GTINs can be 8, 12, 13, or 14 digits in length to accommodate different application and product constraints. These GTIN structures are known as GTIN-8, GTIN-12, GTIN-13, and GTIN-14 respectively.


Each GTIN is a numerical string comprised of distinct components. GTIN components include:


ü  Indicator Digit: A number from 1-8 used in to identify packaging levels to define the packaging hierarchy of a product. Indicator digit 9 is used  exclusively with variable measure products. Indicator digits are only used in GTIN-14.


ü  GS1 Company Prefix: A globally unique number licensed to a company by a GS1 Member Organization to serve as the foundation for generating GS1 Identification Keys (e.g., GTINs). GS1 Company Prefixes are assigned in varying lengths depending on the company’s needs. [For GTIN-12, a U.P.C. Company Prefix is used in place of the GS1 Company Prefix]


ü  Item Reference: A number, containing no logic, assigned by the user to identify a trade item. The Item Reference varies in length based on GS1 Company Prefix length.


ü  Check digit: The final digit calculated from the preceding digits of the GTIN. This digit is used to check that the data has been correctly composed. GS1 provides a check digit calculator to automatically calculate check digits for you.



Note: The application and use of each component can vary depending in the GTIN structure being used (e.g., GTIN-8, GTIN-12, GTIN-13, or GTIN-14). The specific rules are defined within the GS1 General Specifications. For example, GTIN-8 only includes a GS1-8 Prefix, Item Reference, and Check Digit.



The GTIN-8 is the only GTIN that can be used in EAN-8 barcodes. Components include: 

Seven digits containing a GS1-8 Prefix and the Item Reference Check digit

Figure 3-1 GTIN-8 example – EAN-8 barcode 




The GTIN-12 is the only GTIN that can be used in UPC-A barcodes. Components include:

Eleven digits containing your U.P.C. Company Prefix and the Item Reference Check digit


Figure 3-2 GTIN-12 example – UPC-A barcode




The GTIN-13 is the only GTIN that can be used in EAN-13 barcodes. Components include:

Twelve digits containing your GS1 Company Prefix and the Item Reference.

A GS1 Company Prefix used to create a GTIN-13 will begin with a 1-9.

Check digit


Figure 3-3 GTIN-13 example – EAN-13 barcode



The GTIN-14 cannot be used in EAN/UPC barcodes. Components include: 

The Indicator Digit to indicate packaging level (1-8) or that the product is variable measure (9).

Twelve digits containing your GS1 Company Prefix and the Item Reference Check digit


Figure 3-4 GTIN-14 example – ITF-14 barcode




 Figure 3-5 GTIN-14 example – GS1-128 barcode




Note: Any of the GTIN data structures (GTIN-8, GTIN-12, GTIN-13, and GTIN-14) may be

used in an ITF-14 or GS1-128, as long as they are formatted as 14 digits as seen in the

Table 4-1.



Which GTIN is right for your product?


A GTIN may be encoded in EAN/UPC, ITF-14, GS1-128, GS1 DataBar, and GS1 DataMatrix. The GTIN may also be encoded in EPC scheme for RFID tags or in QR Code and Data Matrix when using GS1 Digital Link URI. The appropriate GTIN and barcode, or if applicable, the GTIN and EPC/RFID tag combination is determined by many factors, such as the type of product, where it will be scanned, and the printing material used for the product packaging. The following table provides examples of unique product identification at various levels. It also demonstrates how various GS1 barcodes can be used for GTINs.


Table 4-1 Unique product identification at various levels


Key features of the GTIN


ü  GlobalGTINs are a global standard that can be assigned by any company anywhere and can be used all over the world.


ü  Multi-sectorGTINs can be used by all business sectors, enabling any product (e.g., a healthcare product, a grocery product, a retail product, etc.) to be identified using the same standardized identifier.


ü  UniqueThe standardized structure and rules for assigning GTINs help assure that every GTIN is globally unique.


ü  Packaging hierarchyGTIN-14 can be used to identify trade item packaging levels based on a GTIN-8, GTIN-12, or GTIN-13. Use of GTIN-14 enables more products to be identified from a single GS1 Company Prefix.

