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Database Layout for GTIN-12 (U.P.C.) Numbers

Question: Should I treat the GTIN-12 (U.P.C.) number as a 12 digit number including the check digit or not?

Answer: There are many different ways to lay out a database. The treatment of the number is based on database design and application software. Those people using the GTIN-12 (U.P.C.) numbers should be aware that earlier explanations of the fields of information contained in the U.P.C. number may convey some misconceptions. According to the latest Industrial/Commercial Guidelines published by GS1 (formerly the Uniform Code Council - UCC), some new terminology has emerged that is helpful in understanding database layout and the use of the numbers.

The base U.P.C. number in the United States is viewed as an 11 digit number, not including the calculated check digit. The number contained in a GTIN-12 (U.P.C.) symbol contains all 12 digits including the calculated check digit. Throughout the rest of the world, the base GTIN-13 (formerly UPC/EAN) is looked at as a 12 digit number without the calculated check digit and a 13 digit number is represented in the UPC/EAN symbol. The base shipping container code (GTIN-14) is a 13 digit number and when represented in the Interleaved 2 of 5 Symbol, contains 14 digits including the calculated check digit. See illustration below.

GTIN-12 (U.P.C. Symbol)
Base Number=65432112345 (11 digits); symbol=654321123452 (12 digits)

GTIN-13 (UPC/EAN Symbol)
Base Number=065432112345 (12 digits); symbol=0654321123452 (13 digits)

GTIN-14 (Shipping Container Code - Interleaved 2 of 5)
Base Number=2065432112345 (13 digits); symbol=20654321123456 (14 digits)

In summation, data files should be laid out to accommodate all 14 characters. The simplest way to use the numbers is to right fill the fields and fill with zeros in the most significant positions. If this is done, then any parsing technique can be used to key for the item number, the manufacturers number, or the package level indicator. Further database considerations are contained in the Introduction to the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) which can be downloaded here.

Be sure to go to 2005 Sunrise for further details about GTIN and the future implication of expanding the size of EAN/U.P.C. numbers up to 14 digits. 


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