Frequently Asked Questions

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A barcode (also bar code) is a unique number that allows retailers to track sales of your product within their inventory system. A barcode, also known as a UPC (Universal Product Code), can be of different lengths – 12 or 13 digits is most common. A barcode is a machine-readable representation of information (usually dark ink on a light background to create high and low reflectance, converted to 1s and 0s.

The UPC numbering system and bar symbols were designed in the early 1970s by George J. Laurer on behalf of IBM. He presented them to the food industries as a universal way to keep track of inventories, prices and manufacturers. It was chosen ahead of many other options and has since been accepted and adopted worldwide as a unified product tracking method.

EAN-13 barcodes represent unique EAN numbers that can be used for your products. The bar codes are lines (or bars) of different widths representing the unique sequence of numbers shown below the lines. Barcode scanners can tell what the barcode number is when they scan the bars. The retailer’s computer system will then find the corresponding product name and price (you need to supply this product information to your retailers when you give them your product & barcode).

The use of barcode numbers is a voluntary system. Retailers use it as the basis for their pricing, inventory and ordering systems. It is increasingly common for retailers, both large and small, to require all products they sell to display a unique product barcode for this purpose. If you want to keep selling your product through reputable retailers, we recommend that you put a barcode on it.

Most barcode numbers consist of 12 or 13 numbers. EAN-13 is the European standard, which is used in Australia and has 13 numbers. The UPC bar code system is typically used in the USA and is 12 digits long. “The EAN was developed as a superset of UPC, adding an extra digit to the beginning so that there would be plenty of numbers for the entire world.”* The EAN-13 code is used internationally. Scanners can typically read both EAN-13 and UPCs.

You need a unique barcode for each unique product that you sell. Retailers use barcodes in their computer systems to record product information & track products. If you are selling a juice drink with 2 different flavours (orange & apple) and 2 different sizes, you will need to buy 4 barcodes. With a unique barcode on each size & flavour, if the small orange juice is selling faster than the others, your retailers can easily find out & order more of your small orange juice drinks.

Barcodes ordered through our website will be emailed to you, with the guarantee and images attached (in 4 different formats – .jpeg, png, SVG & pdf). These then need to be incorporated into your product packaging in an easily visible flat location either by you or by your graphic designer. Please keep in mind the barcode specifications when doing this.

As an alternative, we can also send you sticky barcode labels to be applied to your product.

Yes. All retail products in Australia (except for magazines and books) can use the same 13-digit EAN barcode. Hence, whether you need a barcode for your widget, t-shirt, CD or tractor, Barcodes Limited can provide a barcode for you. However, if you supply one of the few large retail chains that specifically requires all product barcodes to be verified, you will need to join a barcode organisation, purchase your barcodes from them, pay annual fees, & get them to verify your barcodes. (see note below regarding Woolworths) For further information about restrictions regarding the barcodes you purchase from us, read here.

The only retail chain that we are aware of in Australia & NZ that might have problems with barcodes purchased from resellers like ourselves is the Super Retail Group. The Super Retail Group apparently require the product manufacturer (you) to be a member of GS1 & also require GS1 verification certificates. (Super Retail Group stores are Amart All Sports, BCF Boating Camping Fishing, Goldcross Cycles, FCO Fishing Camping Outdoors, Ray’s Outdoors, Rebel Sport, Supercheap Auto and Super Retail Commercial). As far as we know, our barcodes work for all other retailers and retail products in Australia and New Zealand.
Some retailers in Australia & NZ require barcode verification reports (e.g. Woolworths, Coles, Bunnings, Foodstuffs, Progressive & other retail chains) – we can provide these for our barcode numbers – we are the only barcode reseller that we know of who can do this – hence our barcodes are accepted in MORE retail stores worldwide than any other barcode reseller. Hence, if you need a barcode for your product, Barcodes limited can help you and save you $$$$$.
Products are using our barcodes in Foodstuffs NZ stores – however, Foodstuffs NZ has been changing their requirements, so we advise that you contact Foodstuffs NI & SI and check their requirements before purchasing barcodes.
Many of our customers hope to get their products into major retail chains, but realise that they have a low chance of success and also it may take many years. Hence, they start with our barcodes realising they MIGHT need to switch to GS1 barcodes if they somehow manage to get an order from a large retail chain – and that order should be large enough to justify the additional expense of GS1’s costly joining fee and annual fees.

