How to Get a UPC Barcode

UPC LabelUPCs, or Universal Product Codes, are 12-digit numbers commonly required for products sold by retailers and distribution centers. Products are identified with UPC barcodes, and each unique product requires it’s own assigned UPC number from GS1. Before you can sell products with a UPC label, you need to be assigned your uniquely numbered UPCs.

How do I get assigned UPC numbers?

All UPCs are assigned by GS1 – the Global Standards Organizationformerly known as the Uniform Code Council. Their website is quite helpful and has complete information to applying for and getting started with UPCs. (If you’re outside of the US, visit GS1’s contact page to find the right office for your location.)

If your company needs UPC labels for a large number of products, or if you are going to resell them through large retailers (such as Walmart, Whole Foods, Kohl’s, Home Depot, CVS, Michaels, among many others), you will need to work with GS1 directly. You may also find that—over time—the number of retailers forcing GS1 compliance for traceability requirements will grow.

I have my assigned UPC numbers from GS1. Where do I get UPC labels?

From Electronic Imaging, of course! We have three easy options to deliver you high quality UPC barcode labels:

  1. We design, print, and ship them to you. All it takes is filling out a Label Expert request.
  2. Design your own UPC labels in our shop, and we print and ship them to you.
  3. Purchase blank labels and print UPC barcodes yourself with a laser/inkjet or thermal transfer printer, and barcode software. If you’re brand new to all of this, we’ve tried to accommodate with a complete UPC label printing kit that has everything you need to get started.

Getting pre-printed labels from us makes sense if you don’t want to invest in special barcode software or a label printer, you need labels quickly, or you don’t have the time or manpower to do the printing. Since many retailers penalize manufacturers if their barcodes are below GS1 standards, you can rest easy relying on EIM to provide UPC barcodes that will scan and exceed all minimum scanning requirements.

What are ISBN and Bookland numbers? How are they different from a UPC Barcode?

The Bookland EAN or ISBN-13 barcode is used internationally to identify books, as well as videos, audio cassettes and software. The unique number assigned to each item is the International Standard Book Number (ISBN). ISBNs are printed on books using the EAN-13 barcode symbology. The Bookland EAN barcode may be followed by a 5-digit add-on supplemental code which contains the suggested retail price.

If you are a new publisher and need one or more ISBNs, the agency responsible for assigning these numbers in the USA is R.R. Bowker (

Just like UPC labels, EIM can design and print ISBN labels for you either by requesting a custom quote, or you can design your own ISBN labels in our shop.

Doing your own packaging artwork and want to incorporate the UPC barcode into the design?

For Packaging that incorporates a UPC or ISBN right in your graphic design, we can provide the code in electronic format (typically an EPS file). Contact Our Label Experts for more details.

Print Your Own UPC Barcode Labels

QuickShip Laser Sheets for UPC Bar Code Labels:
Supplied on 8.5” x 11” Laser Sheets, these 1.5″ x 1.0″ paper labels come with permanent adhesive and are supplied 50 labels per sheet. Orders placed by 1:00 PM Eastern Time will ship the same day.

QuickShip Roll Labels for UPC Bar Code Labels:
Labels supplied in roll form make it is easy to print single labels or large batches. Thermal printing can also easily handle larger operations where you have a lot of different UPC codes to print.

Still have questions about UPC barcodes and labels? Email Our Label Experts or Call 1-800-535-6987 for more details.

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