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How do Global Trade Index Number barcodes work?

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Quick Answer

Global Trade Index Numbers work by using a unique number issued by standardization organization GS1 that contains company and product codes within the same number, explains GTIN Info and GS1. Manufacturers, distributors and stores use GTINs to keep track of products, entering GTINs manually or by using a bar-code reader.

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Full Answer

GTINs are capable of storing some older numbering standards used in North America and around the world, generally by adding zeros to the beginning of the number, states GTIN Info. In North America, most companies use the GTIN-12, which aligns with older North American standards. Most countries outside North America use GTIN-8 or GTIN-13.

Only GS1 issues GTIN company prefixes and provides software for companies to add their own product numbers. The length of the company prefix varies depending on the number of product codes a company needs and how much the company is willing to pay, states GS1. Companies with no more than 10 products use a 10-digit company prefix in a GTIN-12, while companies needing 100,000 product codes use a six-digit prefix.

The final number in all GTINs is a check digit, calculated based on the preceding numbers, explains GS1. This allows computer systems to quickly validate manual GTIN entries by using the same calculation.

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