The Global Language of Business

Standards Spotlight Episode 2: GTINs

Jul 2, 2020, by Fionnuala Malone, GS1 Ireland - Category: Standards Spotlight

What is a GTIN?

GTIN Blue BoxA GTIN, or Global Trade Item Number, is a number that uniquely identifies a product or service. You will see GTINs under barcode symbols on almost every product in the world. In Europe, they’re usually 13 digits long. You might see shorter 8-digit numbers used on smaller products. GTINs can be licensed from GS1 organisations around the world – to guarantee their uniqueness.

barcode managerBarcode Manager is the online tool available to you to manage your GTINs and the product information associated with them - it will even automatically calculate the check digit for you. Barcode symbol images can also be created and downloaded from Barcode Manager (credits required). 

But wait, what's the difference between a barcode and a GTIN?

 A 'barcode' refers to the printed symbol, the black and white lines and spaces that can be read by a barcode scanner at the point of sale. 'GTIN' refers to the number beneath this symbol, which uniquely identifies the item.


Is a GTIN just a bunch of random numbers?

No, a GTIN is made up of four elements of varying length as follows:

1. A three digit number that identifies to the GS1 country office that issued the number

2. A unique identifier for the company licenced to use prefix. The first two elements combined are known as the GCP or Global Company Prefix.

3. A unique product identifier or Item Reference

4. A check digit calculated by an algorithm to ensure the integrity of the complete number.

barcode symbol

 What size should a barcode symbol be?

The EAN 13 symbol is the most commonly used of all the GS1 symbols. It is the symbol typically found on most items sold at a retail point of sale. EAN 13 is used to print each of the 13-digit GTIN types used for fixed weight products, variable weight products, coupons, books and serial publications. 

 Barcodes for Retail at GS1 Ireland

The target size for a printed EAN 13 symbol is 37.29 mm x 27.85 mm. You can read more about the symbol specifications on our website. 

Can GTINs from GS1 Ireland only be used to sell products in Ireland?

No, when you join GS1 Ireland, you will provided with GTINs that you can use worldwide. As GS1 is a global standards organisation, we ensure that our GS1 GTINs will work across the globe.

Wait, I still have a question!Barcodes Made Easy


That's the Standards Spotlight for this month. Please feel free to contact our Helpdesk if you have further questions or would like to find out about our barcode training options. 

Tags: gtin, barcode, gs1, standard,