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How to get a barcode for your products

If you manufacture your own products you're probably wondering if you need barcodes in order to sell your products at the online, local or national level. The answer is, It Depends!

In the four years that I had my t-shirt business, my t-shirts were in more than 300 stores, including gift shops, hospital gift shops, mom & pop stores, food coops, local bookstores, spas, gyms, hair & nail salons, museum stores, Whole Foods, and many others. During that time, only ONE store required me to have a barcode.

How to determine if you need a barcode for your products


  • sell products directly to consumers through your website
  • sell products directly to consumers at in-person craft fairs, trade shows, weekend events, etc.
  • sell products directly to consumers in an online marketplace (Etsy, Ebay, IndieMade, etc.)
  • sell products to local retail stores (they usually have their own barcoding system)
  • sell products to any retail stores that do not require barcodes (hotel chains, museum gift shops, hospital gift shops, etc.)


  • sell products on Amazon
  • sell products on an online marketplace that requires them
  • sell to large retailers like Walmart, Target, Barnes & Noble, Walgreens, GNC, etc.
  • sell to any retail stores that require barcodes

How to get a barcode for your products

There are two ways to go about getting barcodes: directly through GS1 or through a reseller. Which way you go depends on a few things.

Here are some questions to ask yourself before deciding what option is best for you:

  • Do you have money to invest in barcodes?
  • How many products do you need barcodes for now and in the future?
  • What type of online or offline retailers do you plan on selling your products to?

If you have A LOT of products and if you plan on selling to major retail stores, it's a good idea to use GS1US.org. Their initial fee is $750, with an annual renewal fee of $150.

The first step in creating barcodes with GS1 is to obtain a GS1 Company Prefix. A GS1 Company Prefix is a unique identification number that GS1 US issues just to your company—and it’s part of every barcode, Universal Product Code, and identification number you create. It’s the internationally accepted way to uniquely identify your brand in the global supply chain.

Once you set up your Company Prefix, you can create unique barcodes for each product through their online system. Once you have codes for each product, you need to use any one of their approved partners to print the barcodes for you. You can find a list here.

If you have a smaller budget, don't plan on selling through many national retailers or if a few of your retailers have asked you for barcodes, it's best to use a reseller rather than use GS1. You won't get your own Company Prefix number, but you will get a unique Universal Product Code for each barcode.

Resellers usually charge about $20 or so per barcode (some charge more and some charge less). So, if you need 20 barcodes, for example, it makes more sense to use a reseller. If you need 100, it's probably best to use GS1.

I have ordered barcodes through http://www.createbarcodes.com and had a great experience, so I highly recommend them.

I hope this post helped you determine whether or not you need barcodes and, if so, where to get them. If you have any other questions about barcodes, make sure to leave a comment below with your question.


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  1. Good short answer, just wanted to ask you about the size of your orders. I’m also a small brand, manufacturing clothing with a few hundred pieces per style, my styles are less than 10. I was recommended to get a bar-code, but with X amount of styles times 3 sizes, I’m looking at $750 for the cost to buy on GS1. Are resellers cheaper? What is a better alternative?

    1. Albert, it depends. If you plan on selling to major retailers, you should invest in GS1. If you sell to smaller retailers, most of them won’t require it. I recommend waiting until a store asks you for barcodes before you sign up!

  2. We are an ecommerce retail store selling other brands’ products, as well as a few of our own product brand. We have UPC’s for our branded products through GS1. What I am wondering is, can we use the UPC codes our supplier brands provide us with in their pricing guides?? Or do we need unique UPC codes to own own retail store to attach to their products in our ecommerce platform. It will save much time if we can do the former!! We also sell on Amazon, so they require us to provide them with UPC codes, this is why we use UPC’s for the most part (other than our branded products).


  3. i am not a manufacturer, i am sourcing things like fashion jewelry and planning it to sell on my own website and other e-com portals.Do i need a 13-digit EAN code or any other bar-code to start selling my products?

  4. Hi. I own a small company that imports cereal grains in bulk and sells to companies in the US. All my sales are to processors, so none of my sales go directly to the retail market. I understand I do not need a bar-code for this type of sales. Is that correct?

  5. hi. does your upc work with amazon? i am torn to registering at GS1 bec it’s so costly. right now i only have 1 product to sell. i am tempted to buy from third party selling upc at a cheaper price but the latest amazon policy requires GS1 upc codes.. the most recent comment i see here is from 2017.. has anything changed since then? hope you can reply back thank you.

  6. I am starting my own Clothing E-commerce business, do I need to get a UPC code? it will not be at Amazon or any major retailer.

  7. You can print your own barcodes from your computer using Avery labels, or using a Dymo Labelwriter. All you need is your basic number from the government. I printed my own barcode labels using a Labelwriter for New England Bible College.

  8. Hello, can you please tell me the difference between buying a UPC from GS1, and the creatbarcodes.com? if I have 1 small few dollar product I plan on selling on amazon, Walgreens, wholefoods? can I just buy 1 from createbarcodes.com? whats the difference? besides price? plus, my 1 product might have 2 other versions in time if that matters? Thanks so much

  9. We make our own food and will be selling it out of coolers at plants.
    How do we make the barcode so they can scan it to see the price and to pay for it. All accounts are closed facilities so food barcode only needs to be able to show price to pay for it.

    1. Hey Duff, the barcode doesn’t doesn’t contain any info about the product. It just associates a unique number associated with the product.

      It’s like a social security number for products.. Just like your social security number itself doesn’t contain any details about you, barcodes don’t either.

      But when you scan a barcode, the POS (point of sale sustems) will look up info about the product that the system owner has had programed into it’s datbase

  10. Thanks very informative I learned something about this bar codes . I have an online store and i sell mostly pre owned items and I also have new items. Do i need bar codes.

  11. Hi. I’m planning to sell postcards and want to market them through Safeway (aka national retailer) and tourist / airport venues. Do I need a GS1 Membership, (it sounds like I might be able to avoid it?)

    The postcards sold at our local Safeway have 2 codes: a group barcode and a supplemental bar code. I can’t tell if they are registered with GS1

  12. we are planing a local village calendar for next year to be sold locally. do we need a bar code for our calendar. thank you.

  13. Greetings,
    I generated a UPC through the internet. It was generated and is valid. My product will be sold through supermarket a d small store. Do I need to register this UPC in order for me to use it?

  14. I make my own greeting cards , I have tried the usual places Etsy, Auction sites , even my own site .
    Not much has happened tbh, I don’t want to give in.
    I have found a site that lets you list, but your items need a barcode . For one barcode it is 50.00, but if I make 100 different cards , it will cost a fortune . Can I have one barcode for my goods only .

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