A barcode (or bar code) is a unique sequence of digits that is used to identify an item or product. Most barcodes on retail products are in either EAN (13-digit) or UPC (12-digit) format. A barcode number can be turned into a barcode image (vertical black bars). When a barcode image is scanned at a checkout counter, the product information will appear on the checkout screen.
The UPC barcoding system was created in the 1970s by George J. Laurer (who worked for IBM). Mr Laurer presented his UPC barcode system to food industries in the USA and it was selected as a universal method to keep track of items and prices in inventory systems. Mr Laurer’s UPC system has since spread worldwide and is now the preferred international method for tracking products. Outside of the USA, the 13-digit EAN was chosen as a superset of the original 12-digit UPC codes used in America.
EAN-13 barcodes are 13-digit numbers used on retail products worldwide. The 12-digit UPC code is preferred in the USA, but in almost every other country worldwide EAN-13 barcodes are more common. The numbers we sell are EAN-13 codes (because these are the most common globally), however, if you require a UPC-12 code instead, that’s fine – just let us know after placing your order. Both EAN and UPC barcodes can be used in any country in the world.
We highly recommend that you get barcodes for your products, because more and more retailers are changing to a barcoding system. Although it is optional for retailers to use a barcode system (and barcode scanners) to process orders and keep track of their stock, the system is incredibly useful as it simplifies the sales process. For this reason, retailers are increasingly incorporating barcodes into their stores – and in the near future, you may find that some of your retailers are requiring you to put barcodes onto your products. If you put barcodes onto your products now, it will save you time in the future & it can also help you get your ‘foot in the door’ when approaching larger retailers with your products. Even if you don’t necessarily need a barcode right now, you may want to get a barcode anyway because having a barcode on your product will make your product look much more legitimate to retailers – and to anyone thinking about buying your product.
We recommend that you get a different barcode number for each different product, and product variation (eg. size, colour, design). This is because most retailers use barcodes to keep track of their stock – that way they know when they need to re-order a particular item.
For example, if a retail store is low in “red jacket in size M” and “blue jacket in size XL”, the shopkeeper can easily see this in their inventory system when they scan the barcodes of these items – they can then re-order more of these specific items – that way the retailer can avoid running out of a particular size or colour.
Some retail stores might accept your product even if you only put one barcode on it & ignore the different product variations (eg. different colours, sizes, designs), however, this will make it more difficult for your retailer to keep track of their stock. It will mean that the retailer will have to manually count the stock on their shelves to know when they need to re-order something – that is why it is much simpler for retailers if each product variation has its own barcode (then they can just scan the barcode & instantly see how much stock they have left).
Yes, the barcode numbers we supply can be used for any retail product (except books & magazines, because they require an ISBN or ISSN number). All retail products worldwide use an EAN or UPC barcode – and these are the type of barcodes that we sell.
Your EAN (or UPC) barcode will work in almost all retail stores worldwide – we only know of four exceptions (in Australia & the USA). The only retail companies that won’t accept our barcodes are Woolworths Australia & Super Retail Group (in Australia & NZ), and Kroger’s & Wal-mart (in the USA). These retailers will only accept barcodes that have come directly from GS1. Other than these four companies, to our knowledge, our barcodes are accepted by every other retail company worldwide. We have sold thousands of barcodes to customers throughout the world, and our barcodes are being used in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Pacific Islands, India etc without any problems.
Some retailers require barcode verification reports (particularly in Australia, NZ, and the USA). To our knowledge, we are the only barcode reseller that can supply independently accredited verification reports (done by an independent company). This means that our barcodes are accepted by more retail companies worldwide than any other bar code reseller. Note: the barcode images we create for ISBN or ISSN numbers (books & magazines) are accepted worldwide.
No, we cannot guarantee that all shops will accept our barcodes – no barcode company can guarantee this. Retailers have the right to have whatever barcoding requirements they want (ridiculous or not). However, we have sold thousands of barcodes to customers in over 120 countries since we opened in 2007.
