GTIN’s are Global Trade Identification Numbers, used to give items, packages and services unique identification numbers. These refer to any barcode numbers used in retail as part of the GS1 system. These could be GTIN-13’s, GTIN-12’s or GTIN-14’s.
By encoding the GTIN in a barcode, this number can then be read with a barcode scanner. The GTIN can also be associated with further information in a product databases, using the GTIN as the unique identifier.
When an item is numbered with a GTIN it gets a unique item number that should never be the same as a GTIN from another supplier. This means that two items can never be confused with each other which makes it easier to order and generate reports such as sales statistics. Each level in a package hierarchy – consumer package, outer package, and pallet – should be identified with its own unique GTIN.
A GTIN can be 14, 13, 12 or 8 digits.
- GTIN‑13 are the main international numbers used to identify items that are sold at retail level. When encoded as a barcode, they are encoded in EAN13 format.
- GTIN‑12 are common in the USA. They are used in the same way as GTIN‑13 as a unique item number. When encoded as barcodes, they are encoded in UPC-A format.
- GTIN‑8 is used in exceptional cases to number small consumer packages with limited space for a barcode. Hence the GTIN‑8 is created as a smaller EAN8 format barcode. These GTIN-8 numbers are only available for GS1 directly, and are difficult to obtain (as they are in short supply).
- GTIN‑14 is used to number items that are not sold at retail level – eg outer cartons, boxes and pallets. The GTIN‑14 number is created based on the GTIN-13 or GTIN-12 number on the retail products within the carton.
A GTIN can also be combined with a serial number to create a Serialised GTIN (SGTIN).