All retail products use either EAN-13 or UPC-A format barcodes. These are used on every retail product with the exception of books and magazines. EAN-13 barcodes are used predominantly throughout the world in all countries except for The United States and Canada where UPC-A Barcodes are more common.

Retail barcode numbers are globally unique numbers and are protected. You can’t just make up barcode numbers to use (unless you are ONLY selling your products within your own store). Barcode numbers need to be purchased or obtained from a legitimate barcode source.

The differences between UPC-A and EAN-13 can be seen here.

Please follow the links below for instruction on obtaining the relevant barcodes.

EAN-13 Barcodes – For retail products outside of the USA and Canada

UPC-A Barcodes – For products selling in the USA and Canada

ISBN Book Barcodes – If you do not have the ISBN number, get it from the official ISBN portal

ISSN Magazine Barcodes


A different barcode number is needed for each unique product or product variant – and then you can sell thousands or millions of the same product or the variant with the same barcode number on it. For example if you have 2 different products and each has 3 different colours, you will need 2 x 3 = 6 barcodes in total. There is NO product information encoded in retail barcodes. Barcode numbers are purely unique numbers, effectively drawn from a large international database and allocated to you. The bars of the barcode ONLY encode the number shown under the bars. Scanning the bars is just a quick way to enter the barcode number into a retailers computer system, so that the product information, pricing etc shows up at the checkout.


Please see our FAQ page or contact us if you have any questions or would like advice.