Frequently Asked Questions

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U.P.C. Numbers

Question: What is a U.P.C. Number?

Answer: U.P.C. stands for the Universal Product Code. A U.P.C. number is used to identify a single product, and is twelve digits in length. These original twelve digits consist of a 6 digit manufacturer identification number, followed by a five digit item number, followed by a one digit calculated check digit.

The manufacturer identification number is obtained by each manufacturer from GS1 (formerly the Uniform Code Council or UCC) located in Princeton, NJ. To apply for a manufacturer ID number, or to verify your existing number, contact GS1 directly at their local number 609-620-0200 or go to  for contact details of your local office.

Separate item numbers are assigned by the manufacturer to each unique product. These must be all-numeric (no alpha characters) and 5 digits in length. Some manufacturers choose to randomly assign these numbers, by starting at "00001" and incrementing by 1 for each item. Others prefer to assign some intelligence to the numbers, but this is not recommended.

The calculated check digit is the twelfth and final digit in the U.P.C. code. It is calculated based on a specific algorithm, and is necessary to ensure that no errors exist in the bar code. This is particularly useful for the exception condition when the barcode is unreadable at retail checkout. Keyboard errors are eliminated through the use of the check character (12th digit).

For expanded information about the GS1 bar code system and the changes made in 2005 check this out.


Phone: 215.489.1722

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