Note – the barcode images we supply for magazines and books are based on ISBN or ISSN numbers and are accepted by all retailers worldwide.

Yes. Our barcodes will work anywhere that either UPC or EAN barcodes are scanned, most of the modern world. This includes Australia, the USA, Canada, the UK, Europe, Asia, South America, the Middle East & anywhere else that uses barcodes. The only limitation that we know of outside of Australia is a couple of stores in the United States (Kroger’s & Wal-Mart). They all require registration with a barcode organisation that will verify your product barcodes à if you do manage to sell your product to these chains, you will be pleased & have enough money to pay the annual fees. See here for further information.

Yes – Our barcodes were issued by UCC – the Uniform Code Council (since renamed GS1-US). UCC first issued our barcodes in bulk to a company in the United States- we purchased a large amount of these barcode numbers and are now on-selling them to people who want barcodes without the annual fees.

Yes. As our barcodes were originally issued by UCC – the Uniform Code Council (now renamed GS1-US), they are legal for use in Australia, New Zealand & anywhere in the world.

No. No barcode supplier or issuing organisation can guarantee that every retailer in the world will accept their barcodes. Retailers have the right to refuse specific barcodes (or products) for various reasons or make specific requirements for the labelling & packaging of good they stock. Hence, no organisation can guarantee universal acceptance. It is your obligation to find out the specific barcode & packaging requirements of your particular retailers BEFORE purchasing barcodes. Do not print your packaging until your retailers have expressed full acceptance of your barcodes & packaging. Please read our Terms and Conditions before purchasing barcodes from us.

We offer a company prefix to customers who buy 10, 100 or 1,000 barcodes at once- the length of the prefix is determined by the number of codes bought. Read more about how this works on our Company Prefix page.

A Barcode is purely a unique number – no specific product information is encoded within the bars. The barcode has no real meaning until the details of the product are typed into a retailer’s software application. When you supply your product to a retailer, they will put your product information into their software system (product name, barcode number, price, & reordering info). After this is complete, your product details appear on the cash register whenever your barcode is scanned. A barcode is purely a connection between your product and the product details stored in the computer system.

Purchasing a barcode from us is simple & easy. Simply go to the Barcode Shop page, enter the number of items you want, click “Add to Cart”, and then click “Go to Checkout”. You will be asked to review your order & provide your contact details (if you need to provide us with further details, i.e. your ISSN, ISBN or barcode number, please enter them into the “further instructions” section or else email them to us). You can then make the payment (either by credit card or by PayPal).

If you’d prefer to pay by direct deposit or cheque, please send us an email.

After receiving your order, we will assign your EAN-13 barcode number(s) to you from our database and email your barcode(s) to you. The time it takes us to process & send your order is often only a few hours. On less common occasions, it can take us one to three business days. (If you have specific completion time requirements, please call or email to check the current schedule.)

Once you receive your unique barcode number, you can begin using it on your product straight away – just attach it to your product & give the product to your retailer. When you supply your product to your retailer, you usually need to provide them with the barcode number and the product name, description, price, etc. They will input this information into their inventory system.

A unique EAN number is required for each different product for your retailer to identify your products in their inventory system properly.

No. Any individual, business, or organisation can purchase & use our barcode numbers. You do not need to be registered as a company.

Yes, you can purchase your EAN-13 barcodes from us. EAN-13 codes are used throughout the world.

If your business only has a relatively small number of products or only needs new barcode numbers occasionally, then we are the best option (in our opinion) for purchasing barcode numbers and MUCH CHEAPER than alternatives. Our main advantages are:

  1. Low initial cost – one barcode number from $75
  2. No ongoing annual fees. We provide EAN-13 barcodes for a simple one-off fee. This can be a significant cost saving.
  3. FREE barcode graphic – many other barcode providers don’t provide you with a graphic barcode image or charge an extra fee for it.
  4. No membership requirements, no complicated forms to complete, and no restrictions on using your barcode numbers. Once you have purchased your number, they are permanently yours, to use as you choose.
  5. Instant delivery of EAN, UPC, ITF and ISBN barcodes (not ISSN or QR).

YES. We guarantee that the barcode number you receive is unique and has not been issued by us to anyone else anywhere in the world. We also provide a free Guarantee Certificate by email (or post for a small fee). The Guarantee Certificate covers all the numbers you purchase at that time.