We offer a company prefix to customers who buy 10, 100 or 1,000 barcodes at once- the length of the prefix is determined by the number of codes bought. Read more about how this works on our Company Prefix page.
No product or company information is contained in a barcode. The only link between a barcode and a product is formed on a retailer’s inventory & checkout system. When you give your product to a retailer, they will input your product details and barcode number into their system. After that, when they scan your barcode, the price and other product information will be visible on the checkout screen.
You can order a barcode from our Shop Page and pay by credit card or PayPal. After we receive your order, we will email your barcode number & images to you (this normally takes between 1 – 12 hours; please email or phone us if you need your barcode more urgently). If you would rather pay by direct bank deposit or Western Union Transfer, please email us for our details.
After you receive your barcode, just insert it into the design for your product packaging (or label). Resize the image if necessary (but don’t reduce the image to less than 30mm wide), then print your packaging or label. When you give your product to your retailer, they will type your barcode number and product details into their system – this will be what connects your barcode to your product.
Yes, our barcodes were initially issued by the Uniform Code Council. This was the predecessor of GS1 US which originally issue large quantities of barcodes for a one-off cost, without any conditions for resale attached to them. These are the numbers that we sell. They are part of the original GS1 system and work within this system perfectly.
Yes, they will. Our barcodes are EAN-13 codes, which means that they can be used throughout the world. We have customers using our barcodes in all parts of the world, including the UK, Ireland, Australia, Belgium, Bahrain, Cyprus, Denmark, Fiji, Finland, Greece, Italy, Kuwait, Mozambique, Uganda, Namibia, Papua New Guinea, United Arab Emirates, Japan & India.
Yes, the barcode number you receive will be unique worldwide. Our numbers are unique, and legal for use globally because they were originally issued by UCC (now GS1-US). You can use the guarantee certificate we’ll give you as proof of ownership of your unique number. We also have a written Guarantee given to us by the American company we receive our barcodes from (they guarantee that they will not give our numbers to anyone else). This American company is recommended by George J. Laurer (who invented UPC barcodes), therefore you can be confident that the barcodes we give you will belong to you alone & be unique worldwide.
No. When you get a barcode from our company it will be yours forever, it will never expire. You can choose to use it however you want to. If the first product you use it on goes out of stock, you may wish to re-allocate the barcode number to a different product (your retailer will need to remove your first product from their inventory system so that there is no double-up of the barcode number).
No, we will never charge you any future fees (eg. renewal fees or annual membership fees). All of our prices are one-off payments. We do not have to charge renewal fees because our barcode numbers come from a US business that joined the UCC in the early nineties before UCC (now GS1-US) started charging renewal fees. GS1-US only started charging renewal fees in 2002. Therefore, our company does not have to pay any renewal fees on our barcode numbers – and we can pass this benefit onto you.
The standard size for EAN-13 barcodes is 37.3 mm x 25.9 mm. The recommended magnification range is between 80% and 200% of standard size – therefore the smallest barcode size should still be at least 30mm wide. We suggest that you do a practice scan of your barcode image before printing it onto your label or packaging (you can use cheap scanning machines bought online if you don’t already have one). Note: If you need to get your barcode verified, please make sure that the barcode complies with the official barcode size standards).
No, there is no up-to-date comprehensive Central Database (nationally or internationally) for barcode registration. Barcode registration is not required, you can just start using your barcode immediately after receiving it – it is your duty to keep track of your number and make sure that it is never used on more than one product at the same time. We do provide barcode registration as an optional additional service. If you order barcode registration from us, we will register your barcode & product on the key online databases – this will enhance the presence of your product on the web and in internet search engines.
