Let’s dive right in. Do we really need UPC codes to sell on Amazon?

Yes, you do. UPC codes are unique numbers assigned to the products in your inventory. Each product style/design needs to have a unique prefix assigned by the GS1 organization.

Don’t be disappointed, we will provide all relevant guidelines. If you are already familiar with the basics of UPC codes. You can jump to the section that explains the main drill.

UPC codes are produced by the GS1 organization. There are about 100 GS1 organizations all around the world. But GS1 US is responsible for codes in the US.

So, without further ado - let’s get started.

What are UPC codes?

UPC provides unique prefixes to brands in the US allowing them to create their own barcodes. The barcodes contain the prefix number given to them by GS1 US.

… Is it really necessary that I get a UPC code?

It is important to know that Amazon is constantly checking the codes against the GS1 database. They are also removing listings if they fail to present an authentic UPC code.

With the increasing demand for supply in Asia, Europe, Australia, and America it became imperative to differentiate sellers by location. The prefixes are liable to identify the place where the license was issued. It is a misconception that it identifies the location of the product’s production. That way all the prefixes of products in the US should start with zero. Myth busted!

There are two types of UPC codes:

  1. UPC A

  1. UPC E

There is a fundamental difference between the two codes. UPC E does not include zeros (no zeroes visible within the barcode). They are only visible with the corresponding GTIN.

Fun Fact: GTINs are responsible for single product identification (do not confuse them with barcodes). GTIN is assigned by making a combination of GS1 prefix number with a distinguishing number assigned by you.

Why buy your own UPC codes?

It may seem like a heavy investment, but it really goes a long way. Here are some of the reasons that will convince you to buy your own authentic UPC code.


Amazon has made it compulsory

As I mentioned above, Amazon is constantly checking the authenticity of GS1 prefixes against a database. There are people selling used UPC codes but they really bring more harm than good. To avoid any further issues with your listings, invest in an authentic code once and for all.

Be authentic

Don’t risk your business. Strive for authenticity. You will automatically be lured by the idea of getting used codes that will work on Amazon. Honestly, we have had our team members try that method out and it does work. However, you are prone to it catching up to you and Amazon suspending your account.

To avoid future problems with Amazon

If you continuously try to use the same old and used code, your Amazon account may be permanently suspended. They have emphasized that any listing without GS1 code will be removed in the future. The policy is going to be reinforced so better be safe than sorry.

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Needed for retail

There are plenty of opportunities that can be acquired by simply obtaining an authentic UPC code. Big box on Amazon requires you to have an official GS1 barcode. If you plan to sell your items on on big retail stores such as Sears and Zellers etc, you need to have an authentic UPC code.

How to buy your own UPC code?

A step by step guide

Step 1: Apply for GS1 prefix

As we explained above, the prefix number differentiates the manufacturer and not the product. Thus, prefix will be same for all the products (proving its a great investment). There are plenty of ways to acquire GS1 prefix. We highly recommend buying the code from GS1 organization itself.

The price of a single prefix ranges from $250 to $10,000. It all depends on the number of products you would enlist under that prefix. You will also be expected to give a renewal fee ranging from $50 to $3000 per year.



Step 2: Assigning a new product number

After getting your hands on the prefix. It is important to generate and assign each product a unique code. The product code is assigned by the seller (so you are safe there). The seller has the freedom to decide his own numbering system.

Imagine you are selling a different variations of key chains. Each variety of keychain will have a prefix combined by a product number assigned by you. Let’s take a look at exemplary codes.

  • Keychain variety 1: 0001
  • Keychain variety 2: 0002
  • Keychain variety 3: 0003

    Tip: Amazon products must have a 11 digit UPC code.

Step 3: Determining the display of barcode

GS 1 also allows you to order barcode labels, in case you have not designed your own. You can also acquire a digital barcode file from GS 1. You can incorporate them into your product’s packaging. We think everyone is comfortable with the idea of working with UPC barcodes from a digital file.