Our Guarantee Certificate guarantees that we won’t issue your barcode number(s) to anyone else. (We guarantee this for all our numbers, whether or not you have a Guarantee Certificate). A written Guarantee backs this we have from the US company we purchase our bulk barcode numbers from, in which they guarantee that they won’t issue our numbers (the numbers they have issued to us) to anyone else. In addition, the US company we purchase our barcode numbers from is recommended by George J. Laurer (inventor of UPCs).

There is sometimes a fear of the duplication of barcode numbers – this is one reason barcode numbering systems are guarded carefully. No retailer wants two quite different products on their shelf with the same barcode number. Barcode number duplication can occasionally occur through manufacturers allocating the same number to two different products – businesses making up their own barcode number – buying a number from a company that generates numbers randomly.

Barcode number duplication can also occur through companies like ours selling the same number to more than one purchaser. We are aware of this potential danger and have accurate systems to avoid duplication of numbers – we guarantee that we will not sell the same number to more than one client. (This is also why we cannot offer refunds for any barcode purchases, we cannot resell any numbers ‘returned’ to us because of the danger of duplication). We purchase our barcode numbers from a reputable source in the US, recommended by George J. Laurer, who guarantee that they have not sold our numbers to anyone else. They have sold thousands of barcode numbers, with no numbers being sold twice and have thousands of satisfied customers. (It isn’t difficult to ensure that a business like ours doesn’t sell duplicate numbers).

No. Your barcode will never expire. Once the barcode number is issued to you, the same number will never be issued to anyone else – it is yours for life.

No, we do not charge renewal fees. All of our prices are one-off payments. We will never ask you for any future fees or license fees. Because these barcode numbers come from a company that joined the UCC in the 1990s, we don’t need to pay any renewal fees before they started charging renewal fees (August 2002). This saving is passed on to you – we do not & will not ever charge you any renewal fees.

The standard EAN-13 barcode image size is 37.3mm wide x 25.9mm high. The smallest recommended size is 80% of the standard size (i.e. 30mm wide). The largest recommended size is 200% of the standard size (i.e. 74.6mm wide). Width is more important than height because barcode scanners need to distinguish between the bars easily, and reducing the width reduces the distance between them. We recommend doing a test scan of any EAN image before mass producing your product with its barcode attached. See the official standards for barcode size (if you are getting your barcodes verified, you must comply with these barcode sizing standards).

No. Individual barcode numbers are not usually registered in a Central Database. It is up to the owner of the barcode number to ensure it is not used in duplicate situations and to keep track of how the number is used.

When you receive your barcode number from Barcodes Limited, you control that specific number. If you discontinue one product, you may re-use that barcode number on another product. Still, you must pass on this information to the retailer and ensure that both products are not being supplied simultaneously. (It is wise to allow some time between the end of one product’s life and reuse that number on another product). Hence, you become the registrar of that unique barcode number and are responsible for ensuring it is used properly.

Barcode registration (on the major internet databases) is an optional service that we provide. It is not compulsory (your barcode will work fine without it), but it can increase the exposure of your product on the internet.

In the 1990s, some manufacturers in the USA were given unique manufacturer ID numbers. These numbers were assigned to their companies & became their property.

At the start of the 2000s, GS1-US (previously known as UCC) started requiring that all the manufacturer ID numbers they issued remain the property of GS1-US. They required the user to start paying annual fees to keep being allowed to use their numbers.

Several US manufacturers took UCC (GS1-US) to Court because of the new annual fees requirement. They succeeded and received a settlement of almost $4 million USD. As a result of the settlement, any company that had paid a membership fee to UCC before August 28, 2002, was entitled to free, perpetual membership of UCC and continued use of its company prefix.

A few of these companies had unused barcode numbers and sold these to other companies. We were able to purchase a large quantity of these unused numbers from a reputable company. This is why we can now offer you a single barcode number or a larger quantity of unique numbers from us for one simple one-off price (we don’t charge annual or renewal fees).

