September 6, 2020

Amazon Barcodes: Complete Guide for Sellers

You've heard about Amazon barcodes, haven't you? And you probably thought that it seems too difficult to fully understand this issue? Well, we did it for you and put together information that will fill in all the gaps in your knowledge about Amazon barcodes. Start reading to become an expert at this question!

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What Is a UPC Code?

Amazon UPC code refers to an exceptional or unique code assigned to every Amazon marketplace product. This is a 12-digit code using to identify individual products.  It is done to differentiate the said product from others already presented in the online world. Amazon's barcode makes it simple to determine individual items sold on Amazon across the globe. It is considered an Amazon system to distinguish each item in its database.

In addition, according to the rules of Amazon, each seller needs to mark its goods in accordance with them. Your Amazon account, like Amazon Listing, can be banned if you do not comply with these requirements.

Remember that mislabeling can cause confusion in the warehouse. And this, in the end, will become only your problem.

What Is the UPC Code Used For?

The main use of Amazon UPCs is to make it simple and easy to distinguish each product's features, which takes account of the brand name, color, and sizes the moment a product is scanned at checkout. As a matter of fact, that is why UPC was made in the first place- to fasten the process of checking out. Universal Product Code also plays a vital role in tracking inventory in a warehouse or store. 

In general, it improves speed, efficiency, and productivity by getting rid of the need to enter information about the specific product manually. 

This barcode also makes it likely to monitor inventory accurately than hand counting, to determine when more product is required in warehouses or on retail shelves. 

In fact, the use of UPC codes is necessary in order for properly organizing the storage system of goods in warehouses and on store shelves. With the help of these codes, you can easily find out the information about a specific product in the same way as you do it in any store, by scanning ordinary product barcodes. The same principle is used by Amazon when it requires that the labeling of goods need to be performed with special codes. This is necessary for the correct work of not only warehouses and delivery service, but also the organization of excellent customer service.

Why Does Amazon Seller Need a UPC Code?

As for Amazon sellers, they must label their goods with barcodes according to Amazon's requirements. After all, otherwise it will be impossible to distinguish products from each other and organize storage in the warehouse and dispatch to customers.

As an Amazon seller, you need this code to fill out the ID field of the product when listing a new item to sell. In the section of Product ID, you have to choose UPC from the drop down menu. It is not likely to list an item for sale on the Amazon marketplace with no UPC code. 

UPC is also known as a barcode. Therefore, if your item has already barcode as you are re-selling something, you can enter that code in the item ID field. 

How to Get UPC Code?

Let's look at a few situations so that you can better understand how to get the UPC code.

  1. You are a wholesaler or arbitrage seller. In this case, codes from the manufacturer are already indicated on the box with the goods you resell. You can use them to enter data when you make an Amazon listing. And make sure that FNSKU is pasted over these codes (we'll talk about it in this article too).
  2. You are a Private Label Seller. First of all, you must understand that you cannot generate or create UPC code yourself. To do this, you must contact GS1, an international non-profit organization. It is responsible for the standardization of barcodes and ensures that they are legal during use. In other words, if you received a barcode outside of GS1, you can never be sure that there will be no further problems with your product on Amazon.

Of course, there are many other companies on the market now offering UPC codes (sometimes even cheaper than the GS1 is, which seems very attractive, doesn't it?). But think about this: what happens if you pay money for UPC codes, but they don't pass Amazon's verification? In the company said it will tighten control over this, so you are at great risk.

Let's take a look closer at what the UPC code is. In reality, the UPC code is nothing more than the numbers and black bars, which we see on every product that we buy in the store. But in order to generate it, you need to go through several stages.

  1. Applying for a prefix on the GS1 website. There are over 100 official sites in different regions where you can get the so-called prefix. This is a company identifier that is unique to each such structure. It connects each of your products to the brand you represent. It is displayed at the front of any of your codes and consists of 6-10 digits. You also need to determine how many UPC codes you want to end up with. After all, the cost of each of them depends on it. The GS1 website contains information that indicate the cost of a package of UPC codes, depending on their number.
  2. Get GTIN. This is an identifier that consists of a company prefix, a unique product number and a “check digit”, which is automatically generated to verify the correctness of the GTIN generation. You get a 12-digit number - GTIN. Next, you need to think about how exactly you will sell products.
  1. Select UPC type. The fact is that for online stores and for warehouses, the UPC codes will be different. If you are planning to sell products on Amazon or in stores, you must think about it ahead. If you want to use barcodes for inventory control, these will be other codes. And when choosing the options for creating UPC code, specify the appropriate parameters. At this stage, you get the usual "striped" code with numbers, which you can further use to mark the goods.
  1. Apply the UPC code to the packaging. This can be done in several ways. The first one is to send the manufacturer an electronic version of the code, which he can put on the packaging at the stage of its creation. Many suppliers from China do this work, so you shouldn't have any difficulties. The second way is to stick ready-made labels with codes on the packaging.

Why Should You Not Buy UPC Codes from Third-Party Companies?

