Explained: UPC (Universal Product Code) vs. EAN (European Article Number)

Explained: UPC (Universal Product Code) vs. EAN (European Article Number)

UPC (Universal Product Code) and EAN (European Article Number) are both types of product identification codes commonly used in retail and e-commerce. While they serve a similar purpose, there are some key differences between them:

  1. Geographic Usage: UPCs are primarily used in North America, whereas EANs are used internationally, including Europe, Asia, and many other regions.

  2. Numbering Structure: UPCs consist of 12 digits, while EANs can have either 13 or 8 digits. The first digit of an EAN indicates its numbering system, whereas the first digit of a UPC represents a specific category of products.

  3. Encoding: UPCs and EANs use different encoding schemes. UPCs are encoded using a system called "A" encoding, while EANs use a combination of "A" and "B" encoding.

  4. Compatibility: UPCs and EANs are generally interchangeable at the point of sale. Many barcode scanners and systems can read both types of codes. However, some systems or retailers might have specific requirements or preferences for one code over the other.

  5. GS1 Prefix: Both UPCs and EANs require a GS1 prefix, which is a unique number assigned to a company by the GS1 organization. The prefix identifies the manufacturer or company that owns the code and is followed by the product-specific digits.

It's worth noting that EAN-13 codes are backward compatible with UPCs. If a product has an EAN-13 code, it can also be scanned and recognized as a UPC, although some minor differences in encoding may exist.

When listing products on platforms like Amazon, it's important to follow their guidelines and requirements regarding the use of UPCs or EANs based on the geographic region where your products will be sold.

*We do not recommend using our genetic UPC barcodes for your Amazon listings. Brand protection is not guaranteed when using our codes; if you're looking to register and embed your product information to the UPC, please process through the official GS1. 

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