You can also order labels to stick them to your product (in case you are already done with packaging and labeling).

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Step 4: Order and place barcodes:

By now, you have already gone past the hard process. The next steps are fairly easy—order the barcodes. GS1 has affiliated companies such as Solution Partner Program that are familiar with the GS1 standards.

Amazon is super specific about the placement of UPC barcodes. It might scare you but it is continuously checking up on the codes via bots. That means they are checking your inbound shipments by scanning robots. It makes it imperative to place your barcodes on the product carefully so that they are visible for the scanner. You need to make it easier for robots to scrutinize the product. And you will be able to see your product selling a lot quicker.

What is the difference between GS1 vs Cheap barcodes from eBay/etc?

Last year, we were trying to look into different methods to acquire barcodes. We came across a couple of sellers on Ebay and other platforms selling them at a much lower price. We decided to dig right into it to know more about their authenticity. It was noted that these barcodes were either used or lacked authenticity.

Thus, lesson learned.

While researching for barcodes, you will come across several websites selling them at a low rate. The difference between a cheap barcode and a GS1 barcode is the accessibility. GS1 allows your product to go smoothly through the supply chain. Your products are differentiated based on an authentic number that can be accessed anywhere in the world. On the other hand, a barcode obtained from other sources is always a risk.

We have listed some fundamental differences between GS1 vs cheap barcodes:

When you register for GS1 barcodes, you receive an official certificate. Ebay and other cheap sources do not guarantee an official certification.

Education and training:

Registering with GS1 unlocks a variety of educational and training material unlike any other source. It allows you to actually learn the process on your own.


eBay and other sources will have you go through some unreliable procedures. On the other hand, GS1 registration is quick and hassle free.

Free support:

Generally buying on eBay is risky. You do not have customer support and no one is responsible if it turns to be fraud. On the contrary, GS1 has a support team available to guide you through the process.

How to list your products on Amazon with UPC codes?

Are you a pro? Then this process is incredibly easy for you. However, if you are a beginner, then you need to follow some fundamental steps.

Preliminary steps:

Before you start listing your products, it is imperative to have a remarkable understanding of Amazon. For pros, this part is relatively easy. For beginners, it can be a tricky job. It is highly recommended that you sort down all the related information before you start.

We will give you a comprehensive guide to kickstart your listing:

Get your UPC codes:

We cannot emphasize enough the importance of getting UPC codes. It is the fundamental step before you can start listing your product on Amazon. The best way to acquire a code is through GS1 organization (as discussed above).

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You can include a detailed description of your product but it will not increase sales. A photograph is a must. Take incredible images of your product. Amazon allows editing on its own website (so you will be good to go).

Amazon requires an image of 1000 pixels minimum (to give a clear image if zoomed in) Your product must also be placed against a plain white background.


Amazon requires you to upload the weight and height of your product. If the same product is already available on Amazon, you can copy the dimensions. In any case, use a bathroom and kitchen scale to take measurements.


Keywords are like a powerhouse. Once you are done with the description, you need to introduce some keywords. You can use Amazon's auto-suggest tool to become a keyword whizz.


You need to do some research before you can choose the category of your product. Check for similar products on Amazon. You can check the category and sub-category of those products and work accordingly.

Now let’s get down to the actual business. Once you have gone through the prerequisites, you must gear up for the actual listing procedure.

  1. Navigate to the dashboard of Amazon seller page.
  2. Go to inventory
  3. Choose the option “add a new product”
  4. Click “create a new product listing”
  5. Select the category of your product
  6. It will redirect you to the listing creation page.
  7. Add appropriate details

Wrapping it up...

UPC codes are not something that should hold you back. They should be bought and properly placed on your products to avoid any future issues. Amazon is constantly making sure that sellers and buyers are provided by a law-abiding platform for sales. Thus, follow the appropriate drill and you will not have any issues.

We would love to hear from you. Feel free to pour in your thoughts.

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