People usually buy cheap UPCs from shady companies and sellers online. Most likely, they are recycled codes. Amazon will think your items are fraudulent and delete your account.

Sites that sell barcodes (especially discounted ones) do not give any guarantee that they will work fine when you start selling on Amazon. The thing is that such sites simply resell old barcodes that are no longer used. But where is the guarantee that somewhere there is still no product with the same UPC code on the shelf of one of the stores? Do you want to take a risk for dubious savings?

Therefore, use the official GS1 website to get UPC codes legally and use them in the future without any problems.

What Other Barcodes Can I Use to Sell Products on Amazon? What Is the Difference Between These Barcodes?

There are other types of barcodes that you can use.

  • EAN: EAN or also known as European Article Numbers are a GS1 issued code that takes account of company or business prefixes at the start of the numeric GTIN. EAN-8 and EAN-13 are two popular kinds of GTIN amongst Amazon sellers, which encode a GTIN-8 and GTIN-13. Like the Universal Product Code, EAN does not essentially identify the country or place where it was created. EAN is more commonly used by merchants in Europe, while UPC is widely used in Canada and the United States.
  • ISBN: ISBN is needed to list a new book for sale on the Amazon marketplace. This stands for International Standard Book Number. This is a standard method of knowing book titles as well as separating them not just from each other, but from the different formats of publications, like hardcover, multiple editions, audiocassette, paperback, CD-ROM and many others. The ISBN code consists of 10 or 13 digits and uniquely identifies the book, its author, type of book, and other important information.

What Is the GTIN Exemption? 

Can you sell products on Amazon without a GTIN? Yes, this is possible if you are one of those for whom Amazon can make an exception. You are able to make a listing with not GTIN under specific conditions. This course is called the GTIN exemption. You have to get this in a particular brand in a specific category of products. 

Among the categories in which such exceptions may be applied are the following: mobile accessories, books, baby, camera and others. The main reason you can request a GTIN exception is that you cannot get it.

  • You want to sell handmade goods and are a manufacturer of them.
  • You want to sell products for which the manufacturer cannot provide such a code, for example, handmade products or private label products. But you need to be prepared to provide Amazon with the relevant documents from the manufacturer.
  • You want to sell products, that doesn’t have a GTIN, for example, mobile accessories.
  • You want to sell a bundle of products (more than one included).

If your request will be approved, you can add a product for sale without using the GTIN. The system will automatically recognize that you have received approval and will not require a GTIN when adding goods.

What is FNSKU? Do I Need to Apply It on the Packaging with the Goods?

FNSKU is a product identifier that Amazon assigns to the specific product. Its main difference is that when FNSKU is marked, a specific product is associated with a specific seller. This helps to avoid confusion when "someone else's" goods will be sent to your buyer. Let's take a look closer.

For example, you are Seller A and you sell goods that are manufactured by Supplier X. But another Seller B sells the same goods, buying them from the same Supplier X. These goods have the same UPC code, and when Seller A and Seller B deliver such goods to Amazon warehouses, they will end up in the so-called pool of goods (in case both of you will not mark the goods with FNSKU).

When a Buyer orders a product from Seller A, in the Amazon warehouse, when processing the order, they may not send him your product at all, but the product of Seller B instead will be sent, because it also has the same UPC code as your product. Where is the guarantee that Seller B's so called commingled product is of the same quality as yours? You don't know for sure! And if the buyer is unsatisfied, then you’ll receive negative review and negative feedback, not the Seller B. Therefore, it is very important to label your goods using FBSKU, especially since this is quite simple to do.

You can get FNSKU codes in your Seller Central account, using Inventory Tab. You can apply FNSKU as a sticker directly to the packaging, or you can ask the manufacturer to do it right during the packaging creation process.


Do I need to buy UPC codes for every product I sell?

Yes. Each item you sell requires its own UPC code. If the manufacturer already has a UPC code, you can use it. If not, you can complete a GTIN exception request. But if you have a private label, you must buy a UPC code for each of your products.

Suppose I sell bags of the same model but in different sizes and colors. How many barcodes do I need?

In general, each variation of the product will require its own UPC code. If you sell bags in different patterns and sizes, each different color and pattern will need a code. If the bag comes in different sizes, each will require a code.

If the products are already selling on Amazon, do I also need a UPC, if I want to sell them to?

You can use both the UPC and the ASIN code if the product is already listed on Amazon.

Are UPC codes the same for the same product?

Yes, they are the same. If you purchased the UPC code for "White T-shirt size M", you can use it for any number of the exact T-shirts that you intend to sell on Amazon. But if you also want to sell the "black T-shirt size M" you need to buy another UPC code for it.


Amazon has particular needs for sellers about barcode placement. The easier you make it for warehouses to accept, process, and monitor your inventory, the better the set up for success you will be. And don't think of barcodes as very complex or difficult to understand. In fact, after you list your product on Amazon for the first time, you can already tell others about how to do it better and more correctly. Keep selling, cause it's profitable!