EAN UPC barcodes

The family of EAN/UPC barcodes are used to represent GTINs on trade items so they can be scanned at Point-of-Sale and distribution centres, anywhere in the world. 

The EAN/UPC barcode is used more than any other barcode. It’s the ‘original’ barcode, created back in 1973. Ever since the first pack of Wrigley’s chewing gum was scanned, this iconic GS1 barcode has been used to identify millions of trade items (products and services) ever since. 

Recognised at any retail Point-of-Sale, EAN/UPC barcodes are scanned by omni-directional scanners. That is, they can be read right-side-up or upside-down by scanners – making them a quick and efficient barcode for high-volume scanning situations like supermarkets.

Types of EAN/UPC barcodes

There are four different types of EAN/UPC barcodes you can use:


This encodes a GTIN-8, which is allocated directly by GS1 Australia or any other GS1 organisation. EAN-8 barcodes are used to identify small items only.

Examples of use: small retail items like cosmetics


This encodes a GTIN-13, and is used to identify the vast majority of trade items in the retail supply chain.

Examples of use: retail items that cross Point-of-Sale applications, like magazines, books, periodicals


This encodes a GTIN-12, and is used to identify some products being exported to North America.

Examples of use: retail items that cross Point-of-Sale applications


This encodes a GTIN-12, but uses a zero-suppression method to compress into an 8-digit format for use on smaller packages. 

Examples of use: small retail items like cosmetics, chewing gum packets

For more detailed information about the technical specifications of each of these barcodes, please read the latest GS1 General Specifications

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