In the nineteen-nineties, some businesses in the USA were given manufacturer ID numbers from UCC. Ten years later, UCC (now GS1-US) decided to retain ownership of all new Manufacturer ID numbers they issued, and they began to charge annual membership fees for the ‘license’ to use their numbers.
Because of this, some US companies took UCC to Court and received a multi-million dollar settlement. Under the settlement, all companies that had paid an annual membership fee to UCC before 28th August 2002 could now enjoy free membership of UCC, and no longer had to pay any membership fees.
Some of these companies had barcode numbers that they didn’t need & had never used. Because of this, our company was able to purchase some of these never-before-used barcode numbers (from one of the companies involved). That is why we are able to sell a single barcode number to our customers for a one-off price, and we do not charge any ongoing fees.
The inventor of the 12-digit UPC barcode was George Joseph Laurer (from New York). On his website, Mr Laurer is very helpful in sharing his knowledge about the barcode symbol system he invented. He is frustrated by the enormous fees that GS1-US has recently decided to charge for ‘membership’, and recommends legitimate companies (like our company) which can sell barcode numbers at a one-off reasonable price. Our barcode numbers come from a source that Mr Laurer recommends.
We had just developed a new family game (through one of our other businesses – Edugames Ltd) and needed to get a barcode for it. We never expected getting a barcode to be so difficult! We were told that we would have to join a large organization and pay ongoing annual fees – we were also told that we couldn’t just buy a single barcode number (we had to buy multiple numbers at the same time). This seemed ridiculous to us. After doing a lot more research, we discovered a way to get an affordable legitimate barcode for our product at a one-off price (without joining an organization or paying excessive ‘membership fees’!)
We decided to create Barcodes Limited (World Barcodes) in order to help other businesses get affordable barcodes for their products at a one-off price.
Yes, you can. It is not compulsory to print your barcode in black on white. As long as there is a good degree of contrast between the bars and the background, it is okay to change the colour of the bars & the background to suit your requirements. Please note that some colour combinations aren’t suitable for barcodes (e.g. warm colours shouldn’t be used for the barcode bars because they are invisible to scanning machines). For more information please see our Barcode Colour Guide PDF.
Books need an ISBN number. You need to get one of these numbers assigned to your publication (Please see here for details on obtaining an ISBN Number), and then come back to us and order the barcode images for your number online. We will then email your barcode images to you & you can start using them in your book.
Magazines need an ISSN number. You need to get one of these numbers assigned to your publication (please see Magazine Barcodes for info on obtaining an ISSN), and then come back to us and order the barcode images for your number online. We will then email your barcode images to you & you can start using them in your magazine.
Both UPC-A Numbers and EAN-13 numbers are used as retail barcodes for scanning at the checkout in order to obtain the price and other product information. The main differences between them are that UPC-A Barcodes only have 12 digits and EAN-13 barcodes have 13 digits. Furthermore, the displacement of the numbers below the barcodes differs.
Both versions are designed for international use, and can therefore in theory be used throughout the world, however, UPC-A Barcodes are far more common in the USA, and EAN-13 Barcodes are far more common everywhere else. This means that some retailers may be unfamiliar with one format or have their system set up so that it cannot accept 13-digit or 12-digit numbers. Regardless of this, either format can be used.
As can be seen in the image below, the actual bars of the UPC-A format barcode and the EAN-13 format barcode (with a leading ‘0’) are identical. This means that they will scan in exactly the same way regardless of which country they are in. If a retailer’s system does not allow 13-digit numbers, the leading ‘0’ can be ignored when typing the number into the system and, the barcode will work in the same way as if it were a UPC-A format barcode. Similarly, if 13 digits are required, a ‘0’ can be added to the beginning of the UPC-A barcode to turn it into an EAN-13. Either way round, the barcode will be globally unique and legal for use internationally.
Our barcodes begin with a ’07’. This means that the barcodes themselves originally come from the USA, however, this says nothing about the origin of the products themselves. Products from any country can use barcodes from the USA and vice versa.