A ‘barcode picture’ is a machine readable image consisting of vertical black bars and spaces of variable widths. When scanned by a bar code scanner, the black bars and spaces are decoded to reveal a specific 12 or 13 digit long sequence of numbers (the ‘barcode number’).
The 12 digit UPC bar code system was designed in the early 1970’s by George J. Laurer in the USA (when he was working as an engineer for IBM). A few years later he developed a 13 digit version of this code – the EAN-13 code – for use internationally (outside of the USA).
EAN-13 barcode numbers are 13 digits long. They are the most common type of barcode for retail products in Hong Kong (as well as worldwide). In the USA, the 12-digit UPC code is preferred. Almost all barcode scanners are able to read both types of code.
The majority of retail stores today are using a barcode system (and many more will implement a barcode system in the near future), therefore we recommend that you get a barcode if you want to sell your product in retail stores. You may also need a barcode if you want to sell your product online (stores such as Amazon and CD Baby require your product to have a barcode).
Yes, you can – just let us know what you want when you make your order. We normally provide barcodes in EAN-13 format because this is the most common format used in Hong Kong – however we are happy to supply your barcode to you in UPC-A format instead (or as well), if you prefer. UPC barcodes are 12 digits long, and are used mainly in the USA. EAN barcodes are usually 13 digits long, and they are used all over the world. Most barcode scanners can read both types of barcode.
It is usually necessary to have a different EAN-13 barcode for each different product variation (each different size, colour, design etc). Certain products, such as greeting cards or post cards, sometimes use just one barcode number (although often with a 2-digit supplement at the end – ie. EAN13+2 format).
Yes. The bar codes that we supply are GS1-origin barcodes that are unique worldwide. They are suitable for use on any retail product (although if you have a book or magazine you might want to get an ISBN or ISSN number instead).
To our knowledge, the barcodes we sell are accepted by every retailer in Hong Kong. If you are planning to export your product overseas, there are a few retailers that won’t accept our barcodes because they have a specific requirement that you must be a member of GS1 (these stores are Kroger’s and Walmart in the USA, Woolworths in Australia, and Super Retail Group in Australia and New Zealand).
Yes. The barcodes we sell are international codes. They can be used in any country in the world. We have been in business for almost seven years, and have customers that are using our barcodes in Asia, Europe, America, the Middle East, and the Pacific Islands.
Yes. Our barcodes come from UCC (now called GS1-US), which is the official barcode body. UCC (the Uniform Code Council) first allocated our barcodes to a company in the USA (before UCC started charging annual membership fees). This company then on-sold a large block of numbers that they didn’t need, and we purchased some of these.
Here is a more detailed explanation: Our barcode numbers were assigned by UCC (now called GS1-US) to manufacturers in the USA in the early 1990s, before GS1-US had started charging membership fees. When GS1-US introduced annual membership fees in the early 2000’s, these manufacturers refused to pay & took GS1 to Court. The manufacturers succeeding, winning an out-of-court settlement of about $4,000,000 USD. Under the terms of the settlement, these manufacturers owned their barcode numbers & did not have to pay any membership fees to GS1. Some of these manufacturers had large quantities of un-needed barcode numbers, so they chose to sell some these numbers to other companies. This is where our barcode numbers come from.
No, your barcode will not have your company prefix. The only way to get a barcode with a company prefix is to purchase a large quantity of barcodes from a global standards body (100+) and pay their expensive annual membership fees. It is not possible to buy a single barcode number that has your company prefix. HOWEVER – the vast majority of retailers (99.95%) don’t care about the ‘company prefix’, they just want a legitimate barcode that works.
No product (or company) information is contained in a barcode. A barcode is simply a unique sequence of digits (encoded into vertical black bars and spaces). Your barcode will only become connected to your product when it is put into a database, or a retailer’s inventory system.
To purchase a barcode from our company, please go to the Barcode Shop page, enter the quantity of items you want, click “Add to Cart”, and then click “Go to Checkout”. You can then review your order and make the payment (by credit card or PayPal). After the payment has been made, you will receive an email confirming your order. We will then process your order (usually within the next 1 – 12 hours), and email your barcode order to you.
You can begin using your barcode straight away – just attach it to your product, and then give your product to your retailers. They will enter your barcode number & product information into their system. After that, when your retailers scan your barcode the product information will appear on their screen.
When you order an EAN barcode package through our website, you will be automatically emailed your barcode number and images as attached files by email. If you are ordering other products from our website we will process the order manually. This usually happens within a couple of hours, or next morning at the latest. All products will be emailed through to you. The only thing that will take longer is barcode verification, in which case we will need you to send us your product packaging. Once we receive your product packaging the reports usually take a couple of days.
Yes, as our barcodes were initially sold by the UCC with no restrictions attached to them, they are legal for use anywhere in the world. They are part of the same system as the GS1 numbering system and work in the exact same way as GS1 numbers.
YES. We guarantee that the barcode number you will receive will be unique worldwide. No one else in the world will (legally) be allowed to use your barcode number. We will also give you a certificate of authenticity.
The standard size for an EAN-13 barcode is about 38mm wide, but anything within 80% – 200% of the standard size is okay. The smallest recommended width for an EAN-13 barcode is 30mm. For more information, see the official standards for barcode size.
No. If you buy a barcode from our company it will not be registered in a central database, as there is no central database for barcode numbers. After you receive a barcode number from us, you can begin using it straight away – you do not have to register it first. It is your responsibility to monitor the use of your barcode number (ie. to make sure that it is only assigned to one product at a time). We offer a complementary barcode registration service with our barcode packages. This involves us registering your barcode on several internet databases. It is not compulsory, but can increase the internet profile of your product.
Printing your barcode in black on white is the safest thing to do, however it is okay to print the barcode in some other colours too. If you are adding colour to the barcode, the background of the barcode needs to be a warm colour (eg. red, yellow, or orange) and the bars needs to be a cool colour (eg. green or blue). You cannot use metallic colours on any part of the barcode. If you print your barcode in colours other than black and white, we recommend that you thoroughly test the barcode to ensure that it scans well before using it. 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 on 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 on 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 retailers 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.