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October 4, 2007

How to get a UPC (Universal Product Code)


Many retailers require a product to have one before they'll sell it.

If you're like me you haven't a clue how to go about getting one.

That's why they invented the Wall Street Journal.

In the September 4, 2007 issue Kelly Spors's "Small Talk" column featured a Q&A on the subject, which follows.

    How Do I Get a UPC?

    Q: I am starting a small business and will have one product that I plan to sell to retail outfits. I have found that many retailers will require my product to have a universal product code. How do I get a UPC?

    A: UPCs — the 12-digit numbers that appear under the barcodes on many U.S. products — are given out by GS1 US, a nonprofit group that sets standards for international commerce.

    Here's how it works: Businesses pay to join GS1 US, and in exchange, it assigns each member its own identification number that appears as the first part of its UPC.

    Companies usually need different UPC codes for each product they sell, even if it is just a different size. So companies will add more numbers to their GS1-issued identification code to identify each of their products. Each UPC can be used to produce a specific barcode that can then be printed out and attached to products or, ideally, incorporated into the product design so that it is easily scanned at the register.

    But going this route isn't exactly cheap. For membership in GS1 US, you must pay an initial fee of least $750 and then an annual maintenance fee of at least $150. The fees depend on the number of unique products you sell, along with your annual revenue. A membership form can be filled out online on GS1's Web site, www.gs1us.org.

    Another option: Some Internet-based companies, including buyabarcode.com, now resell UPC codes for less than $100, so small companies don't have to pay to join GS1 themselves.


    You will be paying for the use of that company's identification number — not your own. That means your products' UPC will begin with another company's ID number. It can be a fine solution if you are cash-strapped or working with small or independent retailers — if the retailers don't mind — and just selling one or two products.

    But it won't work if you're planning to sell through major retailers because they generally require product makers to have their own identification numbers.

October 4, 2007 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


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We used www.qualityupc.com to buy 8 barcodes for our company's vitamins. We currently sell them at local RiteAid, Vitamin Shoppe & Amazon. The UPC Codes were delivered via email with very fast turnaround. No annual fee or set-up fee with this company, $29 apiece.

Here's the website page for them http://www.qualityupc.com

Posted by: Tina | Sep 22, 2009 5:29:38 PM

How will the UPC codes be delivered to me? Do I need a special type of printer to print the UPC codes?

Posted by: Rita | Mar 19, 2009 4:48:00 AM

Yes, the Bar Codes we bought from http://www.upccode.net>http://www.upccode.net are perfectly compatible with Amazon.

We continually keep needing UPC Codes in small numbers, just recently we had bought 3 numbers from them to use in Amazon, they are accepted by Amazon & work perfectly fine.

Posted by: Katherine | Mar 8, 2009 3:54:44 AM

Katherine, That is real value for money with no set-up or annual fees!

I need to buy 5 UPC codes, however my products sell on Amazon. Katherine, the barcodes you bought, are they usable on Amazon too?

Posted by: Mark | Mar 4, 2009 3:16:33 AM

We used http://www.upccode.net to buy 2 upc codes. They had no annual or any kind of set-up fees and the upc codes were for less than $90!.

Posted by: Katherine | Jan 28, 2009 3:33:39 AM

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