Identification numbers

Thought we were all about barcodes? Not at all. At the heart of the GS1 System are numbers, known as GS1 Identification (ID) Keys.

These ID Keys are used to help identify objects in the supply chain – no matter where you are in the world. Built on standards, they’re the foundation for the entire set of GS1 standards.


ID Keys: the foundation of the GS1 System

GS1 ID Keys are unique, non-significant and global. Built to a rock-solid standard, they open the door to many efficiencies and cost savings within your supply chain.

Depending on your type of GS1 membership, you can assign GS1 ID Keys to trade items, services, logistic units, consignments, assets, documents, relationships, parties and locations at every point in the supply chain. We can help you choose the right ones for your specific needs.

And, because GS1 ID Keys are all standards-based, they will be recognised around the world.

Learn more: Types of GS1 ID keys

Tag Data Standard for Electronic Product Codes (EPC)

GS1 ID Keys can be represented in RFID tags.  The term we use is the Electronic Product Code (EPC). Generally associated with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), EPC is a network of standards that helps you identify and capture information about objects in the supply chain. 

At the heart of EPC network is the EPC Tag Data Standard, which describes how GS1 ID Keys are encoded in RFID tags. 

Learn more: Tag Data Standard (EPC)

Application Identifiers: hold more data about objects

As well as using GS1 ID Keys to identify objects, Application Identifiers (AIs) are used to help capture additional data about particular objects within barcodes and RFID tags. 

Using standard formats, AIs are two- to four-digit prefixes that define the meaning and format of data that follows this prefix. For example, batch numbers, serial numbers, expiration dates, and measurements, as well as item identification, locations, assets, and shipments, etc.

AIs enable data to be represented in barcodes and RFID in a form that can be scanned and interpreted by any company in the your supply chain. 

Learn more: Types of Application Identifiers (AIs)