ü  Data integrityInclusion of the check digit supports integrity in the GTIN structure.


How do GTINs support business intelligence?


GS1 Standards provide the format and structure for GTINs use across various platforms where product identification and information are needed, including databases and systems, physical product marking, business transactions, and internet applications. This enables trading partners to use the same identifier to distinguish the product across all of those platforms – empowering data-driven organizations with the information they need to optimize business intelligence and improve business processes.


How are GTINs assigned to products?


Brand owners are responsible for assigning GTINs to their products. The brand owner is the organization that owns the specifications of a trade item, regardless of where and by whom it is manufactured. The GS1 System provides clear, structured data standards and management rules that manufacturers follow when allocating GTINs to assure that their GTINs are globally unique and in a consistent format.

There are three basic steps for assigning a GTIN:

1.     License a GS1 Company Prefix or a single GTIN. GS1 Saudi Arabia licenses a GS1 Company Prefix that provides the foundation for generating GS1 Identification Keys. For businesses that only need to identify a small number of products, individual GTINs can be licensed outside of a GS1 Company Prefix.

Note: For those who license a GS1 Company Prefix, the company assigns and generates their own GTINs based on their GS1 Company Prefix, GS1 Standards, and GTIN Management Rules.

  1. When a company assigns a GTIN, they also define a prescribed set of data which describes the product. This product information defines core data that is consistent across all instances of the product (e.g., size, color, brand information, etc.)
  2. The GTIN and associated product information is then saved in a database and shared among supply chain partners to support their operations and systems.


Business benefits of using GTINs

As a key component of the GS1 System, the GTIN is established as the standard used worldwide for trade items. GTINs enable trading partners to manage information efficiently and effectively about products using a unique, global standard for product identification. This facilitates the communication of accurate product information among trading partners to support supply chain operations and optimize business intelligence. Simply put, using GTINs streamlines supply chain management and promotes accuracy, speed, and efficiency for your business.

ü  Drives e-commerceGTIN facilitates the global flow of trade items and associated information used in e-commerce.

ü  Enhances compatibilityGTIN builds confidence across all business sectors to trade goods and services with compatible product identification.


ü  Facilitates accuracyCapturing the GTIN at warehouse shipping and receiving, hospital, POS, essential for accurate stock control and order replenishment.


ü  GS1 Global Data Synchronization Network™ (GDSN®)GTIN enables users to leverage the GDSN to manage product information. The GDSN offers a continuous, automated approach to data management that helps ensure that product information is identical among supply chain partners, increasing data accuracy and reducing costs.


ü  Simplified supply chain managementGTIN strengthens business communications among supply chain partners by accurately identifying specific products and the flow of associated information.


ü  Improved data qualityGTIN improves information quality by ensuring that product information is identical among supply chain partners. This benefits both internal and external business processes.


What is GTIN compliance?

For a company to be GTIN compliant, they must be able to process and store GTIN-8, GTIN-12, GTIN- 13, and GTIN-14 across all systems in a 14-digit format. This includes point-of-sale, supply chain applications, ERP, and other systems that are interacting with GTINs. A company must be GTIN compliant to take full advantage of:

ü  Unique identification of trade items

ü  Reliable price-look-up functions

ü  Interoperability and quality of product identification and information throughout the value chain

ü  Data synchronization using the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN)

ü  GS1 data carriers

ü  Electronic Product Codes (EPC)

ü  GS1 Digital Link

If a change is made to a product, does the GTIN need to change?

A new GTIN is required whenever any of the pre-defined characteristics of a trade item are modified in any way that is relevant to the trading process. The GTIN Management Standard’s guiding principles state that a new GTIN should be assigned to the updated trade item if:

·       The consumer and/or trading partner is expected to distinguish the changed or new product from previous/current products

·       There is a regulatory/liability disclosure requirement to the consumer and/or trading partner

·       There is a substantial impact to the supply chain (e.g., how the product is shipped, stored, or received)