The Beginners Guide to Amazon UPC Codes

The Beginner’s Guide To Amazon UPC Codes

As any seller knows, Amazon is crammed full with not just millions of different products but, millions of different variations of different products.  Like in any other kind of store, each product sold on Amazon has its own unique product code (UPC) to help sellers and buyers quickly identify and catalogue each product.

Why do I need to buy UPC codes for Amazon?

If you want to sell a product on Amazon, that product must have a UPC, otherwise it will not be accepted for sale on Amazon.

Scanning BarcodeAmazon does cross checking of UPC codes against the GS1 database, but only for Brand Registered Sellers. Unfortunately, Amazon does enforce their UPC Policy if you registered for their Brand Program. This means any seller registered with Amazon’s Brand Program, without a barcode Prefix directly rented from GS1 will not be able to list their products. This essentially means Amazon is forcing you as a seller to pay for expensive UPC codes from GS1 and pay annual fees for the lifetime of your company and product.

Fortunately, if you have not registered for Amazon’s Brand Program (Which is the most common case for Amazon Sellers), you will be able to use our UPC and EAN Barcodes without issue and save a ton of money at the same time.

Cracking the code

There are a number of different types of codes used to identify products for sale in both online and physical stores and it’s important to make sure that you have the right one for your product and for your selling requirements.

  • UPC and EAN FormatsUPC (Universal Product Code) codes for Amazon are one of the types of Product IDs that they require when listing an item to sell. Universal product codes, more commonly known as UPC barcodes feature strips of black bars, white spaces and 12 numbers.  The bars, which correspond directly to the numbers, are scanned in order to identify the product correctly. Most of us have, at one time or another, used self-checkouts at the supermarket and will, therefore, be familiar with the concept of barcodes used for identification and pricing. 
  • EAN (European Article Number) codes are standard barcodes outside of the United State and Canada. The barcodes contain 13 numbers as well as the bars.  Used widely online, EAN codes are unique in that their first digits are assigned a county code and can tell you the country of origin where the barcode was purchased. This is not always where the product was manufactured however.
  • GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) codes are the newest name for the family of product codes. GTIN-12 represents a UPC Code, GTIN-13 represents an EAN Code, GTIN-14 represents a Shipping Container Code. GS1 is pushing to make these newer names the standard.

What’s the Difference Between a UPC and an FNSKU?

As a new seller, you may be encountering some confusing information about UPCs. If you’ve seen the term FNSKU thrown around, but aren’t sure what it means, we’ve got you covered. Some articles mistakenly use UPC and FNSKU interchangeably, but they’re two very different types of barcodes.

FNSKU (Fulfillment Network Stock Keeping Unit) is a barcode Amazon generates for your product to keep track of it internally within their warehouses and databases. Once you’ve added the product to your inventory, Amazon will generate an FNSKU for it, which you must incorporate into the product packaging or have placed on your product by Amazon (for an additional fee). The FNSKU label would replace or cover up the UPC barcode if you have one on your packaging already.

So, how do I get a UPC code?

There's only two ways to legally acquire a UPC Code. You can rent it from GS1 or own it outright from ourselves due to the GS1/UCC class action lawsuit settlement in 2002. Our inventory of UPC barcode numbers or prefixes originate from GS1-US before 2002, this is how you can legally own them instead of being forced by GS1 into renting them for thousands or many thousands + annual fees. 

All of the UPC & EAN codes that can be used on Amazon, originate from GS1 (Formally known as the UCC or Uniform Code Council). GS1 (Global Standard 1) is a non-profit organization that has set the global standard for supply chain barcoding.

There are more than 100 GS1 organizations around the world – GS1 US is the organization that serves US businesses. GS1 rents unique blocks of barcodes (Prefixes) to companies so that they can create their own unique UPC barcodes containing the prefix number given to them by GS1. Going through GS1 is usually much more expensive and you will have to pay renewal fees for the lifetime of your product, however there are scenarios where this cannot be avoided. If you are Brand Registered with Amazon then you must rent directly from GS1.

If you are not Brand Registered with Amazon, then you can purchase UPC Codes directly from us and save a ton of money.

Final Thoughts

By now, you must have realized the importance of Amazon UPC codes. Without one, it will be nearly impossible for you to sell your products in the marketplace. It is an investment but is undoubtedly worth the price. You need to ensure that you buy Amazon UPC codes from valid authorities like Bar Codes Talk, to avoid any discrepancies down the road. The codes need to be authentic, correct and must adhere to the Amazon standards.