George Joseph Laurer (born September 23, 1925, in New York) developed the Universal Product Code (UPC) in 1973. As an engineer at IBM, he was asked to develop the pattern used for the Universal Product Code. Have a look at his website He freely shares his knowledge and expertise about the symbol he created and clarifies many of its surrounding issues. He also expresses his frustration with the exorbitant fees charged by GS1-US and recommends reputable companies like ours which can provide small quantities of UPC (barcode) numbers at an affordable price. (Our barcode numbers come from a source recommended by George J Laurer)

We were involved with another business, which developed a small number of successful retail products for Australia and NZ. As these products became more successful, we found that some stores required a barcode number on the products. Our initial investigations led to only one major source for barcode numbers and horror when we saw the cost of obtaining the few barcodes we required. No one else in NZ seemed able to provide us with a barcode. This got us asking questions – we thought there should be a way to purchase one (or a few) barcode numbers without paying large joining fees or annual fees for membership.

After lots more research, investigation & ingenuity, we obtained our barcode. Then we got calls from other companies asking how they could obtain a barcode number. So, not wanting others to waste their time and money unnecessarily, we decided to help other people obtain barcode numbers and graphics easily – hence Barcodes Limited was formed.

No. Black bars on a white background is the normal colouring for barcodes and provides good contrast for scanning. However, you can print your barcode in other colours, but you must have a good distinction between the bars of your barcode and the spaces in between. Do not print onto black packaging as you need the left and right white ‘quiet zones’ to show. Some colour combinations won’t work. For more information, please see our Barcode Colour & Print Guide PDF.

You can see sample images here. If you have trouble with these, just send us an email & we can email you samples of barcodes in various graphic formats – so you can see which format you prefer.

ISBNs are required for books. You can get an ISBN (for books) in Australia from the ISBN Agency. Once you have the number, order online, and we will provide you with the correct barcode artwork to print on your book.

ISSN numbers are required for magazines. ISSN numbers (for magazines) are available from the Australian National Library. Once you have the number, order online, and we will provide you with the correct barcode artwork to print on your magazine or book.

A GLN is a globally unique number that some retailers use as a location identifier for suppliers. If you require one of these, it can be purchased here.

Both UPC-A Numbers and EAN-13 numbers are used as retail barcodes for scanning at the checkout to obtain the price and other product information. The main differences between them are that UPC-A Barcodes only have 12 digits and EAN-13 barcodes have 13 digits. Furthermore, the displacement of the numbers below the barcodes differs.

Both versions are designed for international use and can, therefore, in theory, be used throughout the world. However, UPC-A Barcodes are far more common in the USA, and EAN-13 Barcodes are far more common everywhere else. This means that some retailers may be unfamiliar with one format or have their system set up not to accept 13-digit or 12-digit numbers. Regardless of this, either format can be used.

As shown in the image below, the actual bars of the UPC-A format barcode and the EAN-13 format barcode (with a leading ‘0’) are identical. This means that they will scan in the same way regardless of which country they are in. If a retailers system does not allow 13-digit numbers, the leading ‘0’ can be ignored when typing the number into the system and, the barcode will work in the same way as if it were a UPC-A format barcode. Similarly, if 13 digits are required, a ‘0’ can be added to the beginning of the UPC-A barcode to turn it into an EAN-13. Either way round, the barcode will be globally unique and legal for use internationally.


The first few digits of a barcode number show the country of origin of the BARCODE NUMBER. There is a common misconception that these digits show the country of origin of the product – this is NOT correct. These digits ONLY show where the barcode number has come from and say NOTHING about the product’s country of origin. If you wish to see the country of origin of a product, read the other writing on the product – it should say ‘Made in Australia’ or whatever it is. Please note that the barcode numbers we sell start with “06” or “07”, which means they originally come from the USA. However, this only indicates where the barcode numbers come from (they say nothing about where the product comes from).

Buy barcodes

Other Things on our site:

Book Barcodes
Magazine Barcodes
CD Barcodes
DVD Barcodes
Barcode Verification
Barcode Registration
Barcode Labels
Why Buy Barcodes From Us?
QR Codes
Amazon Barcode Numbers
ITF-14 Carton Codes
Other Barcodes


“Smooth as silk ~ great company to deal with. This was my second visit. I really look forward to getting barcodes because it means that a project has been completed & is now available, in my case, for all to see or hear. Barcodes Australia has an easy to navigate site, a chat line to discuss any difficulties and they process the request quickly. they also have a free registration service once the product has been released. Why would I go anywhere else? ” Steve