Types of Barcodes

EAN-13

 

Name: EAN-13

Also known as:
GTIN-13, Retail Barcode, European Article Number

Encodable digits:
 0-9

Length: 13 digits

Purpose:
 Identifying unique retail products at the point of sale

European Article Numbers (EAN barcodes) comprise 13 digits. They are used worldwide on all retail products except books and magazines. They are the most widely used barcodes globally, except in the USA and Canada, where UPC-A (Universal Product Code) barcodes are more common. In New Zealand, the EAN-13 is probably the barcode you need if you have products you wish to stock at a retail store.

Each EAN-13 is product-specific and encoded into a barcode image. This means that when the barcode is scanned into store systems, price and inventory data related to your product is recorded by the retailer. A different EAN-13 number, therefore, is required for each unique product.

 

UPC-A

 

Name: UPC-A

Also known as:
 Universal Product Code, Retail Barcode, GTIN-12

Encodable digits:
 0-9

Length: 12 digits

Purpose:
 Identifying unique retail products at the point of sale

12-digit UPC Barcodes are used predominantly in the USA and Canada on all retail products, except for books and magazines. UPC barcodes predate EAN-13 codes and started appearing in stores in the USA in the 1970s. If you are selling in the US or Canada, you likely want to use a UPC-A code rather than an EAN-13 code.

 

EAN-8

 

Name: EAN-8

Also known as:
 European Article Number 8

Encodable digits:
 0-9

Length: 8 digits

Purpose:
 Used for small products that cannot fit an EAN-13

A smaller globally unique barcode intended for VERY SMALL products – difficult to obtain and only available from GS1 (a membership organisation). EAN-8 barcodes are only 8 digits long – this means that there is a limited number of them, and hence GS1 guard them carefully. So to obtain these, you need to submit proof that your product is very small and wait to see if GS1 approve this.

 

ITF-14

 

Name: ITF-14

Also known as:
 TUN, Carton Code, GTIN-14

Encodable digits:
 0-9

Length: 14 digits

Purpose:
 This is a carton code. Retailers use it to streamline their inwards goods.

ITF-14 Carton Codes are created from EAN-13 and UPC-A barcodes. They are only used in warehouses on cartons containing a specific quantity of the product barcode represents. These codes are not for products that are sold individually at a retail level. For example, a case of wine sold as a single unit would need a retail barcode. You may need an ITF-14 code if you have a shipping carton full of wine bottles taken out and sold individually after they arrive at the shop.

 

ISBN

 

Name: ISBN

Also known as:
 Book Barcode, International Standard Book Number, ISBN Barcode

Encodable digits:
 0-9

Length: 13 digits

Purpose:
 For selling books at the retail level

International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN) are unique numbers assigned to a book. ISBNs start with 978 and are distributed by ISBN agencies in each country (see isbn-international.org/agency). They can also be obtained through independent publishing agencies such as bookisbn.org.uk, used for self-publishing authors.

ISBN Barcodes are barcodes generated based on an ISBN. Each book has a unique ISBN, so this ensures no two ISBN barcodes will be the same, allowing retailers to easily keep track of each book when stocking and selling it.

 

ISSN

 

Name: ISSN

Also known as:
 International Standard Serial Number, Magazine Barcode, ISSN Barcode

Encodable digits:
 0-9

Length: 13 digits plus 2- or 5-digit supplement

Purpose:
 ISSN barcodes are for magazines being sold over the checkout

Magazine barcodes are called ISSN barcodes, and they are based on a unique ISSN number that each magazine is assigned. If you intend to publish and sell a magazine, you will need an ISSN number obtained from the ISSN International Center. Once you have your number, it can be converted by a barcode company such as ourselves into a 13-digit unique retail barcode.

