Types of GS1 ID Keys

There are different GS1 ID Keys to suit different uses. You can use GS1 ID Keys to identify anything from a product or place to a consignment note or crate.    

An ID Key for every application

GS1 ID Keys can be used to identify objects in the supply chain, including:

See the GS1 General Specifications for more detail

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Trade items

GS1 ID Key: GTIN (Global Trade Item Number)

GTINs are used to identify any trade item (product or service) at any point in any supply chain. They are recognised worldwide and are often referred to as barcodes.

There are four formats for GTINs, each with specific purposes. The type of GTIN you use can depend on a number of things, including the size of the item, whether it is retail or non-retail, and where it is being sold.

See the global GTIN Management Standard                                                                                                                                      


The GTIN-13 is the most commonly used GTIN for retail trade items. It can also be used for non-retail items like outer cartons, display cartons and more.

See how to assign a GTIN-13

See how to assign a general distribution GTIN                        


GTIN-8 allows a smaller barcode to be used on smaller retail trade items.

See how to assign a GTIN-8


Over the past 10 years, United States and Canada have steadily been updating retail Point-of-Sale systems to be able to scan GTIN-13 and GTIN-8. If you are exporting trade items to these countries, you should confirm with your trading partners if they can scan these numbers. If they cannot, you will need to use a GTIN-12. You can apply for this through GS1 Australia. 

See how to assign a GTIN-12

See how to assign a general distribution GTIN for North America


The GTIN-14 is used on general distribution trade items – that is, items that are not intended for sale to the consumer at Point-of-Sale.

See how to assign a general distribution GTIN

See how to assign a general distribution GTIN using a GTIN-12                        

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Logistics units

A logistic unit – often referred to, but not limited to, a pallet – is an item that is transported and/or stored, and needs to be tracked or traced through the supply chain. GS1 ID Keys can be used to identify:

  • Individual logistic units
  • Multiple logistic units for consignment
  • Multiple logistic units for shipment

Individual logistic units

GS1 ID Key: SSCC (Serial Shipping Container Code)

Use SSCCs to identify items transported or stored (e.g. logistics units) in your supply chain.

See how to assign an SSCC and create a logistics label

Multiple logistic units for consignment

GS1 ID Key: GINC (Global Identification Number for Consignment)

Use GINCs to identify a grouping of logistic units that has been consigned to a freight forwarder or carrier and is intended to be transported as a whole. This ID Key is generally assigned by the freight forwarder or carrier.

Multiple logistics units for shipment

GS1 ID Key: GSIN (Global Shipment Identification Number)

Use GSINs to identify a group of logistic units for the purpose of a transport shipment that travels under the one bill of lading. This ID Key is generally assigned by the supplier of the shipment.

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GS1 ID Key: GLN (Global Location Number)

Use GLNs to identify:

  • Physical locations - a site (an area, a structure or group of structures) or an  area within the site where something was, is, or will be located.
  • Digital locations - a digital location represents an electronic (non-physical)  address that is used for communication between computer systems.
  • Legal entities – any business, government body, department, charity,  individual or institution that has standing in the eyes of the law and has the  capacity to enter into agreements or contracts.
  • Functions – an organisational subdivision or department based on the specific  tasks being performed, as defined by the organisation

See the global GLN assigning rules

See how to assign a GLN

Get a GLN

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Using the GS1 System, you can identify both individual assets and returnable assets.

Individual assets

GS1 ID Key: GIAI (Global Individual Asset Identifier)

Use GIAIs to identify fixed assets of any value in your company, such as a computer or vehicle, so you can identify and track them through their lifetime.

Returnable assets

GS1 ID Key: GRAI (Global Returnable Asset Identifier)

Use GRAIs to identify returnable assets like trays, crates or pallets. They can be used for tracking purposes, or can be part of a hiring or rental system.

See how to assign GIAIs and GRAIs

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Service relationships

GS1 ID Key: GSRN (Global Service Relationship Number)

Use GSRNs to identify a service relationship between a business and a client (e.g. club membership, loyalty program, hospital patients).

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GS1 ID Key: GDTI (Global Document Type Identifier)

Use GDTIs to identify documents by their type (e.g. proof of ownership, tax demands, proof of shipment forms, insurance policies, internal invoices, etc). 

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GS1 ID Key: GCN (Global Coupon Number)

Use GCNs to identify coupons, with the option of adding a serial number. Each GCN is unique worldwide. 

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Components and parts

GS1 ID Key: CPID (Component/Part Identifier)

Use CPIDs to identify components and parts, typically where an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) defines specifications for a final product, such as automobile parts.

Important: this identifier can only be used between trading partners.


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