Barcode Company Prefix

Some manufacturers wish to have a unique company prefix for their barcodes.

There are only two sure ways to get a company prefix like this – you can join GS1 (& pay their expensive joining fee and annual fees for the rest of your product life), or you can purchase barcodes from us in blocks of 10, 100, 1000 or 10,000. We are the ONLY barcode seller that we know of that provides unique company prefixes like this.

If you purchase 1 barcode number, then you will not be supplied with a company prefix (no barcode company supplies this).

However if you purchase barcodes in lots of 10, 100, 1000 etc from us, then they will have a unique company prefix.
The length of the company prefix will be dependent upon how many variations are required to make a total of 13 digits.
For example – if you purchase 10 barcode numbers, then of the 13 digits, the first 11 will be your company prefix, the 12th digit will vary from 0-9 (giving you 10 different barcode numbers), and the last digit is a calculated checksum.
Similarly if you purchase 20 barcode numbers, you will get 2 company prefixes (giving 10 barcodes for each).
If you purchase 100 barcode numbers, then of the 13 digits, the first 10 will be your company prefix, the 11th & 12th digits will vary from 00-99 (giving you 100 different barcode numbers), and the last digit is a calculated checksum.

Barcodes can be purchased Barcode image.


Manufacturer Code – Myth

There is common myth that a barcode number is split into 4 parts. eg this from Wikipedia

The 13-digit EAN-13 number consists of four components:

  • Prefix – 3 digits (often called a country code)
  • Manufacturer Code – variable length
  • Product Code – variable length
  • Check digit

This concept was true-ish for many years. Originally GS1 issued blocks of 100,000 numbers to maufacturers – these were numbered 00000 to 99999 and were digits 8-12 of the 13 digit numbers. When combined with a 3 digit country code at the start of the number, this left digits 4 to 7 for the ‘manufacturer code’.
However, GS1 realised that issuing blocks of 100,000 numbers to companies that might only need a few barcode numbers was very wasteful, and with a limited quantity of EAN13 numbers available (a million million are available worldwide at the most), they needed to change their system.  So in various countries the starting block of numbers issued was reduced to 10,000 or 1,000 or 100 or 10 … or even 1.

So – considering the number above – if it was issued as a block of 100,000 numbers, then it could be broken down as –
070 = country code      5632 = manufacturer code           44194 = product code          7 = check digit
This can be written as  cccmmmmpppppc (ccc = country code, mmmm = manufacturer code, ppppp= product code, c = check digit)

However, if only 10,000 numbers are issued to the manufacturer, then the breakdown is cccmmmmmppppc
And for 1,000 numbers it is cccmmmmmmpppc
And for 100 numbers it is cccmmmmmmmppc
And for 10 numbers it is ccmmmmmmmmpc
You will see with this pattern that the ccc and mmm parts would be expected to stay the same for a manufacturer, and their produc variations would be denoted by the pp part of the number.

But what would happen if GS1 issued a single number? How could a single number have a common ‘manufacturer code’ and then a part that varies (the product code)?
Following this pattern, the code (for a single number) should be cccmmmmmmmmmc – but this is meaningless as there is no “product code”.  So in reality a number like this should be expressed as cccpppppppppc – where the full sequence of ‘p’ is the product code, and there is no manufacturer code.  (or even as pppppppppppc)
Obviously this is logical – if a single number is issued, then that full number is the product code and there is no common ‘manufacturer code’.

So – if GS1 issued single barcode numbers to manufacturers, they would be effectively demonstrating that this breakdown of barcode numbers into country code / manufacturer code / product code / check digit is a myth, as they would be issing number that had no identifiable manufacturer code and product code.
And – this is what GS1 has done in New Zealand & Australia at least – they issue single numbers to manufacturers, and in doing so they clearly demonstrate that this ‘manufacturer code’ concept is not always true, and is definitely not important or essential.