 

Code 39

 

Name: Code 39

Also known as:
 Alpha 39, USD-3, Type-39, Code 3-9

Encodable digits:
 Alphanumeric characters plus some special symbols

Length: Variable

Purpose:
 Asset labels, name badges, membership cards, etc. Any closed system that needs unique identifiers

Code 39 barcodes are used for internal unique numbering. This makes them appropriate for asset labelling, membership cards, library books or any other internal item that needs to be tracked or managed. Nobody is regulating the uniqueness of these barcodes (unlike retail barcodes), so they cannot be used outside of a closed system. Code 39 barcodes have a low data density, which means each character they contain takes many bars and space. Due to this, these codes are not suited to very long strings of characters.

 

Code 128

 

Name: Code 128

Also known as:
 No alternative names

Encodable digits:
 All ASCII characters (128 characters)

Length: Variable

Purpose:
 Like Code 39 barcodes, these codes can be used for asset labels, name badges, membership cards, etc. Any closed system that needs unique identifiers

Code 128 barcodes are very similar to Code 39 in that they are unregulated codes suited for internal use. The main difference between the two is that Code 128s have a higher data density (more characters can be encoded in a smaller space) and can contain any ASCII character instead of just alphanumeric and some symbols.

 

Code 11

 

Name: Code 11

Also known as:
 USD-8

Encodable digits:
 0-9 and – (dash)

Length: Variable

Purpose:
 Primarily used in telecommunications

Code 11 barcodes are relatively simple, with a limited range of encodable digits. They are high density, which means each character doesn’t take up much space. Telecom companies most often use code 11 barcodes to identify equipment and other important business assets.

 

Code 93

 

Name: Code 93

Also known as:
 USS Code 93, USS 93, Code 9/3

Encodable digits:
 The same as code 39, so alphanumeric characters plus some special symbols

Length: Variable

Purpose:
 Internal use (like Code 39 and 128

The Code 93 barcode is an updated version of Code 39, with more efficient encoding, more reliable scanning and a greater variety of characters. The uses are the same as Code 39, and Canada Post uses Code 93s for internal use.

 

GS1-128

 

Name: GS1-128

Also known as:
 UCC-128, EAN-128

Encodable digits:
 Numeric characters

Length: Variable, even number of characters preferred

Purpose:
 Can encode an enormous variety of details about a product shipment

The GS1-128 is a subset of the Code-128 barcodes mentioned above. However, these GS1 barcodes include only numbers, unlike the regular 128 codes. They can encode various product details, such as expiry date, packaging date, batch number, net weight, and more. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GS1-128 for details.

 

SSCC

 

Name: SSCC

Also known as:
 Serial Shipping Container Code

Encodable digits:
 Numeric

Length: 18 digits

Purpose:
 Used on tertiary level of shipping (pallets etc.), these codes communicate the company and shipment number

Serial Shipping Container Codes are a shipping code that communicates which company a container, pallet or outer carton has come from. These are different from ITF-14 container codes because they cover a shipment with several different products (and therefore EAN-13 codes), unlike ITF-14 codes, which are matched 1:1 with EAN codes. These SSCC codes are iterated by one for each order, so a retailer’s inwards good will know they are receiving the 20th shipment from Generic Company (for example).

 

Codabar

 

Name: Codabar

Also known as:
Codeabar, Ames Code, Code 2 of 7, Monarch, USD-4

Encodable Digits:
 Numeric digits and some special symbols

Length: Variable

Purpose:
 Used for asset tracking, e.g. library books, the Codabar can function even on suboptimal printing material

The Codabar is a somewhat outdated barcode found in some dated internal inventory systems such as libraries. These codes are designed to function even when printed on low-quality paper or created with a mechanical printer (typewriter). It is similar to Code 39 but less versatile in what it can contain.

 

QR Code

QR code images

 

Name: QR Code

Also known as:
 Quick Response Code, Matrix Barcode

Encodable digits:
 Alphanumeric and symbols

Length: Variable, more characters = more complex code

Purpose:
 Commonly used to encode a website URL, QR codes are extremely versatile and can contain almost anything

QR Codes have become a very common feature of marketing, advertising and communicating digitally stored information through a physical object (the code). These barcodes can store more data than traditional 2D codes and are easy to scan with a smartphone.