providers.


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